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: Responsive Design for Apps

February 25th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips article, Jason Grigsby tackles the concept of responsive design for mobile apps. He looks at widgets for desktop and mobile and explores the idea if phones are really different platforms than tablets.

When it comes to incorporating and understanding mobile first responsive design, Jason Grigsby is one of the UX superstars to turn to. That’s why we’ve asked him to do a full-day workshop at this year’s UX Immersion Mobile Conference, April 7-9 in Denver, CO.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

 A few months ago I was tasked with finding a good solution for a client who wanted to move to responsive design, but had a web app that they needed to support as well. The question they asked is one that I’ve seen others argue about in the past: does responsive design make sense for apps?

Read the article Responsive Design for Apps.

How does your company decide which form factors to design for when developing a responsive app? Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Content Marketing Sustains the Conversation

February 19th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In today’s UIEtips, Ahava Leibtag shares an excerpt from Chapter 9 of her book, The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web, to explain the challenges content marketing can solve and the set of tools it provides you.

If you’re looking to expand upon traditional content strategy-both external (branding, messaging, tone) and internal (governance, workflows)-by folding UX into the conversation, you’ll want to join us on February 20, when Ahava presents her virtual seminar, Designing Effective Content Marketing.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

As a UX, web and communications professional, you have daily challenges that are ever present on any given day. Today’s technologies are so fast, and accessibility to information so consistent and portable, that capturing your audiences’ attention and focus seems like an insurmountable problem.

Everyone says content is the solution, but when you try to find new ways to manage it in your organization, you feel like you’re fighting an ancient beast from the deep. Why is content so hard? How do you lasso this monstrous beast and align your content developments to your business objectives? And what’s this new thing everyone is talking about called content marketing?

Read the article Content Marketing Sustains the Conversation.

How does your organization align content development with business objectives?  Tell us about it below.

Get Lifetime Access to the UXIM 2013 Recordings for Free

February 18th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Get the UXIM 2013 OnDemand Recordings on us!

We’re celebrating the fantastic program at this year’s UX Immersion Mobile Conference by giving everyone lifetime access to the 2013 sold out conference.

Hear the same great content as the attendees from these top UX experts who shared their best practices for improving mobile UX skills.

  • Luke Wroblewski – Create designs without compromising optimization
  • Chris Risdon – Tell a visual story of what pains and delights your customers
  • Kelly Goto – Design with your customers’ behavior in mind
  • Cyd Harrell – Make better personas with tools to interpret user data faster
  • Jason Grigsby – Look into the future of designing for TV
  • Karen McGrane – Chunk your content to adapt to different contexts
  • Dana Chisnell – Consider the flow instead of the UI of your design
  • Jared Spool – Ensure delightful content regardless of the device

It’s easy to get your free lifetime access

Just submit your email by Friday, February 21, 11:59 PM PT and you’ll get access to last year’s UX Immersion talks. No tricks, no hidden payments.

Now hurry up and get your recordings from the sold out 2013 UX Immersion Mobile Conference and be sure to spread the word. The clock is ticking.

UIEtips: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship – Data and Design in Innovative Citizen Experiences

February 11th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Applications built on public data (think flight and train schedules) bring great benefits to their users. But the benefits they bring are highly dependent on how well the applications are designed. Designs will get better if the designers really watch users with the applications and use their feedback for updates.

Today’s article by Cyd Harrell is an excerpt from chapter 12 in the book Beyond Transparency. She discusses the relationship between data, design and the end user. Cyd’s workshop, Conducting Usability Research for Mobile Apps, dives into the usability research that captures these relationships in addition to other valuable information.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The past decade has brought enormous and growing benefits to ordinary citizens through applications built on public data. Any release of data offers advantages to experts, such as developers and journalists, but there is a crucial common factor in the most successful open data applications for non-experts: excellent design. In fact, open data and citizen-centered design are natural partners, especially as the government 2.0 movement turns to improving service delivery and government interaction in tandem with transparency. It’s nearly impossible to design innovative citizen experiences without data, but that data will not reach its full potential without careful choices about how to aggregate, present, and enable interaction with it.

Read the article The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship: Data and Design in Innovative Citizen Experiences.

