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: Service Design – Pushing Us Beyond the Familiar

August 26th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In a conventional UX approach, we’d focus on the bits. With service design, we go beyond and think about the cross-channel experience. Today’s article discusses the intricacies of service design and why you need to pay attention to it.

If you find yourself stumbling into the service design world with little direction, then Marc Stickdorn’s workshop at the UI19 conference is perfect for you. Marc will show you how to create a cohesive customer experience by expanding beyond digital and designing for every customer touch point. Explore his workshop, Service Design: Creating Delightful Cross-Channel Experiences.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

User research isn’t the only aspect of digital UX practice that we need to change when we start doing service design work. We need to look at how we prototype services, how we think about the information organized in the service delivery, how the service looks, and what behaviors we want each party to have when interacting in our designed experience.

Read the article: Service Design-Pushing Us Beyond the Familiar.

How have you blended your digital and non-digital channels to create better user experiences? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: UX Strategy Blueprint

August 20th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, Jim Kalbach defines and discusses how to consistently create a UX strategy. Here he shares a tool with you for doing so at your organization—the UX Strategy Blueprint.

If your strategy discussions feel more like political battles than progressive team-building, pay attention to Jim Kalbach. His virtual seminar on Thursday, August 28 is all about Defining a UX Design Strategy.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Analysis and planning, while necessary inputs and outputs in the strategy creation process, are not the core of strategy. You can’t analyze your way to strategy: the answers don’t magically emerge from data. And detailed roadmaps don’t provide the rationale for the activity they organize. Strategy does. It connects analysis and planning with an intentional logic that guides decision making.

Read the article: UX Strategy Blueprint.

Do you have a UX Strategy Blueprint to define your UX strategy? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Principles Over Process – Four Core Tenets for How to Work as a Team of One

August 13th, 2014 by Jared Spool

As a solo UX design practitioner, you may think setting up a specific process is best to get others within your organization on board. But that’s not necessarily the case. In today’s UIEtips, we offer an excerpt from Leah Buley’s book UX Team of One. Leah covers four principles to follow to achieve success as a the sole UX designer within an organization.

Are you a lone UX designer at your company trying to figure out how to get others on board with the UX process? At the UI19 Conference in Boston, October 27-29 Leah’s workshop UX as a Team Sport will show you how to involve peers, bosses, and users in the design process. Learn more about her workshop.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Principles are deceptively simple; they’re just statements, really. They are a way for you to articulate a vision for what your user-centered approach should ultimately entail. Principles can apply to not just what you make, but also how you work. Think of the following principles as core tenets for how to work as a team of one. With startling consistency, the most happy and successful teams of one explain that it’s their mindset, not just their methods, that keep them going.

Read the article: Principles Over Process – Four Core Tenets for How to Work as a Team of One.

How have design principles improved the end result of your UX project? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Introduction to Design Studio Methodology

August 5th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, Will Evans outlines how a Design Studio works and why it’s a critical component to collaborative design.

If your team has been practicing some form of Agile or Scrum, it likely has a very loose definition of an MVP, a Minimal Viable Product. Fortunately, Will is also presenting a seminar on this Thursday, August 14. Learn more about his seminar, Minimizing Design Risk with The Minimal Viable Product.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Design Studio is conducted in a highly interactive, fast-paced team setting following a methodology commonly used in architecture and industrial design, but with some important twists. It has been called the “Iron Chef,” of ideation. It can be intense, focused, and chaotic at times, but those lucky enough to have participated understand the power and effectiveness of this tool.

Read the article: Introduction to Design Studio Methodology.

How has collaborative design helped you and your team accomplish your goals? Leave us a note below.

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.