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: Setting the Foundation for Meaningful Critiques—Goals, Principles, Personas and Scenarios

January 7th, 2015 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we reprint an article from Adam Connor. According to Adam, doing critiques well and constructively is no easy task. Often designers feel picked on or that the feedback doesn’t give enough direction. A key concept to remember is that “critique is a form of analysis”. It’s a discussion on what is working well and what areas need improvement. To do this right you need goals. You need to ask if what you’re critiquing is reaching the objectives of the goals you and your team created. Adam discusses how to set the foundation of a meaningful critique by using goals, principles, personas, and scenarios.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

And this is where goals, principles, personas and scenarios come into play. Don’t look at them as just deliverables in a statement of work, I know many people often do. Look at them as a level of understanding. By providing your teammates or critics with this information you can set a foundation on which good dialogue can be built.

Read the article: Setting the Foundation for Meaningful Critiques – Goals, Principles, Personas and Scenarios

How do you ensure that your critiques are constructive? Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Explore These 7 Great Podcasts from 2014

January 2nd, 2015 by Jared Spool

Here, for your listening pleasure, are a few of our favorite podcasts from 2014 in no particular order.

Creating Responsive Interfaces

Brad Frost photoAs responsive web design becomes common practice, making sure these templates work across every imaginable screen and device is trickier. Brad Frost shares this frustration and introduces Atomic Design as a solution. Borrowing from the metaphor of atoms making up molecules, molecules making up organism and so forth, Brad thinks responsive design needs to be approached deeper than at the page level.

Listen to the podcast

Responsive Web Design Workflow

Stephen Hay photoStephen Hay outlines how his workflow has changed in the face of new design processes. He believes that taking a content first approach is instrumental to working with fluid designs. This allows you to mold the design around the content instead of trying to fit the content into a fixed design.

Listen to the podcast

Wireframing Strategies

Chris Farnum photoThe notion that “wireframes are dead” has been coming up every so often over the past few years. In truth, wireframes are still a valuable way for teams to communicate. Chris explains what wireframes actually are and what they’re used for.
Listen to the podcast

Mobile as a Medium

Luke Wroblewski photoThere’s no better person to talk about the trends and direction of mobile than Luke Wroblewski. He’s consistently been at the forefront of the mobile design discussion. Through his books and his various talks, he’s advocated a mobile first approach, focusing on what is absolutely necessary and letting that inform the desktop design.

Listen to the podcast

Responsive Web Design with Mobile in Mind

Jason Grigsby photoJason Grigsby, of Cloud Four, believes that there are considerations that responsive design alone doesn’t address. The total experience of your site is more than just what it looks like. Simply using media queries to optimize your site’s design for different page widths is not a viable solution. Page weights, image sizes, and network speeds all need to be factored into the equation.

Listen to the podcast

Using Taxonomy to Manage Content Sprawl

Stephanie Lemieux photoUltimately, your content is the reason users visit your site. Taxonomy can build a structure underneath that content, making it much more dynamic. Stephanie Lemieux discusses her approach to bake taxonomy into your content model and information architecture.
Listen to the podcast

Hypothesis-based Design within Lean UX

Josh Seiden photoJosh Seiden co-wrote the Lean UX book with Jeff Gothelf. In his work, Josh arrives at hypotheses by assembling everything the team knows about a project. Josh explains that by listing out all of your assumptions you can see which will have the biggest impact if you’re incorrect. This helps shape the hypothesis and the direction for the project.

Listen to the podcast

 

Share Your Thoughts with Us

What were your favorite podcasts in 2014? Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Here Are Eight of Our Favorite Articles from 2014

December 23rd, 2014 by Jared Spool

Here Are Eight of Our Favorite Articles from 2014

Over the past year we published more than 50 articles. Here are 8 of our favorites in no particular order:

Content Marketing Sustains the Conversation

Ever wondered why no one knows the true business value of your content? That’s where content marketing comes into play, and Ahava Leibtag knows which techniques you can use to make it work across organizational silos.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Let’s address something important about content marketing. It isn’t really new. Communications professionals have been practicing some form of it for years, been doing it for years, using different parts of it, but never calling it content marketing (some people call it custom publishing, corporate journalism, brand journalism, branded media, brand content and inbound marketing).

Read the article Content Marketing Sustains the Conversation

 

Responsive Design for Apps

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.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Any attempt to draw a line around a particular device class has as much permanence as a literal line in the sand. Pause for a moment and the line blurs. Look away and it will be gone.

Read the article Responsive Design for Apps

 

Content and Design Are Inseparable Work Partners

Jared Spool explores why content and design should be done hand-in-hand.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

We didn’t see the checkout process in that session. Later, during the session debriefing with the team, I asked if there was a refund policy. “Yup.” Why didn’t Search find it? Long pause. Finally, “because Search is for content and the refund policy isn’t content.

Read the article Content and Design Are Inseparable Work Partners

 

Customizing Help and Tips by Input Type

Luke Wroblewski discusses customizing inline help for today’s multi-device web.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

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

 

Design’s Fully-Baked Deliverables and Half-Baked Artifacts

Jared Spool discusses two states of the design process: artifacts and deliverables.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The distinction between artifacts and deliverables is very important, yet something we never find ourselves discussing, just like the multiple states of cakes. If we create one when we think we’re creating the other, it will lead to confusion that wastes time and convolutes the team’s efforts. We need to understand how they work and what makes each one valuable.

