When “I Don’t Know” Is The Most Powerful Thing You Can Say

Jared Spool

September 21st, 2017

Inject Innovative Techniques into Your Design Process

Design Sprints have, perhaps, a less publicized but high value outcome, in addition to providing an effective model to rapidly test and prototype products. Sprints afford an opportunity to level the playing field of ideas.

At the start of a sprint, all ideas are put forth to be tested and validated, whether they come from the highest paid executive in the room to the most junior team members. It’s okay in a sprint to say “I Don’t Know,” because the team is free to explore, test, and validate the assumptions they have at the start.

Free yourself and teams from the expectation—and limitations—of certitude. Understand the problems you are trying to solve and for whom you are solving them with design sprints.

Come to UI22 to jump-start team collaboration to gain a competitive advantage.

Heads Up: More Than Half of UI22’s Tickets Are Already Gone

Jared Spool

September 19th, 2017

The tools you need to elevate what you do as a designer just dropped $200


The price​ for this amazing event increased last week​ but not for you. Many UX professionals ​already registered at the lower price last week and we think​ you should too​.

Why? Great question. The agenda is pretty awesome. The food is incredible. There are abundant chances to meet new and interesting people. I will grab your attention on Tuesday with a captivating keynote. And let’s not forget the amazing full day workshops that will challenge you to change the way you practice design:

There’s never been a better time to be a designer so don’t miss your chance to save a bunch of money and improve the UX design skills you need to succeed.

What are you waiting for? Register ​through this Sunday​ with coupon code FALL2017​ to save $200.​

Register Now And Save $200

Service Design Thinking

Jared Spool

September 15th, 2017

This week were are taking a look back at Marc Stickdorn’s article on Service Design Thinking. Come see Marc present his workshop Service Design: Creating Delightful Cross-Channel Experiences at this year’s UI22.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Service Design or Design Thinking is often linked with terms, such as innovation (process), change, and improvement. How can Service Design Thinking be integrated in an organization as a mean of change?

Service Design became more and more popular over the last years. Service Design refers to innovating both tangible products and services and is nowadays used, to connect people and technologies across multiple channels. The boundaries between physical products and services are blurring and mostly one doesn’t exist without the other anyway. We need to think in systems and understand the ecosystem in which services and physical products operate.

Read the article: Service Design Thinking

Have you applied Service Design Thinking in your organization? Tell us about it below.

207 Reasons to Register This Week for UI22

Jared Spool

September 11th, 2017


This is your last chance to save some money when you register at the lowest rate for the User Interface 22 Conference in Boston, MA, November 13 – 15. Aside from saving $200, here are seven other reasons to register through Saturday, September 16:

  • Two Day-long Workshops: Choose two fantastic interactive workshops to help you tackle the complex problems around service design, storytelling, and building design systems to name a few.
  • One Day of Featured Talks: Hear the latest ideas and techniques around UX from our team of experts plus a new keynote from me.
  • Complete Conference Materials: You’ll get PDFs for every session and workshop.
  • Exclusive Slack Team: You’ll get an invitation to join the Slack team dedicated to UI22, to connect with speakers and other attendees.
  • 30 Days of Premium Access to UIE’s All You Can Learn Library: Start your UX learning before you even get to UI22. You’ll have access to over 315 virtual seminars and conference recordings.
  • Recordings of the Featured Talks: Post conference you’ll have access to all the Featured Talks for you and your team as part of your All You Can Learn Library access.
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Groups, and Receptions with your peers: Plenty to eat and drink, including breakfast every day. While you eat, meet UX practitioners who, just like yourself, face the same challenges and are discovering new solutions.

What are you waiting for? Register now to save $200. After this Saturday the price increases by hundreds of dollars.

I’m excited to see you in Boston.


Emergent Principles: A Rebel Leader’s Secret to Better Team Design Decisions

Jared Spool

September 8th, 2017

In this week’s article, I discuss how “emergent principles” can become tools for teams to make tough design decisions.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

…The principles came about as the team was learning, often deep in the middle of their projects. The list of principles was growing and the teams were embracing each one.

These particular principles emerged. They usually emerged from user research. The team would see patterns of broken things in the existing design. At that moment, a team member would propose they create a new principle to guide their future design work.

Teams latch onto emergent principles like these. They keep bringing them up in design discussions. They frequently have debates, where they argue about the semantics of whether something is or isn’t covered by the principles. Is that a knob or another type of control? Should we give the user an option in this case?

These debates are healthy, as they help the team understand the subtleties and nuance in their designs. Their new understanding of these subtleties helps them solve the real user problems they observed. The principles make it easy to see and agree on what needs to be different in the design.

