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Business analysis joins the January user experience lunchtime meet up

At our last user focused meet up at the end of January, we were fortunate to have guest speakers from Registers of Scotland talking about the relationship between the disciplines of user experience (UX) and business analysis (BA).

The timing of this session was really great, as I’m in the process of writing a blog post on the topic myself, building on some work I did as part of the proposition for our DTI-funded UX Consultancy & Training Service. I had been asking colleagues working in user experience in other organisations for their views, and our co-speaker today Clare Barnett went one better and volunteered to deliver a presentation.

Clare, and her colleague Hilary Brownie, are both user experience professionals, working with Registers of Scotland and have a wealth of experience across a number of public and private-sector organisations.

Clare Barnett’s LinkedIn profile

Hilary Brownlie’s LinkedIn profile

They took us through a briefing on the skills and practices common in user experience research and design, shared a few stories from previous projects before moving on into the more established realm of business analysis.

I really liked this quote which they used. For me, it helps emphasise what a user experience professional adds to a project:

Users will tell you what they think they want.
Users will tell you what they think you want to hear.
Users will tell you what they think sounds good.
Users will not tell you what you need to know.
You have to watch them to discover that.
Adam Judge
Little Black Book of Design

They spent a good amount of time emphasising what made BA and UX professionals similar, yet distinct. At various points they drew on anecdotes about people they’ve worked with in both roles who exhibited strong traits of the other discipline and indeed changed career tracks.

This diagram (from helps to illustrate the spectrum on which both professional disciplines exist.

List of analyst and research activities spanning user and business focus

The activities of a business analyst and a user experience professional exist on a spectrum


Ultimately, Clare and Hilary concluded that UX and BA are greater than the sum of their parts, and when they’re working well together with a healthy, constructive tension (representing both business and user needs), they add real value to the outcomes of a project.

To quote one of their slides:

  • The BA must understand the business needs and express them in a clear, concise way
  • The UX professional must understand the business problem, as well as how the customer sees it

Download slides

Clare and Hilary were kind enough to make their slides available to us after the event.

Download the PDF slide deck: UX isn’t here to steal your toys (Clare Barnett & Hilary Brownlie)

Post-presentation discussion

As ever, we followed up the presentation with an group-set agenda using the Lean Coffee format.

Learn more about the Lean Coffee discussion format

This month we prioritised conversation around:

  • When do you bring in UX to your project?
  • How would you get to a point where BA people and UX people were speaking the same language?
  • Is user research an essential component of doing an agile project and delivering an MVP?

Past and future lunchtime meet ups

Read about previous UX lunchtime meet ups, and what attendees thought

Join the UX mailing list to be the first to know about upcoming sessions (Edinburgh University login required)

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