Jared M. Spool

Jared SpoolJared is Founding Principal of User Interface Engineering. He's been working in the field of usability and design since 1978, before the term "usability" was ever associated with computers. Jared has guided the research agenda and built UIE into the largest research organization of its kind in the world.

Jared is a top-rated speaker at more than 20 conferences every year. He is also the conference chair and keynote speaker at the annual User Interface Conference, and is on the faculty of the Tufts University Gordon Institute.

Jared's posts:

UIEtips: Developing a Right Feeling for Designing with Type

July 30th, 2014 by Jared Spool

You know that feeling when you look at a web site and think everything looks just right? It flows well, there’s a nice balance of white space, and it’s pleasing on the eyes. Perhaps you may not realize it but it’s likely that the type plays the dominant role in this. Today’s article looks at three steps to make you more comfortable when designing with type.

If you struggle with determining the right type to design with, then Tim Brown’s UI19 workshop Designing with Type is perfect for you.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

There are lots of creative activities that are refined using feel as the guide. Master chefs combine ingredients, not in exact amounts, but because they have a feel for what will taste great together. Seasoned musicians can play the right notes at the right time for the right length, because they know what will sound right.

Interestingly, anyone can develop these feelings. It takes study and practice because it’s a learned skill. The experienced designers we talked to didn’t always know how to design with type. But how do you learn it?

Read the article: Developing a Right Feeling for Designing with Type.

How did you learn typography? Leave us a note below.

9 Glowing Remarks You’d Like Your Boss to Say About You

July 28th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Wow! You just significantly enhanced the user experience of our site. You did an amazing job facilitating discussions around our goals, roles, and responsibilities. Creating those scenarios helped identify and resolve many of our design issues. And mapping out the conversation we want with our customers and designing around that was brilliant.

The way the site now shows data is very impressive. It is clear, concise, and easy to understand. You really captured the nuances of the microinteractions with our users.

Some how you conveyed the right importance and hierarchies for the site through typography. You really nailed it.

As you know, mobile design was critical for us. I’m impressed with the layouts and navigation you implemented to make the mobile experience exceptional.

The User Interface 19 Conference was an amazing learning opportunity. I’m so glad we sent the entire team!

Want to make this type of impression?

It is no easy task to achieve the skills that lead you to these types of rave reviews. That’s why the format of the User Interface 19 Conference is built around hands-on, full day workshops so you become proficient at that topic.

Make yourself the most valuable UX person possible by attending UI19 in Boston October 27-29. Use the promotion code BLOGUI19 and get $300 off the current price. Send a team of four or more and get $500 off each person (make sure you use the code BLOGUI19 for the full discount).

Now go figure out which amazing workshops is right for you.

UIEtips: Designing Microinteractions

July 24th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Microinteractions can truly delight the user or go completely unnoticed and be void of an actual interaction. In today’s article, we look back on an interview with Jared Spool and Dan Saffer on what microinteractions are and how they can completely change the user experience.

Last year’s Designing for Microinteractions workshop from Dan was the highest rated workshop. We’re excited to have him back again October 29 in Boston at UI19. Learn what it takes to make effective microinteractions.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Jared: In this day and age, anybody who’s doing any sort of app, whether it’s desktop or mobile or even just building some content-related stuff, there are microinteractions involved in that.

Dan: There are microinteractions involved in every product. The question is whether you’re actually going to spend the time and care to make them the best that they can be. In my opinion, you’re only as good as your worst microinteraction. There’s a lot of things that are completely undifferentiated, but if you have some really nice microinteractions around it, that makes all the difference in the world. An obvious example is your operating system. Most operating systems are doing the exact same things. How all those things work is all about people focusing on the microinteractions inside the operating system and that really differentiates one from the other.

Read the article: Designing Microinteractions.

How have you created microinteractions in your designs and products? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Lean Content

July 15th, 2014 by Jared Spool

How lean is your content? Are you testing your messages to see if it generates a click before creating lots of marketing copy? That’s what Steph Hay discusses in today’s article on lean content.

If you’re challenged to find the right words for your customers and feel there’s a disconnect between your content and your design, then you’ll want to attend Steph Hay’s daylong workshop at the User Interface 19 Conference in Boston October 27. Explore Steph’s workshop Content-First UX Design: A Lean Approach.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I’m now regularly applying lean principles to content development in my own work with FastCustomer. Seriously, the hardest part has been putting aside my creative journalistic ego. The laser-focus it gives the rest of our efforts is incredible.

I’m also advocating this approach while mentoring via 500 Startups. (Holla!) For example, SafeShepherd was ready to do blogger outreach, but they didn’t yet know which messages were making users come to their site in the first place. This is SO COMMON, but it renders any press or user-acquisition attempts fairly crap-shoot-ish. Which is a bummer, because it’s just not as smart as it can be.

So, lean content is all about writing in smarter ways — by testing messages to find what makes people click.

Read the article: Lean Content.

How does your organization test your messaging? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Design’s Fully-Baked Deliverables and Half-Baked Artifacts

July 9th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Creating artifacts is critical to convey our design ideas and decisions. Without these artifacts the design deliverables are likely to not meet the objectives and perform poorly. Today’s article discusses how artifacts and deliverables are connected and how the artifact eventually becomes the deliverable.

Both Leah Buley and Marc Stickdorn discuss the process and curation of artifacts in their full-day workshops at the User Interface 19 Conference in Boston, October 27-29. Learn more about all of the workshops.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A design’s story isn’t just its final outcome. The story also needs to include the journey the team took to arrive at that outcome.

