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UX Designer vs. Analyst: 2 sides of the same coin?

Martijn Millecamp
Martijn Millecamp

Martijn helps companies to grow their UX maturity and to implement user-centered explanations for AI tools. He calls himself a full-stack designer as he likes programming (especially data viz in Python and d3.js), designing interfaces (Figma), and has the most experience in everything related to user experience and user research. He is not an AI expert but is highly interested in the interaction between humans and AI.

Reading the blog of Heleen about her job as an analyst triggered me to write this blog about the interaction between an analyst and a UX designer. Throughout my relatively short journey as a UX designer, I've already noticed that the roles of UX designers and analysts are often perceived as two separate and distinct professions. However, at AE, we believe that these professions share more common ground than meets the eye, with a significant overlap in their deliverables and the kind of job they do.

In this article, I'll delve into the connection between these roles and emphasize the advantages of dismantling the barriers between the so-called realms of UX designers and analysts.

Different responsibilities

In a nutshell, the primary responsibility of UX designers is to craft user-centered designs that are intuitive, efficient, and visually appealing. Our work usually begins with analyzing data from user research or user tracking, and then using this information to develop user personas, customer journeys, use cases, wireframes and to inform product decisions.

Contrastingly, analysts are seen as those who uncover potential solutions to technical or business questions. They are tasked with analyzing business and application processes and pinpointing opportunities for optimization. Commonly, they create process models, information models, and other diagrams that showcase the current and desired states of a business process and the applications supporting it. If you want to know more about the role and skills of an analyst, you can read this blog we wrote.

At first glance, these roles might appear vastly different. However, upon closer inspection, you'll discover that they're actually strikingly similar. You can see that both UX designers and functional analysts concentrate on understanding user interactions with a system or process and identifying ways to enhance those interactions. The key difference lies in their approach to the problem.

Different approaches

As UX designers, we typically adopt an outside-in perspective when examining user interactions with a system or process. To gain insights into user behavior, preferences and pain points, we empathize with the users by doing interviews, analyzing data, sending questionnaires, etc. On the other hand, analysts usually adopt an inside-out perspective, conducting workshops and interviews with internal stakeholders to comprehend their needs, preferences and pain points. Ultimately, both roles analyze data to inform requirements and discover solutions that cater to the needs of the users and the business.

To better illustrate these differing viewpoints, let's examine two typical deliverables for these roles: a service blueprint created by a UX designer and a business process model created by an analyst.

An example of a service blueprint by the NN Group for a product purchasing scenario

An example of a service blueprint by the NN Group for a product purchasing scenario [1]

As shown in the figure above, a service blueprint is an extension of a customer journey map that outlines the step-by-step experience of a customer from initial engagement to post-purchase, linking these touchpoints with the underlying people, processes and tools. Additionally, it will also give the UX designer not only insights in the customer but also in the employee journey.

A business process model of the overall product purchasing scenario in an organization [2]

A business process model as shown in this figure is a visual representation of the sequence of activities and steps involved in a specific business process, from initiation to completion. It provides a structured overview of the entire process, connecting the activities with the relevant resources, systems, and decision points.

While these deliverables may seem to serve distinct purposes and are written from different viewpoints, they share the goal of helping to understand and optimize the flow of work, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness. Both capture the interdependencies between people, processes and tools, allowing organizations to identify bottlenecks, streamline operations, and improve overall performance.

Moreover, the similarities between UX designers and analysts extend beyond gathering requirements or optimizing processes. Both UX designers and functional analysts contribute to effective communication within a project team: UX designers create visual artifacts, such as user journey maps and personas, to communicate user insights and design concepts. Likewise, functional analysts create documentation and visual artifacts, such as business process models and functional specifications, to communicate requirements and system behavior. So both roles play a vital role in ensuring that the project team has a shared understanding of user needs and project objectives.

Different realms

By marrying the outside-in with the inside-out perspective, organizations can develop strategies that harmoniously
balance customer satisfaction and business viability, enabling to thrive in a competitive landscape.

At AE we strongly advocate for dismantling the barriers between the so-called realms of UX designers and analysts to make sure that teams benefit from both the outside-in perspective of a UX designer and the inside-out view of an analyst.

When business process models are developed alongside personas and service blueprints, a holistic understanding of the customer experience emerges. The outside-in perspective ensures a deep understanding of customer needs, preferences, and pain points, guiding the design of exceptional experiences. Simultaneously, the inside-out view brings valuable insights into the organization's operational capabilities, resources, and constraints. By marrying these perspectives, organizations can develop strategies that harmoniously balance customer satisfaction and business viability, enabling them to thrive in a competitive landscape.

