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:

UIE Newsletter: The New Design Leader Emphasizes Leadership

July 29th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I discuss the changing roles of a design leader, whose focus should be more on leadership than on design.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

As we learn more about the current cohort of design leaders—the ones who are making their organizations more competitive through design—we find they are nothing like this mythical ideal super-designer. Their superpowers aren’t turning everything they touch into beautiful works to be idolized.

Instead, they focus more on leadership than on design. That isn’t to say they ignore design, rather that great design is the touchstone by which they bring everyone together.

Read the article: The New Design Leader Emphasizes Leadership.

How do you define a successful design leader? Share your thoughts with us below.

UIEtips: Designing with Scenarios – Putting Personas to Work

July 22nd, 2015 by Jared Spool

Storytelling is a natural form of expression. We’ve all been telling stories from a very young age. In the design process, personas become the tool we use to tell our users’ stories. And with good personas in place, usage scenarios can become the micro-stories that drive your design decisions.

Kim Goodwin tells us that scenarios put the design into the context of how and why the user will interact with it. In 2011 Kim presented a UIE Virtual Seminar, Designing with Scenarios: Putting Your Personas to Work.

Today’s UIEtips article is based on a discussion UIE’s Adam Churchill had with Kim. It’s based on two questions from the seminar: Do you need data to effectively do scenarios, and what’s the difference between scenarios and storyboarding?

Read the article: Designing with Scenarios: Putting Personas to Work.

What’s your experience with scenarios? Are you using data when developing them? Share your thoughts with us below.

UIEtips: Why Lean UX?

July 15th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint an article from Jeff Gothelf and Josh Seiden. They show us why Lean UX is important.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Lean UX is deeply collaborative and cross-functional, because we no longer have the luxury of working in isolation from the rest of the product team. We can’t continue to ask our teams to wait for us to figure it all out.

Read the article: Why Lean UX?

How do you implement Lean UX? Tell us about it below.

UIETips: Making Companies Competitive by Expanding Design’s Role

July 8th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I explore the positive effects of expanding design awareness in organizations.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In the last few years, companies like GE, Fidelity, Marriott, MasterCard, IBM, Paypal, Nasdaq, and Capital One have realized they can gain a competitive advantage by producing better downstream user experiences. They’re driving change in their industry by helping their customers’ organizations deliver better experiences in their own products and services. It’s not good enough to delight your direct customers. You have to delight all the customers and employees down the supply chain.

Read the article: Making Companies Competitive by Expanding Design’s Role.

How are you using design to become more competitive? Let us know below.

UIETips: Incorporating Content Strategy into Your Information Architecture

June 30th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, Margot Bloomstein shares examples of how organizations are successfully incorporating content strategy into their information architecture.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

What’s in, and what’s out? “In my experience, it is very easy for brilliant information architects (or UX people who do information architecture) to underestimate the importance of editorial planning, voice and tone, and detailed guidelines for content creation. And conversely, it’s very easy for highly skilled content people to underestimate how much information architecture has to do with things other than content: the finicky details of application behavior and interaction design, in particular. I’m a huge fan of collaborations between information architects who care about editorial concerns and content strategists who love structure and talking about data. But whatever your situation, it’s important to know your way around structural design, if only so that you can provide useful feedback and support.”

Read the article: Incorporating Content Strategy into Your Information Architecture.

Are you incorporating content strategy into your company’s information architecture? Let us know below.

UIETips: Hire UX Experts or Give Your Team Their Own UX Skills?

June 24th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint the article Hiring UX experts versus giving your team their own UX skills. In the article, I explain why you should be transitioning from a single UX expert to a UX-aware team.

Here’s an excerpt:

UX is a complex field because there are lots of complexities: accessibility, mobile design, working in government agencies, working in an agile development process, and dealing with cross-cultural needs, to name a few. Yet, these are edge cases. 80% of UX work is quite routine and when learned by everyone on the team, creates consistently good designs.

Read the article: Hiring UX experts versus giving your team their own UX skills.

Have you begun the shift to a UX-aware team rather than just one expert?

UIETips: Help! Is There a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the Room?

June 17th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint the article “Help! Is There a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the Room?”. In the article I explore UX roles, skills, and which is more important.

Here’s an excerpt:

Teams with the right skills are more likely to produce great user experiences. Teams missing the right skills are very unlikely to produce anything exciting or delightful. (Of course, we can’t say ‘never’. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every so often. But, if I’m staffing a team, I want to do so in a way that will have the best odds, no?)

Read the article: “Help! Is There a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the Room?”.

What skills do you look for in your team?

UIETips: Enabling Design Influence at Scale

June 10th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we publish an article from Chris Avore on Design Influence. In the article Chris  explores design driven success.

Here’s an excerpt:

Just showing the rest of the organization what your team is doing isn’t enough to scale design—it’s just giving you the credibility and visibility you’ll need when other leaders ask who to turn to when their own businesses or teams want to begin an engagement. To truly scale design, you have to put the methods of designers into the toolkit of the people who don’t report to you—product managers, to development teams, business analysts, marketers, account executives, and management, and maybe even the customers themselves.

Read the article: Enabling Design Influence at Scale.

How does your team create a common understanding of design responsibilities?

UIEtips: Beyond the UX Tipping Point

June 2nd, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint one of my original articles. In it, I reveal the past, present, and future of the UX Tipping Point.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

For an organization to move beyond the UX Tipping Point, it must first become literate in user experience, then fluent in how to produce great experiences. This doesn’t happen all at once, it can take years.

Read the article: Beyond the UX Tipping Point.

Where is your company on the journey to the UX Tipping Point? Leave us a note below.

UIETips: Riding the Magic Escalator of Acquired Knowledge

May 27th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In today’s UIEtips, we’re reprinting an article from me. In it I explore a simple visualization tool we invented to help teams and stakeholders see where their designs are too complex for their users and what they can do about it. I call this tool the Magic Escalator of Acquired Knowledge and, as you’ll see, it can be quite effective for getting the entire team working on making an easier-to-use design.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Mapping what we know about our users and their tasks on to the Magic Escalator of Acquired Knowledge can help us predict where those users are likely to encounter complexity issues. Looking at the top tasks and listing out what we think users know and don’t know can help us develop a strategy for creating simpler interfaces.

Read the article Riding the Magic Escalator of Acquired Knowledge.

How have you dealt with the complexity in your designs? Tell us about it below.