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: 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.

UIEtips: Dissecting Design – Part 2

May 28th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we offer part two of Ben Callahan’s article, Dissecting Design. In it, he explores which tools are the most helpful for different parts of the design process.

Ben was one of our top speakers at this year’s UX Immersion Mobile Conference and we’re pleased to have him back for our next virtual seminar on June 5, Responsive Workflows: Because There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Process.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I believe many people in our industry struggle with “design in the browser” simply because they aren’t fluent with the tools needed for working that way. I’ve heard many people say, “Happy accidents don’t happen in code like they do in PhotoShop.” I can testify that this is absolutely not true. Instead, I believe it’s about where you are the most fluent.

As we evaluate the best tools for the monumental task of problem solving in design, I keep coming back to the ideal of fluency as a solid principle on which to base the decision. You can’t write poetry in a language you don’t speak. Similarly, you can’t craft design using tools you’re not fluent with.

Read part two of the article here.

Missed part one? Read it here.

What tools do you and your team find most efficient and effective in solving design problems?  Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Dissecting Design – Part 1

May 21st, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, Ben Callahan dissects the design process to explore which tools are the most helpful for different parts of the process.

Ben was one of our top speakers at this year’s UX Immersion Conference, and he’s also presenting our next virtual seminar on June 5, Responsive Workflows: Because There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Process.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In the past few years, we’ve recognized the danger in jumping headfirst into full-comp design before we really understand the design direction. Other disciplines have recognized this for a long time-think mood boards in branding-and taken steps to ramp up their design effort. The goal here is to establish the basic building blocks we’ll use in the rest of the design process: things like color, type, texture, illustration style, photography treatment, iconography. Once these are established, the success rate for the rest of the process is greatly increased. There are a number of ways to do this on the web; let’s look at a few.

Read part one of the two part article: Dissecting Design.

How does your team handle design? Leave us a note below.

Get Access to the 2014 UXIM Video Recordings Now

May 20th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Get access to all 8 UX Immersion Mobile videos for just $23/month through All You Can Learn by UIE. Additionally, your subscription allows you to view any of the 170+ seminars and other conference recordings.

The UXIM recording topics and speakers:

Brad Frost

Brad Frost
Building Dynamic Systems from Atomic Elements

Cyd Harrell

Cyd Harrell
Doing Pocket Research to Learn About Your Users’ Lives

Karen McGrane

Karen McGrane
Defining Your Mobile
Content Strategy

Jason Grigsby

Jason Grigsby
Adapting to Different
Forms of Input

Luke Wroblewski

Luke Wroblewski
Mobile Behavior and
Design Trends

Ben Callahan

Ben Callahan
Dissecting Design

Nate Schutta

Nate Schutta
Choosing Which Mobile Experience to Build

Jared Spool

Jared Spool
How Do We Design Designers?

Get Access to the Recordings for $23/month

UIEtips: Attaining a Collaborative Shared Understanding

May 14th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we look back at an article that discusses two types of shared understanding we uncovered and how one of them is far more likely to end with a successful design.

Our next virtual seminar with Dan Brown covers shared understanding and how you and your team interprets and responds to everyday design challenges. Join us on May 15, 2014 for our next virtual seminar, Make Collaboration Happen, Even with Stubborn People.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I remember seeing an architect who talked about his best projects. When he walked through the finished building for the first time, he said it felt completely familiar because it matched exactly what he’d imagined years before. His intention had made it all the way through the implementation process.

Seeing our designs rendered exactly as we imagined them is exciting. Yet it’s frustrating when our designs aren’t implemented the way we were thinking.

As we study what makes design teams successful, shared understanding keeps bubbling up to the top of our list. Teams that attain a shared understanding are far more likely to get a great design than those teams who fail to develop a common perception of the project’s goals and outcome.

Read the article: Attaining a Collaborative Shared Understanding.

Which approach (contractual or collaborative) do you feel would be most effective in helping your team to attain shared understanding? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Scenarios and Journey Maps Help Designers Become Storytellers

May 7th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In today’s UIEtips, Jared Spool explains how storytelling is the core of design communication. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Knowing how to change the users’ behaviors is one thing. Knowing which behaviors to change is another.

There are often many approaches to improving a design. Everyone can think they are working towards a better overall experience, but if each team member chooses a different approach, the design becomes confusing and complex.

When we’re working on a team, getting the entire team to work together from the same approach becomes job one. Smaller teams (such as those with six or less folks) have always had an easier time of this than larger ones. This is because it’s more likely the smaller teams are checking in and talking to each other.

Fortunately, there’s help for larger teams. It comes in a technique that is as old as humanity – storytelling.

Read the article Scenarios and Journey Maps Help Designers Become Storytellers.

How do you encourage creating stories in your design team? Tell us about it below.

Register for UI19 by May 15 to Secure the Lowest Rate

May 7th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Take advantage of the $1,395 Rate – Register by May 15

Save money and guarantee your spot in the workshops of your choice. Register for the User Interface 19 Conference, October 27–29, in Boston at the lowest rate of $1,395 by May 15.

    “Both the workshops and speeches were extremely useful and inspiring. The whole experience was beyond my (high) expectations!”

- Juha Rouvinen

Watch the UI19 Preview Video

Your UI19 Registration Includes:

  • Immediate access to UIE’s All You Can Learn for one year. This resource includes virtual seminars from many of the UI19 workshop leaders plus past conference recordings
  • Two daylong workshops and a day of featured talks from the workshop presenters
  • Complete conference materials from all the workshops and talks
  • Access to video recordings of the featured talks through All You Can Learn
  • A designer’s toolkit to help you create and communicate your design ideas

Save your spot, guarantee your workshops, and get the lowest price when you sign-up by
May 15.

UIEtips: Misconceptions about Collaboration

April 30th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In today’s UIEtips, Dan Brown of EightShapes discusses the three ways in which people misunderstand collaboration. You’ll be much more successful encouraging collaboration with an understanding of these misconceptions.

Want more of Dan’s thinking about design teams and collaboration? Join us on May 15 when he presents our next virtual seminar, Make Collaboration Happen, Even with Stubborn People.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Sometimes, people think of collaboration in very simple terms, ignoring the planning, structure, and organization it requires. There are three common misconceptions that oversimplify collaboration, as discussed next:

Throw smart people together. Suffice it to say that working with smart people is satisfying and challenging. But collaboration isn’t just about smarts. It’s about providing a framework for working together. Just as important as intelligence is a willingness to work within the framework.

Read the article Misconceptions about Collaboration.

How do you encourage collaboration in your team? Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Pleasure, Flow, and Meaning — The 3 Approaches to Designing for Delight

April 24th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

We can measure a design on a scale from frustration to delight. The middle of this scale is a neutral point, where the design is neither frustrating nor delightful. It doesn’t suck, but it’s not remarkable either. It’s just a neutral experience.

When improving a bad design, we first must remove the frustrating bits to get to that neutral point. Observation of the users’ experience, followed by careful rethinking of the design can remove everything that’s introducing frustration.

Improving the design from the neutral point, to introduce delight is a different process. It’s additive, whereas getting to the neutral point is reductive. We have to know what to add to make the experience become delightful.

Read the article Pleasure, Flow, and Meaning — The 3 Approaches to Designing for Delight.

What approach does your team take to add delight to your design? Tell us about it below.