DIBI conference 2017 - Brent Palmer



Brent Palmer is a Lead Designer for Zendesk where he heads up UX and Design for Zendesk’s analytics product, Explore. Previously, Brent was Director UI/UX at TrendKite, an analytics platform for Public Relations professionals. Before a long career in technology, Brent spent ten years in advertising where he won several Addy Awards. 

Brent is active in the design community, speaks regularly at meet ups and has been a guest lecturer at several universities. He has two daughters who teach him the bets part of design is making mistakes. 

Design is dark matter and hard to manage, However Data has all the answers and eliminates issues! Right? Not exactly..

Designing with data has become easier than ever. Analytics tools are everywhere and readily available to designers, developers and marketers. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand or spot trends. If big data is here to stay, where does UX research fit?  

Brent explained why we need authentic, individual analysis more than ever and why charts still won’t reveal emotions or intent. He walked through some examples of where data enhances, not replaces, real conversations with customers.

Analytic ( Quantitative) vs Telling the story (Qualitative) 

Analytic ( Quantitative) vs Telling the story (Qualitative) 

In many cases data has revealed to have all the answers and eliminate a lot of risk when it comes to design decisions. When we have a project manager wanting to get projects turned over and out the door, the option to follow a quantitative data solution is often over ruled. However, It is important to allow both quantitative and qualitative analytic to enable a natural balance between telling the clients story and implementing improvements lead by analytics and data.

Quantitative data is information about quantities; that is, information that can be measured and written down with numbers. This Neocortex part of the humans brain controls how users act this involves higher functions such perception, motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and language. This Data can be used to monitor behaviours and the way someone uses a website. This side of the brain can be easily manipulated depending on the changes/ improvements made on a site, but we, as designers can not focus on purely quantitative data.

Qualitative data is typically descriptive data and as such is harder to analyse than quantitative data. Qualitative research is useful for studies at an individual level, and to find out, in depth, the ways in which people think or feel. This is extremely important when designing to consider user intent and emotional drives. The limbic system is the part of the brain that controls emotion, and memories. This can't be captured as easily as quantitative data and requires a skilled designer to make sure the user experiences the desired emotions when visiting the site. This is where a designer / team can create enjoyable experiences, new memories and change past experiences/behaviour, in turn working aiding decisions made from AB test, heat-maps, analytics and quantitate data.

Do your research on web interface movement tools, and explore analytic reporting platforms, here are some useful links to help get you started:

  1. The Content Strategist
  2. INC
  3. Useful Usability


  1. Articulating Design Decisions by Tom Greever

Every designer has had to justify their designs to a non-designer, yet most lack the ability to convince people they’re right. The ability to effectively articulate your decisions is critical to the success of a project, because the most articulate person usually wins. In this session, you’ll learn practical tips for talking about your designs to executives, managers, developers, and other designers with the goal of winning them over and getting your way when it comes to the final design.


2. High Resolution - Podcast
High Resolution is a limited video series on product design and design thinking.