Interview Questions for Business Analysts and Systems Analysts

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How do you prevent your application from being a confusing suite of features rather than one that meets a user's goals with ease?

Posted by Chris Adams

Article Rating // 9551 Views // 0 Additional Answers & Comments

Categories: Business Analysis, Systems Analysis, Requirements Analysis (BABOK KA)


Many applications are designed and completed only to result in a confusing suite of features that is difficult for the user to navigate.  So how can an analyst avoid this pitfall.  The answer is Design Thinking, also sometimes referred to as Human Centered Innovation or Human Centered Engineering.

Most people think of design as what something looks like; it's colors, the shape of buttons, the structure/layout. Steve Jobs, however, understood it was much more.  He often described design as how something works.  This means moving beyond mere aesthetics and considering the full user experience.  A more measurable approach might be to consider how a product should work (how it's designed to work) versus how the end user uses it.   A well designed application is used by the users just as it was designed. So your goal should be to close this gap to zero. This is why early prototypes and user testing is so important. 

Why is it that providing a suite of valid features that solve a user's problems so often creates a poor user experience?  It's like giving someone a toolbox with 20 different tools and saying, "you can do so much with these tools, now what would you like to build?"  This is a common "tech push" approach.  It's saying, these tools are so cool now what do you want to do with them. This causes the person to work to figure out what they even want to do in the first place.  It's our job as analysts and designers to make features and tools available when they are most needed and hide them when they are not.  And, these design decisions are dependent upon Context.  

Context is primarily made up of three factors: What, When, and How. There is What information is provided to the user, When it should be provided, and How it should be provided. Take for example a cars navigation system.  To present the user with directions the system must consider the What (the next turn), When (when to tell the driver to turn), and How (perhaps visual or voice commands). Together the What, When, and How create the user's context.

Good design should always consider the user's context, and that context can change.  Are their specific features that are only need for certain contexts? Likely, yes.

To summarize, understand the users' goals and equally important the context. Then present only the information and features needed WHEN they are need.  Design for user context.

This interview question and answer was adapted from a talk given by Neil Gupta, Founder of BostonAR


Chris Adams
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Do your homework prior to the business analysis interview!

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