dano qualls

ux researcher and product designer


I'm a researcher and designer who finds satisfaction in solving hard problems. I'm happiest at work when I can be a part of the entire design process, from discovering the user’s world before you ever brainstorm a solution, all the way to delivering the final product. 

You can read how I developed a product designer's mindset and skills in the background section. I’m starting to write my thoughts on what it means to be a senior designer in the selected writings section. There are a few examples of research, ux design, and business design / ux strategy below, but my most recent work cannot be shared there.


I’ve heard that the difference between a junior and senior designer is that a junior designer can create a brilliant solution for a well-defined problem, and a senior designer can create a brilliant solution for a vague problem. I’ve learned that (and a few other important things) in my eight years of creating digital products and services. Here are some of the key lessons. I hope to turn these into blog posts this year.



UX research and design agency in San Jose, CA that does the best research I’ve ever seen, and creates designs that consistently solve problems for big clients by simplifying, organizing, and making things obvious. My projects were in the industries of: aerospace, building physical security, emotion research, database server analysis, and surgery tools.

Blog posts coming soon:

  • The importance of research of every stage of planning, design, and re-design

  • Redesigning a legacy system (and why you can’t judge or blame the previous designer)

  • Making the complex simple (and why it got complex, in the first place)

  • The devil is in the details, and so is the success of a design


Recreation.gov (Booz Allen Hamilton)

Our team built a completely new version of Recreation.gov for 8+ government agencies managing federal lands. I worked with two scrum teams as a product owner, researcher, and designer. We worked with requirements, scoped backlogs, and turned designs into working code.

Blog posts coming soon:

  • The key to keeping stakeholders happy — documentation

  • Why being a designer can make you a better product manager

  • Why our satellite dev teams were just as successful as the headquarters teams


Master of Science, Human Factors in Information Design (Bentley University)

After a few years working in UX, I started attending an evening degree program. Here are a few things I learned there.


Fidelity Investments

Our team modernized legacy Fidelity.com service interactions (apply for options trading, change of address, margin account, etc.). I worked on three scrum teams over two years and performed my own usabilty research. I delivered pixelperfect designs using the Fidelity design system.

Blog posts coming soon:

  • Working with and innovating within design systems

  • The importance of good product managers

  • Making the most of guerilla research

  • Walking decision makers to fruitful conclusions


Fresh Tilled Soil

This UX design agency hosts two UX apprentice cohorts each year. The apprentices assist with client projects and work together on apprentice learning assignments. Apprentices develop skills in front-end development (HTML, CSS, JS), visual design, and UX strategy.

Blog posts coming soon:

  • Learning to discuss design was the hardest thing about becoming a designer (and how improv comedy has helped)


WineKick / Drink Crate (Startups)

I served as the head of design, marketing, and sales for our five-person team. We created a wine recommendation app that evolved into a kiosk for liquor and grocery stores. My design responsibilities included interviewing users and creating the information architecture / interaction design.

Blog posts coming soon:

  • UX exists to help the company thrive (and why the best product won’t save your company)

  • If I did more discovery research, would I have ever founded my startup?


Hipmunk vs. Google Flights

Quantitative study comparing the efficiency of the tools, as well as the impact of brand personality

Why do people join a community?

Behavioral trends research to uncover why people join communities, so PegaSystems can create a better developer community

HBR.org Usability Study

Qualitative usability studies to improve HBR.org, with a focus on mobile

Fidelity Investments

User Experience Design (UXD) Projects

July 2015 - March 2017


How can we make it easy to invest in businesses that are good for the environment?

Spare-change auto-investing inspired by Instagram-style stories.


How can we provide on-demand medical services in Nigeria?

Designing an artificially-intelligent system to assist in triage and routing of doctors to patients.

Drink Crate

How might we disrupt the $400B alcohol industry?

Creating the world's first crowd-sourced alcohol branding platform.


How might we make it easy for people to save for retirement?

Using simplicity and restricted choice to make the world's easiest and most effective retirement savings product.


How might we help liquor stores increase sales and loyalty?

Making wine discovery easy for novices with the Wine Sidekick.

AUX Form Challenge

One of the Fresh Tilled Soil Apprentice in UX Design (AUX) challenges was to create a web form using progressively enhanced HTML, CSS, and JS from scratch. See the original design here.


The site you are viewing now was created in Squarespace. I'm creating one very similar to it using Zurb Foundation and hosting it on github.io. When it's ready I'll redirect danoqualls.com to that site. 

Rails Tutorial

I worked through Michael Hartl's Ruby on Rails tutorial in an attempt to create the Lab Notebook by myself. Building it solo was a bit beyond my current skillset, but we brought in another developer and used my designs. It is hosted internally at Fidelity at this time.