What choices has your team made to present innovative experiences with both public and private data? Tell us about it below.

A Bias for Making

February 5th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Today’s UIEtips article looks at the communication process designers and developers follow to bring designs to life. From the waterfall approach to an Agile method, the common goal is creating, building, and executing better designs.

If you or your team struggles with communicating design objectives and process with developers and other key players, then you’ll want join us for Ben Callahan’s full-day workshop on workflow on responsive web design projects at UXIM April 7-9 in Denver, CO.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Step into the Wayback Machine, Sherman, and set the dial to 1994. You’ll find me in a conference room, explaining to a room of developers and product owners (back then, we called product owners either product managers or business analysts) how we would design their new product in less than a week. The expression on their faces would be one of OMG! This dude is insane. (Though, “OMG” or “dude” wouldn’t be common parlance for at least another half decade).

We look at paper prototyping now and we think how quaint. Yet, back in 1994, it was a radical departure from established practice. In those olden days, design wasn’t done the way it is today.

Read the article A Bias for Making.

Does your team have a bias for making? Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Designs and deliverables are haikus, not epic poems

January 29th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In today’s UIEtips, we’re publishing an excerpt from the UXmatters article “Developing UX Agility: Letting Go of Perfection” by Carissa Demetris, Chris Farnum, Joanna Markel, and Serena Rosenhan. In it, Chris Farnum talks about design deliverables and their role in an incremental approach to your design.

If you want to hear more about Chris’ thinking on design deliverables join us for our January 30 virtual seminar Choosing the Right Wireframe Strategy for Your Project.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Once you have a firm grasp of the goals for a project and the functionality you need to design, the next steps for many UX professionals are creating user stories, wireframes, and prototypes. To kick off design, we often brainstorm and sketch. Often, cutting edge Web sites and a desire to meet or exceed competitors fuel our ideas in part. While you are in brainstorm mode, it’s certainly a good idea to sketch out a full user experience, complete with all the latest bells and whistles that would delight users and impress stakeholders.

But when you begin to craft a user experience for the initial stories that you’ll deliver to your Development team for implementation, you’ll need to be a strict editor and include only the core user interface elements. Limiting scope in this way can be challenging when you are used to waterfall approach, in which you may have only one chance to document all of the user interface elements you think your design should include.

Read the article Designs and Deliverables are Haikus, Not Epic Poems.

How does your team limit project scope in the early design stages? Tell us about it below.

Three Reasons To Register for UXIM Mobile by Jan. 30

January 28th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Sure there are many reasons to attend the UX Immersion Mobile Conference in Denver, CO April 7-9. But there are three specific reasons to register by January 30.

1. We’ll guarantee you get your first choice in workshops
There’s nothing worse than narrowing down your workshop decision and then finding out there’s no space for you. We guarantee that won’t happen when you register by January 30. To help you in your decision process we have very detailed workshop descriptions and video trailers. We’ll even guarantee your choice if you decide to change it up to two weeks later.

2. You’ll save $300
The price to attend all three days of the conference goes up $300 on Feb. 12. Why not save the money now plus get the camera. You’ll still save from Jan.31-Feb.11 BUT you won’t get that awesome camera to share your designs with remote teams and record you design ideas.

3. You’ll get your very own IPEVO Point 2 View Document Camera.
We’re always looking to bring you new resources, processes, and techniques to help you become a better designer. When you register for the UXIM conference by January 30, you’ll get a great new tool – the IPEVO document camera. The camera was so popular with the UI18 attendees, we decided to give it to the UXIM attendees too.

So don’t wait any longer. You only have a few more days to guarantee your first choice in workshops, save $300, and get the IPEVO camera. Explore the conference at UXIM.co

Atlanta UXers – Get Ready for a Day of UX Awesomeness

January 28th, 2014 by Jared Spool

UX Thursday – The one and only local, full day conference designed just for user experience pros is on its way to Atlanta!

UIE and Vitamin T have joined forces to bring you a great group of Atlanta UX luminaries for a day of real-life case studies. Plus you’ll hear two fantastic keynote presentations from Adam Connor of Mad*Pow and me. This is wonderful opportunity to spend quality time exchanging ideas with participants and presenters. (The number of attendees is limited to assure you’ll get quality time with both.)