We have witnessed the consequences of disregarding the integration of outside-in and inside-out perspectives, which can lead to substantial risks and overlooked opportunities. When UX designers and analysts work in isolation, internal competition may arise as each discipline strives to bring value independently. This siloed approach prevents UX designers from gaining a deep understanding of the underlying reasons behind suboptimal experiences and the efforts required to implement their proposed improvements. Similarly, without the outside-in view, analysts run the risk of optimizing processes solely for internal efficiency, disregarding potential negative effects on their clients. Additionally, by neglecting the outside-in perspective, analysts may overlook the importance of data-informed decision-making, relying instead on assumptions about use cases, user needs, and behavior.

Use case: mobile banking app

To illustrate further the similarities of UX designers and analysts, imagine we're improving a mobile banking app. An analyst would closely examine the business process, modeling out the step-by-step flow of activities involved in banking operations. By understanding the sequence and dependencies of these activities, the analyst can determine the necessary functionalities and improvements required for the app and will have a deep understanding of the impact of these improvements on the current architecture and application landscape. Moreover, by creating these models, analysts are able to communicate their observations to all the stakeholders

Similarly, a UX designer would closely observe how users interact with the different touchpoints and create personas and customer journeys to communicate the specific needs, goals and pain points of the target users. By analyzing the pain points identified in the customer journey, they can uncover valuable opportunities to enhance the user experience. These opportunities can be translated into specific features, enhancements, or improvements within the app that directly address users' needs and elevate their overall experience with the mobile banking service.

With this example, it becomes apparent that both UX designers and analysts observe processes to identify opportunities for improvement and communicate their findings and recommendations to stakeholders.

Let’s continue this example to show how a UX designer and an analyst might work together.

Imagine that the UX designer identified the pain points for one of the main personas of this banking app, namely the "Busy Professional" and that their pain points include the difficulties managing multiple accounts, the time-consuming process for tracking expenses, and navigating complex authentication processes. Solving these pain points are valuable opportunities for improvement.

However, not all these improvements can or should be implemented at once so they should be prioritized based on the value they bring to both the user and the business and that’s the point at which the views of the analyst and the UX designer can strengthen each other.

More concretely, the business process model can play a crucial role in the prioritization process as this model enables the analyst to gain a comprehensive understanding of the intricate flow of activities within banking operations and identify bottlenecks that contribute to pain points. Furthermore, this model facilitates the evaluation of each opportunity's potential impact on existing processes and the application landscape. As a result, the analyst and UX designer can collaboratively select opportunities that simultaneously enhance the user experience and improve operational efficiency, ensuring feasibility remains a central consideration throughout the decision-making process.

In this particular example, the product team may prioritize the development of features related to expense tracking, driven by the organization's existing internal processes for generating valuable data insights from customer expenses. By leveraging these established processes, implementing these features becomes feasible within a shorter timeframe. Furthermore, this focus on expense tracking specifically caters to the needs of the "busy professional" user segment, providing them with a valuable tool to manage their finances effectively. Importantly, the impact on other processes and applications is minimal, ensuring smooth integration and minimizing disruptions to existing systems. This strategic decision allows the organization to quickly deliver value to users while maintaining operational efficiency.

So by combining the user insights delivered by the UX designer and business and application insights delivered by the analyst, we gain a holistic understanding of the user experience landscape and how this will fit into the applicative and business landscape. This alignment empowers us to pinpoint specific areas where improvements and innovations are feasible and can generate significant value for both users and the business. It enables us to deliver a mobile banking app that not only addresses user pain points but also drives operational excellence and business growth.


In conclusion, it is evident that UX designers and functional analysts share a common objective, despite their seemingly different roles and perspectives. At AE, we advocate for combining their perspectives because designers will gain better insights into the feasibility of their suggestions, while analysts will rely more on data and insights instead of assumptions, ultimately focusing on delivering value to clients.

Additionally, we believe that harnessing the synergies between UX designers and analysts enhances the ability to deliver exceptional user experiences while considering the organization's operational capabilities. By embracing collaboration and combining their viewpoints, organizations can achieve the delicate balance between customer satisfaction and business success in today's competitive landscape.

Furthermore, both UX designers and analysts contribute to effective communication within project teams by creating visual artifacts and documentation that convey user insights, design concepts, requirements, and system behavior. This shared understanding of user needs and project objectives is vital for project success.


[1] Kazemzadeh, Y., Milton, S. K., & Johnson, L. W. (2015). A conceptual comparison of service blueprinting and business process modeling notation (BPMN). Asian Social Science, 11(12), 307-318.

[2] Lodhi, A., Köppen, V., Wind, S., Saake, G., & Turowski, K. (2014). Business Process Modeling Language for Performance Evaluation. 2014 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 3768-3777.