Read the article: Emergent Principles: A Rebel Leader’s Secret to Better Team Design Decisions

Design principles are best used in conjunction with a solid design system. At UI22, Nathan Curtis will give a full-day masterclass on Building Scalable Design Systems. In this hands-on workshop, you’ll learn all the essential steps to building a design system that you can deploy across your organization. Get in-depth details on this fantastic workshop.

Are you giving teams the tools they need to deliver great designs every time? Tell us about it below.

Reduce Chaos through Structure and Processes

Jared Spool

September 7th, 2017

Reduce Chaos through Structure and Processes

A living design system will save your business money and allow your team to work more productively and cohesively across business units.

To sustain your design system, teams need to be invested in its creation and maintenance, and to be communicating and sharing their work across the products and experiences that everyone is building and supporting.

What strategies can you use to maintain those lines of communication across teams? Nathan Curtis recommends that regular meetings can be useful and productive, if they are structured well.

  • Schedule recurring meetings
  • Invite designers and leaders across the organization to share concepts
  • Prep speakers at those meetings on system-relevant challenges
  • Avoid tangents in the meeting that distract from the topic and purpose
  • Encourage designers to take what they’ve learned back to their teams

Make sure your meetings are relaxed, informal, and allow presenters to discuss their work and get substantive feedback from the group on how to maintain that consistent look and feel your system identifies and maintains.

Create Efficiency and Increase Team Productivity

Create a Cohesive Customer Experience

Jared Spool

September 5th, 2017

Designing the Customer Experience

Our understanding of customers—their behaviors and needs—has grown more sophisticated, because the experiences we design demand it. Our customers routinely dip in and out of contact with our products, both offline and online. They reach across channels to contact us, to share their experiences. They fall short of converting at points along their journey. What triggers these behaviors and why? It is in those unexpected moments that we fail the customer. As designers and digital professionals, we work as detectives, sifting through data, both qualitative and quantitative, to understand, define, and create the ideal experience.

Whatever you want to call your process, whether it is design thinking, service design, customer experience design, or Lord Buckethead Supreme Intergalactic Design, your task is to explore, prototype, and test assumptions, communicate across organizational silos, and reach agreement over what that ideal experience is.

Create A Cohesive Customer Experience

Making Sense of Any Mess

Jared Spool

August 31st, 2017

Making Sense of Any Mess

We’ve seen the following words sprouting across interfaces before, sometimes across a single website: Become a Member! Partner With Us! Join Us! Get Involved! Volunteer! Make a Gift! Donate!

What is the distinction between a member and a partner, getting involved and volunteering, gifting and donating? It’s not uncommon for businesses to approach language organically, often using different words to mean the same thing.

Duplicative language can bloom easily within an organization across marketing materials, customer service, organizational silos, and eventually into the website’s information architecture. It goes without saying that lack of clarity in language is confusing to customers.

Shout out to the information architects out there, piecing through all that language.

Information architects need to get into semantic discussions with stakeholders and teams, to bring them together to find a shared vocabulary to describe what they do. The goal is for customers to know exactly what a business means when it says something. It’s easier said than done, but Abby Covert has tips on how to facilitate those messy discussions collaboratively and effectively.

Stop Confusion and End Frustration

Empathy as a Service: Applying Service Design to the Homelessness Issue

Jared Spool

August 28th, 2017

Empathy as a Service: Applying Service Design to the Homelessness Issue

Empathy. It’s an unavoidable word in the world of user experience design. Too often it is applied to designs in too narrow a fashion. Your empathy should come from the problem your design is solving, not measured in the level of frustration or delight experienced with your design.

Ariel Kennan is the Director of Design and Product at the New York City Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. She has been working on the HOME-STAT initiative which is an effort of the City of New York to properly provide services to the city’s homeless population.

In this podcast, Ariel shares her story and is joined by Marc Stickdorn who offers his insights on how service design can be done on such a massive scale. Marc is the CEO and co-founder of More Than Metrics and author of the book Service Design Thinking. He will also be teaching a daylong workshop at the UI22 conference in Boston this November 13–15.

Fully Understand the Issues to Solve

Goal Challenges and Tool Challenges

Jared Spool

August 25th, 2017

In today’s article, I discuss how to design for two types of challenges.  If users are distracted by controlling the interface, they can’t pay attention to the thing they came to do.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Two Dots’ designers also needed to put in tools to control the play of the game, such as changing levels, turning off the sound or music, and adjusting colors for color blind players. These tools must be easy to find and use, not a challenge like the game play itself.

Game designers are experts at ensuring goal challenges remain in the users’ focus, while ensuring that tool challenges are minimized or eliminated. By studying how the best game designers have made these trade-offs, we can learn how to improve the productivity tools we’re designing.

Read the article Goal Challenges and Tool Challenges

What are your thoughts on goal and tool challenges? Tell us about it below.