I’ll kick off the day with my keynote, “It’s a Great Time to Be A UX Designer” and then be joined by these kind (and knowledgeable) folks:

Federico Holgado, Lead UX Developer, MailChimp
Robert Hamburger, Senior User Experience Lead, CNN
Melinda Baker, Digital Experience Architect, American Cancer Society
Klemens Wengret, UX Architect, Turner Broadcasting
Josh Cothran, User Experience Designer, Georgia Tech Research Institute
Colleen Jones, Principal, Content Science
Closing keynote from Adam Connor, Design Director, Mad*Pow

But that’s not all. After hearing all these great talks, we’ve put together a social cocktail hour afterwards to discuss all the interesting ideas you heard throughout the event. All in all it’s an action packed day.

Be sure to join us on February 20 (it’s a Thursday, if you hadn’t guessed!), but don’t wait until the last minute. Our Chicago and Detroit UX Thursday shows sold out in a jiffy.

And at $99 for Early Birds through February 7, you’ve got no reason to miss it! Register now.

Get more info over at the UXT site!

UIEtips: Group Improvisation

January 23rd, 2014 by Jared Spool

Designers are constantly thinking about their process, workflow, and ways to improve both. In today’s UIEtips, we feature an article from Ben Callahan that offers an alternative approach to web design and development.

At this year’s UX Immersion Mobile Conference Ben is giving a full-day workshop on workflow with responsive web design projects. He’ll show you how to manage expectations and create stronger products faster.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In 1959, Miles Davis got a few of the most talented jazz musicians of all time together in a recording studio in Manhattan. The album they were about to record would go quadruple platinum and still be selling 5,000 copies a week in 2013. The title of that album was Kind of Blue and today it’s considered by many to be the greatest jazz record of all time.

The musicians Miles was playing with didn’t know what they were going to record when they arrived at the studio. In fact, Miles didn’t even really know. The only preparation he had was a handful of modal scales and a few melody ideas. No sheet music or chord charts. No rehearsals or overdubbing techniques. The first time the band made it through a track is the take that’s on the album. Though web design and modal jazz may seem worlds apart, there’s a lot that improvisational records like Kind of Blue have to teach us about our process-crazed industry.

Read the article Group Improvisation.

What techniques does your team use to improve collaboration? Tell us about it below.

Conducting Usability Research for Mobile Apps

January 23rd, 2014 by Jared Spool

Mobile changes everything about how we conduct usability research. With the right strategy, we can quickly understand our users’ behavior, wherever they are.

Join Cyd Harrell at the UX Immersion Mobile Conference, April 7-9 in Denver to learn the latest techniques for interviewing, gathering data, and involving your entire team.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Lead strong mobile-research evaluations
  • Envision studies even at the concept stage
  • Determine when to do (or not do) usability testing
  • Use mobile-research tools to study users’ questions
  • Recruit users for specific operating systems
  • Involve teams and stakeholders in the research

At Cyd’s workshop, Conducting Usability Research for Mobile Apps, you’ll participate in small-group and individual activities to hone your research and interview techniques. Wear comfortable walking shoes; you’ll need them for observing mobile users on-the-go. You’ll also dig into some diary studies to see what “research platform in your pocket” means.

You’ll discuss:

  • Designing a mobile-specific research plan
  • Collecting user data with mobile devices
  • Conducting user interviews on-the-go
  • Adding research — without blowing budgets

Cyd’s been doing remote research since 2007. When she was at Bolt | Peters she even developed methods to broadcast remote research sessions to observation teams. Today, as the UX lead for Code for America, Cyd regularly performs research on mobile phones from low-income residents through smartphone-happy elite populations.

In short, she’s The Expert. So don’t miss her at UXIM14.

A Tool No UX Designer Should Be Without

One of the tools Cyd uses for remote usability studies is her document camera. It’s a great way to have remote teams participate and to permanently capture the study. Get your own IPEVO document camera when you register for the UXIM Mobile Conference by January 30. Find out more about all the workshops and the IPEVO camera at UXIM.co.