Read the article Design’s Fully-Baked Deliverables and Half-Baked Artifacts

 

Lean Content

Steph Hay looks at content through the lean lens.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Let’s address something important about content marketing. It isn’t really new. Communications professionals have been practicing some form of it for years, been doing it for years, using different parts of it, but never calling it content marketing (some people call it custom publishing, corporate journalism, brand journalism, branded media, brand content and inbound marketing).

Read the article Lean Content

 

UX Strategy Blueprint

Jim Kalbach explains how to use the UX Strategy Blueprint.

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

 

Beyond the UX Tipping Point

Jared Spool reveals 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

 

Share Your Thoughts with Us

What was your biggest UX challenge in 2014? Tell us about it below.

UIEtips: Starting Your User Research

December 17th, 2014 by Jared Spool

This week’s Tips is a reprint of my article Starting Your User ResearchI share ideas on how to start your own user research program and why there’s no reason to wait.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Once you decide to go down that road, the first thing you’ll realize is how rich your choices are of research methods. Usability audits, heuristic evaluations, usability testing, field research – which one do you choose first? Which are the most effective?

Read the article: Starting Your User Research.

What does your user research program look like?  Leave us a note below.

Spend an hour with me when you register for a UIE conference by 12/31/14

December 15th, 2014 by Jared Spool

Partake in an intimate UX roundtable call with me when you register for a UIE conference

Use your remaining 2014 training funds to save your spot at the lowest price of $1,475 for either the UX Immersion Mobile or User Interface 20 Conferences.

Register for UXIM 2015 or UI20 by December 31 and you’ll spend an hour with me on a UX roundtable call. Don’t miss this chance to ask me your most burning UX questions (or even your non-burning non-UX questions).

Chris Risdon

Jonathon Colman

UX Mobile Immersion Conference

April 13-15, 2015

Salt Lake City, UT

 

Intensive workshops and talks focusing on what it takes to make your designs work on all mobile devices.

Topics include

  • Atomic Design
  • Designing for native apps
  • Responsive design
  • Experiencing mapping
  • Adaptive design
  • Responsive workflow

UXIM Conference was by far the best conference I have ever been to. Focusing on UX for mobile, it touched on everything from workflow, content and prototyping to coding, design and architecture.

Kristi B. – UXIM 2014 attendee

Save your spot at UXIM for $1,475

User Interface 20 Conference

November 2-4, 2015

Boston, MA

 

UIE’s flagship conference, now in its 20th year, includes two full days of workshops and one day of talks on a broad range of UX topics.

Past topics include

  • Scenarios
  • Microinteractions
  • Content Strategy
  • Visual Design
  • Typography
  • Usability Testing

This was a stellar conference. It reinvigorated me. Mad props to the presenters. I learned an incredible amount of stuff, socialized, ate well and loved all of it.

 

Mackenzie R. – UI19 attendee

Save your spot at UI20 for $1,475

 

I’m looking forward to talking with you on our UX roundtable call.

UIEtips: Critique: The Secret to Growing Your UX Team Skills

December 10th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we offer an original article. In it, I introduce critique as a growth tool for UX teams.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Regular critique, whether formal or ad-hoc, ramps up team members’ skills quickly. By changing up what the focus of learning is for each session, the team ensures that everyone’s skills become more well rounded.

Read the article: The Secret to Growing Your UX Team Skills.

How does your team conduct critique sessions? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: A Definition of Content Strategy

December 3rd, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips article, Facebook’s Jonathon Colman offers his definition for content strategy. With the help of other content strategy experts—Brain Traffic’s Kristina Halvorson and Rachel Lovinger from Razorfish—he makes the case that content strategy is part of a triumvirate of disciplines that, when they work together, build better experiences for everyone.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Content strategists use language, data, and systems to build better experiences for people than either IAs or designers can working by themselves. Ideally, all three disciplines work together as part of a user experience team that puts the Why before the How.

Read the article: A Definition of Content Strategy.

Do you consider yourself to be a content strategist? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Un-Sucking the Touchpoint

November 18th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips article, Chris Risdon defines and establishes criteria for touchpoints, in effect, unsucking the touchpoint.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It became clear that a touchpoint is a moment in time. I want to design to support that moment in time. More specifically, a touchpoint is meeting that need through delivering on the company’s value proposition in that time and place.

Read the article: Un-Sucking the Touchpoint.

How does Chris’ definition relate to your understanding of the touchpoint? Leave us a note below.

UIEtips: Beyond the UX Tipping Point

November 12th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we offer an original article. 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: Smart Watches, Wearables, and That Nasty Data Rash – Part 2

November 5th, 2014 by Jared Spool

In this week’s UIEtips, we’re reprinting part two of an article from Josh Clark, Smart Watches, Wearables, and That Nasty Data Rash. You can read part 1 here. In the article, Josh takes his insight on mobile design to the world of wearables. He makes an argument that through design, we can avoid information poisoning and prevent the risk of the data wearing us rather than us wearing the data.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

These fears—the staples of every dystopian sci-fi movie—are about loss of control. They rail against a data environment so polluted that we no longer know how our personal information will be used or how machines might impose themselves on us..

What concerns do you have about the future of wearable technology? Leave us a note below.