Interface design, development, and even quality assurance testing are all merely instruments to be used for the purpose of achieving the goals set forth by the individuals responsible for business intelligence and UX research.

Follow a business-first approach to research

What does a business-first approach to research look like? Consider the following process.

  • Identify relevant business/project goals
  • Perform a competitive analysis
  • Obtain information from/about real users
  • Data synthesis and analysis
  • Establish design guidelines
  • During QA, identify any BI miscommunication

Take note that 3 of the 6 steps are directly related to business goals, while only one of the steps (number 3) is directly related to user research. Hopefully, this illustrates the importance of aligning the UX strategy with the business goals of our clientele.

Collect user data and business data

Data, data, data—it’s on every researcher’s mind.

The question is, which data?

The answer to that question varies from project to project, but it usually looks something like this:

  • What does the business need?
  • What do the users need?
  • How can we balance the 2?

Seems simple enough, but the hardest part is actually collecting the data. There are as many ways of collecting data as there are people collecting it.

Collect user data with:

  • Focus groups
  • Surveys/interviews
  • Contextual inquiry

Obtain/define business requirements through:

  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Business model canvas
  • Competitive analysis

Any UX designer worth their mettle ought to know the data collection methods outlined in group one—it’s the standard spread of tools used by most UX researchers. I’d bet, however, that there are a few UX designers/researchers out there who have placed significantly less emphasis on the practices outlined in the second group.

Stakeholder interviews, business model canvases, and competitive analyses are all conducted to ensure that the needs of the business receive just as much attention as the needs of the user.

Stakeholder interviews are designed to gauge the precise metrics that are important to the people who call the shots: business owners, investors, and the like.

Business model canvases, on the other hand, are visual representations of the business model: how it works, and why the business is structured the way it is.

Competitive analyses are in-depth reports on the features and experiences offered by competitors of the client. These can be as simple or complex as they need to be.


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