Presented By
O’Reilly + Cloudera
Make Data Work
29 April–2 May 2019
London, UK
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Empathy: The secret ingredient in the design of engaging data products and analytics tools

Brian O'Neill (Designing for Analytics)
16:3517:15 Wednesday, 1 May 2019
Strata Business Summit, Visualization and UX
Location: Capital Suite 10/11
Secondary topics:  Visualization, Design, and UX
Average rating: ***..
(3.60, 5 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Product managers, analytics leaders, data scientists, founders, designers, and engineering leads



What you'll learn

  • Learn some of the nonvisual steps in the design process that data teams can leverage to create more engaging data products
  • Improve your interviewing skills: what questions to ask, how to ask them, and most importantly, how to listen
  • Explore before and after samples of designs that were changed based on the design techniques discussed


In 2019, Gartner predicted 80%+ of analytics insights won’t deliver outcomes through 2022, despite ongoing and sizable investments in technology and data. Executives worry about having an AI strategy. Data scientists worry about making their models as accurate as possible. IoT teams stay busy juggling telemetry, alerts, and APIs. Report developers do their best to visualize the data, and engineers try to glue it all together and ship it. However, if business value is dependent on specific users engaging successfully with a decision support application or data product, then teams must design these solutions around the people using them—not the data or technology.

Low engagement and poor usability—often stemming from the creation of solutions in search of problems—is a common challenge for product managers and leaders of data products and analytics initiatives. Human-centered design provides a process to help teams discover, define, and fall in love with customer problems and needs so that solutions encourage meaningful engagement, inspire action, and deliver business value.

At the root of designing good products and services is learning to develop empathy for the customers who will use the service. Brian O’Neill explains how design—sometimes called “design thinking”—is fundamentally improving the bottom line of business and can help data teams uncover the real problems and needs of customers and business stakeholders. Join in to learn and practice a key aspect of good design: how to properly interview stakeholders and users. Armed with empathy, data product teams gain a clearer picture of the needs, attitudes, and goals of customers and stakeholders, which in turn informs much clearer problem spaces and solutions and improves the chances of delivering a valuable, useful user experience.

Photo of Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill

Designing for Analytics

Brian O’Neill is the founder and consulting product designer at Designing for Analytics, where he focuses on helping companies design indispensable data products that customers love. Brian’s clients and past employers include Dell EMC, NetApp, TripAdvisor, Fidelity, DataXu, Apptopia, Accenture, MITRE, Kyruus,, JPMorgan Chase, the Future of Music Coalition, and E*TRADE, among others; over his career, he has worked on award-winning storage industry software for Akorri and Infinio. Brian has been designing useful, usable, and beautiful products for the web since 1996. Brian has also brought over 20 years of design experience to various podcasts, meetups, and conferences such as the O’Reilly Strata Conference in New York City and London, England. He is the author of the Designing for Analytics Self-Assessment Guide for Non-Designers as well numerous articles on design strategy, user experience, and business related to analytics. Brian is also an expert advisor on the topics of design and user experience for the International Institute for Analytics. When he is not manning his Big Green Egg at a BBQ or mixing a classic tiki cocktail, Brian can be found on stage performing as a professional percussionist and drummer. He leads the acclaimed dual-ensemble Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, which the Washington Post called “anything but straightforward,” and has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Montreal Jazz Festival. If you’re at a conference, just look for only guy with a stylish orange leather messenger bag.