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Prototyping for Business Analysts Overview

Prototyping from the eyes of business analysis is not just about the final screen design, but rather the steps to attain the desirable user interface.  In this workshop, the learning you will achieve is two-fold:

1.       The steps in the prototyping process to yield a desirable interface. 

2.       How the prototyping technique provides you as the business analyst an elicitation, analysis, and validation tool all in one as you iterate through the external interface requirements.

This learning will be obtained utilizing lecture, demonstrations and examples; then internalize the learning with hands-on exercises to iteratively develop a prototype and test it for usability.

In-class exercises help you develop the progressive prototype elaboration using a user centric approach.

Prototyping for Business Analysts Outline

1)      Overview of Prototyping

It is important to understand that User Experience Design and Usability Analysis are specialties in which experts receive degrees in the field.  This two-day class is aimed at equipping the business analysts to execute some forms of prototyping to drive out user-centric requirements.  This section provides a background on the subject of Prototyping and how to use it.  The power of prototyping is in visualization.  Any visualization of a requirement will enable stakeholders to evaluate and clarify more details.  The risk involved is that design is sometimes locked prematurely.  The prototyping progression will increase effectiveness and reduce risk.  There are elicitation considerations on what form of prototype is the most effective for the particular situation which is discussed in this section as well.

a)      Definition

b)      Prototyping Categories

c)       Prototyping Progression (The Big Picture)  

Practice Sessions

  • Identification of types of prototypes

  • Prototyping as a risk mitigation technique

2)      Inputs to the Prototyping Effort

There are a couple of inputs needed before diving into the prototyping effort. 

·       An understanding of the user

·       An understanding of the site strategy

The people who will be interacting with the user interface provide important context to the requirements elicitation, analysis and later design processes.  By understanding their motivations, goals, habits, expectations, and assumptions, you will find yourself building user interface requirements that actually meet the needs of the user.  The strategy of the site may not be a straight line to the final design of the solution; however there are three considerations that provide context for the design.  You may look at how competitors have addressed like issues.  You may want to build a conceptual model of the business to facilitate understanding of how the organization operates.  You may need to construct an inventory of all the content the site must accommodate.  In this section we will develop personas to understand the user and develop concept models to understand the site information.

a)      Understanding the User

b)      Exercise to develop Persona

c)       Understanding the Site Information

d)      Exercise to develop Concept Map

Practice Sessions

  • Develop a Persona

  • Present Personas in a Meet and Greet Party

  • Develop a Concept Model using Card Sort Technique

  • Validate Concept Model with Target Users

3)      Developing the Site Map

This section addresses the overall structure of the site utilizing the Site Map.  The site map represents how the user will experience the site in a somewhat hierarchical fashion.  The site map will also advise navigation.  A site map is a particularly important deliverable in the progression to understand how all the site functionality is intended to fit together without getting down in the minutia of the details.

a)       Overview of the Site Map

b)      Elaborating the Site Map

c)       Presenting the Sitemaps

d)      Exercise to Develop Site Map

Practice Sessions

  • Develop a Site Map

4)      Flow Chart

Before we dive into developing the screen design from the site map in the previous section, we need to focus on the steps in the processes.  The flow chart is a good medium for defining the sequential steps of a completing a specific task from beginning to end.  This will bridge the gap between the site map, which provides a clear start point, but does not provide a sequential pathway after that, AND what the user interface may look like, we will call those wireframes. 

a)       Overview of the Flow Chart

b)      Elaborating the Flow Chart

c)       Presenting the Flow Chart

Practice Sessions

  • Develop a flow chart

5)      Developing Wire Frames

Humans will always gravitate toward pictures and toward simple representation of complex ideas, which are the whole point of a wire frame.  In this section you will learn about this controversial document beginning to blur the line between structure and visual design.  The wireframe starts to represent information on the user interface.

a)       Overview of the Wireframes

b)      Elaborating the Wireframes

c)       Presenting the Wireframes

d)      Exercise to develop Wireframes

Practice Sessions

  • Develop wire frames

6)      Introduction of Digital Prototyping Tools

In the early stages of user interface definition, paper prototyping may be the most viable option to garner the most open and honest feedback.  Your decision as to when and if to use a digital prototyping tool depends on a number of things such as people/logistics, development context, tasks/date/test scenarios, timing and scope to name a few.  In this section, we will explore aspects of using a digital prototyping tool.

a)       Digital Prototyping Tools Discussion

b)      Demonstration of a  Prototyping Tool

Practice Sessions

  • Observe prototyping tool demonstration

7)      Conducting the Usability Study

The goal of any user-centered activity is to make the interface better for the target audience and their goals.  With wire frames in hand from the previous section, you are ready to test their usability.  The beauty of this technique is that we will garner useful feedback in time to do something about it.  Usability experts have honed skills in the interpretation of usability studies, but anyone who cares about making better interfaces can benefit from learning the basics of usability testing.  That said there is always more to learn.

a)       Overview of Usability Study

b)      Conducting the Usability Study

c)       Exercise Simulation of Usability Study

Practice Sessions

  • Develop a usability study

  • Conduct a usability study

  • Conduct a consolidated usability study

8)      Determine the Screen Design

This is the point in which we cross the line from requirement definition to the design of the solution but before the actual development.  Even Agile methodology requires some understanding of the requirements prior to the actual design of the screens.  These screen designs do not magically appear, they work in cooperation with the elements of the prototyping progression in the previous sections.  The screen design can be successful when the following are understood:

·       the user needs

·       underlying strategy and content of the site

·       the overall structure from the site map

·       user flows for completing tasks

·       relative priorities of content as defined in the wireframes 

This section provides business analysts with the distinction between requirements and design as well as an appreciation of the challenges faced by the technical design/development team members

a)       Overview of Screen Design

b)      Topics of Design and Content

9)      Website and Application Prototyping Considerations

Today, we deal with screens of all shapes and sizes – low-resolution cell phones, full-color PDAs, multi-touch screens of all sizes, wall projectors, - but there’s no telling how we will access and receive information in the future.  Analysts and designers have to deal with this fast-changing world.  The Business Analyst should be aware of the opportunities and obstacles faced by the design. 

a)       Device Platforms

b)      Design Strategies

c)      Design Elements and Templates

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