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: Embracing the Medium

October 16th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint an article. In it, Richard Rutter discusses the web and its role as a medium. Richard argues that we should consider the fact that a user can shape their experience as a strength rather than a weakness.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The wonderful thing about the web is that it takes many forms and those forms can be shaped by the reader to his or her benefit. That is a strength not a weakness; a feature not a bug. The control which print designers have – and so often desire when they transition to the web – is a limitation of the printed medium.

Read the article: Embracing the Medium.

How do you shape your design with potential readers in mind? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Conducting Usability Research for Mobile

October 8th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint an article. In it, I speak with Cyd Harrell on conducting user research on mobile devices. I also make the case that mobile can be used as a research tool for things other than just the phone itself.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Jared: It feels almost like the lab is not necessarily the first choice for doing the research in a lot of these projects. Doing them in context is not that much more difficult. We should be strongly considering that as we’re doing the studies.

Cyd: I think we should. I strongly encourage people to do it. Again, live broadcast is a complexity, but if you’re not doing live broadcast, you have a lot of ways that you can be with someone.

Read the article: Conducting Usability Research for Mobile.

What else have you researched using mobile methods? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Promise, Vision, Scenario, and User Stories

October 1st, 2014 by Jared Spool

Creating delightful experiences doesn’t happen by chance. To do it right, you have to think about the promise you offer and how you’re delivering it. To do this you need scenarios to provide the context. In this article, I show you how the promise, vision and scenario work together.

Scenarios are used throughout so much of the design process. Creating and using scenarios is really a design fundamental. At the User Interface 19 Conference, Kim Goodwin will show you how to create scenarios that identify and resolve design issues. Learn more about Kim’s daylong workshop, Using Scenarios to Solve Design Problems.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Giving the stories a constant presence throughout the project is essential to ensuring the promise stays top of mind. Drawing the connections between the work being done today and the promise story the team wants their users to tell will help keep the work relevant.

Read the article: Promise, Vision, Scenario, and User Stories.

What stories are your users telling? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Execution is Everything

September 24th, 2014 by Jared Spool

There are thousands of good ideas thrown about daily, but to execute just one good idea takes considerable effort. It requires that a team stays focused and in tune with the goal. It requires a system for execution – OKRs. That’s what Christina Wodtke brings in this week’s article.

After we first heard Christina talk about OKRs for goal setting, we started to take action using her ideas. Now you too can get in on a great way to outline your goal setting. Our next UIE Virtual Seminar features Christina on Mapping Your Success with Objectives and Key Results, Tuesday October 7.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I almost never hear a new idea. In fact, it’s rare I hear an idea I haven’t thought of myself, unless it’s in an industry I’m unfamiliar with. It’s not because I’m a genius (I’m not). It’s that ideas are easier to come up with than you think. What’s hard — really hard— is moving from an idea to a reality. It’s hard to find the right form of an idea, a form that will let consumers see its value, understand how to interact with it, and feel excited enough to pay for it.

Read the article: Execution is Everything.

Have you taken any ideas from concept to reality? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Selecting Typefaces for Body Text

September 17th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Choosing the body content font type for your web site is no easy task. With so many choices, how do you know if what you have is the most eye catching, aesthetically pleasing, and meets accessibility standards? Tim Brown to the rescue with today’s UIEtips article, Selecting Typefaces for Body Text.

If you’ve ever wished you could confidently stand behind your typeface choices, critique designs, and fix existing typography problems, Tim’s workshop, Designing with Type is calling for you at the User Interface Conference in Boston October 27-29.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Reevaluate your decisions about shape sturdiness, color evenness, and texture activity in every context you care about, wherever your typeset text may live. Sturdy shapes that look fine at low resolution may look clunky at high resolution. Color and texture that seem even and active on a Mac may not feel the same on an Android tablet.

Read the article: Selecting Typefaces for Body Text.

What are the traits of some of your favorite typefaces? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: How Agile UX Can Be a Cost Effective Approach

September 9th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint an article from Jared Spool. In it, he shares ideas on getting low-cost iterations into your Agile development process. Jared also makes the case that UX-focused design is a team sport.

If you’re looking for more on tying UX design and your Agile process together, then you’re going to want to join us on September 18, when Aviva Rosenstein presents our next virtual seminar, Making UX Work with Agile Scrum Teams.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It’s tempting to let those UX-focused design team members do this early work while the rest of the team goes off and does other activities. However, the biggest value from these early iterations comes from the discussions and insights that emerge. The most successful teams involve everyone who will influence the eventual design—including developers and stakeholders—in their design studios and paper prototyping activities.

Read the article: Cost Effective Approaches to Iteration in Agile UX.

What techniques are you using to reduce the costs of iteration for your team? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Mobile as Medium — an Interview with Luke Wroblewski

September 3rd, 2014 by Jared Spool

Life would be so simple if all you had to do was reuse your existing website design for mobile devices. Well if you are doing that, you’re making a serious mistake. Today’s article is an excerpt from an interview that Jared Spool had with Luke Wroblewski back in June where they discuss the dangers of not designing for mobile.

We’re excited to have Luke Wroblewski do a daylong workshop on Mobile Design Essentials at this year’s UI19 Conference on October 27. Discover how this workshop will change your thinking.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

You start with the mobile experience. You make sure everything is great for that form factor, entering phone numbers and the like. What you’ll also find is, if you make it work well in the more constrained mobile environment, then it’s actually going to be a benefit on the bigger screen as well.

Read the article: Mobile as Medium–an Interview with Luke Wroblewski.

What considerations do you make when designing for mobile? Leave us a note below.

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.