Artifacts are useful for communicating that journey. In fact, it can make for a very powerful presentation to stakeholders to show some of the artifacts that demonstrate the constraints, challenges, and thinking behind the final design.

Surfacing the effort can be both enlightening and entertaining. (After all, who doesn’t like the behind-the-scenes footage found in the DVD extras?)

Deliverables tell the story of what we think the design should be. Artifacts tell the story of how we got there. Each are powerful storytelling tools.

Read the article: Design’s Fully-Baked Deliverables and Half-Baked Artifacts.

How does you and your team overcome the challenge of differentiating between artifacts and deliverables? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: 6 Tips for Organizing Sketched Artifacts

July 2nd, 2014 by Jared Spool

Sketching plays a vital role in UX design. It’s how we put a visual component to our ideas, communicate with others, and document our process. But how to organize and hold on to these sketches isn’t always as organized as we like. Below Nathan Curtis shares six tips on organizing sketched artifacts. Some are simple yet eye opening ideas.

We realize how important it is to sketch and it’s one of the reasons that we’re giving every UI19 conference attendee a designer’s toolkit when they register for the conference by July 3. See what tools are in this kit to help you make great designs.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The more EightShapes sketches, however, the more we desire to retrieve and share those ideas later-to revisit abandoned, complex, or unrealistic notions of a better experience, to remind ourselves of passing ideas.

We may find ourselves amid the next hour’s design studio summation. Or the day’s prototyping. Or the next week’s task scoping. Or the next quarter’s project proposal. But the sketch’s value extends beyond the initial presentation and discussion.

Read the article: 6 Tips for Organizing Sketched Artifacts.

How have you organized your archive of sketches?  Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: UX Design, Role-playing & Micromoments

June 24th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Stephen Anderson thinks about micro-moments in a design a lot. He even goes as far as role playing what the interaction would be like with another designer (as you’ll see in today’s article). It’s a funny and eye opening experience.

This is just one part of what Stephen is covering in his full-day UI19 workshop, Design Skills for Complex Understanding and Problem Solving on October 27. See how you can present data in compelling, contextually relevant formats in his workshop.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Good interaction design is about attending to every moment that passes between a person and the device (or system, or service) with which he or she is interacting. These moments can be explicit, as with gestures, taps, a button-click, or the completion of a form field. Or, these moments may be more elusive, such as a pause while you try and understand what is being asked of you or how to answer. It’s these internal conversations that users have at any given moment that often get overlooked.

Read the article: UX Design, Role-playing & Micromoments.

What micro-moments have your experiences that added to — or diminished — your experience with a design?  Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: The Dirty Dozen Roadmap Roadblocks

June 18th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we share an article from Bruce McCarthy. In it, Bruce defines the product roadmap and offers twelve areas where organizations break down when developing roadmaps. Best of all, he shares ideas on how to put all twelve roadblocks in your rearview mirror.

Want to hear more from Bruce? He’s presenting our next virtual seminar on June 26, Lean Roadmapping: Where Product Management & UX Meet.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A good roadmap inspires. It inspires buy-in from executives, inspires confidence from customers and salespeople, and inspires development teams to produce the groundbreaking products that drive significant growth.

 A good roadmap keeps your organization on course toward its destination. Stating what you will do and when makes it easy to judge when you fall behind schedule or get detoured by good ideas that just don’t fit your strategic vision.

Read the article: The Dirty Dozen Roadmap Roadblocks.

What roadblocks have challenged your organization in creating product roadmaps?  Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Customizing Help and Tips by Input Type

June 11th, 2014 by Jared Spool

It’s not uncommon that an interaction for an app on a mobile device is completely different than a desktop. Could inline help be the answer to communicating the necessary action? It’s not so easy as that as Luke Wroblewski points out in this week’s UIEtips. You still have to surface the hidden interface.

Thinking about mobile design first is Luke’s mantra and what he’ll focus on in his full day workshop at this year’s User Interface Conference, October 27-29 in Boston. Explore how Luke will shift your thinking beyond the desktop.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A common way to provide relevant bits of guidance inside an application is through inline help. Inline help is positioned where it’s most useful in an interface and made visible by default so people don’t have to do anything to reveal it. This makes it an effective way to tell people how to use an interface. But what happens when those instructions vary by input type.

Read the article: Customizing Help and Tips by Input Type.

How do you and your team create interfaces that work with different screen sizes and input types? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Content and Design Are Inseparable Work Partners

June 4th, 2014 by Jared Spool

It’s not uncommon within organizations that web site content is treated differently and separately from the web site design process. Yet the users do not separate the two and see it as one experience. When the content and design process are not done hand-in-hand, poor user experiences is often the result. Today’s article focuses on this issue.

Tying together your content and design process is such an important issue that we’ve brought in Steph Hay to do a full day workshop on it at the UI19 Conference in Boston, October 27-29. Steph will show you how to map conversations as a first step to designing customer-centric user experiences.Learn more about Steph’s workshop.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It’s not news that the content is the important part of the design. For years, Karen McGrane has told us that working on the design without considering the content is like giving your best friend a beautifully wrapped empty box for their birthday. They’ll enjoy opening it, but will be sorely disappointed with the entirety results. And recently, Steph Hay reminded us that “content is the entire reason people come to the design in the first place.”

The new thinking is that content creation and management cannot be a separate endeavor from design creation and management. That we need to inseparably integrate the two, structurally and organizationally, to create great experiences.

Read the article: Content and Design are Inseparable Work Partners.

What can your organization do to make design and content feel more integrated? Tell us about it below.