Jared M. Spool

Jared SpoolJared M. Spool is the founder of User Interface Engineering and a co-founder of Center Centre.

If you’ve ever seen Jared speak about user experience design, you know that he’s probably the most effective and knowledgeable communicator on the subject today. He’s been working in the field of usability and experience design since 1978, before the term “usability” was ever associated with computers.

He is also the conference chair and keynote speaker at the annual UI Conference and UX Immersion Conference, and manages to squeeze in a fair amount of writing time. He is author of the book Web Usability: A Designer’s Guide and co-author of Web Anatomy: Interaction Design Frameworks that Work. You can find his writing at uie.com and follow his adventures on the twitters at @jmspool.

Jared's posts:

The KJ-Technique: A Group Process for Establishing Priorities

October 19th, 2016 by Jared Spool

This week, we revisit my article on using the KJ Method to help groups establish priorities.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In design, our resources are limited. Priorities become a necessity. We need to ensure we are working on the most important parts of the problem. How do we assess what is most important?

For this, we’ve turned to a group consensus technique we’ve been using for years, called a KJ-Method (also sometimes referred to as an “affinity diagram”). The KJ-Method, named for its inventor, Jiro Kawakita (the Japanese put their last names first), allows groups to quickly reach a consensus on priorities of subjective, qualitative data.

Read the article: The KJ-Technique: A Group Process for Establishing Priorities

How do you reach consensus with your teams? Let us know below.

Getting The Most Out Of Subject Matter Experts

October 12th, 2016 by Jared Spool

This week I discuss ways to more effectively utilize Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in design teams.

Here’s an excerpt from the  article:

Subject Matter Experts (also known as SMEs) can deliver great insight into how users work and what designs would be best for them. Unfortunately, we often don’t use them to their fullest.

While we bring SMEs into our project team because of their expertise, it’s that expertise that creates a problem. Though they have deep knowledge and expertise, they don’t know everything there is to know about every user and all of their needs. Their expertise only covers the experience they had when they did that job.

Get the most out of your user research. Learn the latest techniques from Cyd Harrell in her full-day UI21 workshop, Low Cost Guerilla User Research, in Boston on October 31. See more details here.

Read the article: Getting The Most Out Of Subject Matter Experts

How do you use SMEs on your teams? Tell us about it below.

Come to Boston and Change the Way You Design Forever. ​

October 11th, 2016 by Jared Spool

Experience New UX Practices, Backed up by the Latest Theories in Effective Design

A conference tailored to raise your design practice to new heights. Gain the super powers to tackle today’s most challenging design problems. Full-day workshops reveal the nuance and insight necessary to deliver great designs.

Choose from these full-day workshops:

Hear their wisdom and transform what you build and how you’ll build it. The presentations will push you beyond your old practices, propelling you down the road to mastering your design craft.

Explore the Conference

UIE Article: Testing in the Wild, Seizing Opportunity

October 5th, 2016 by Jared Spool

This week, we revisit Dana Chisnell’s article on the benefits of conducting quick and informal usability testing.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

When I say “usability test,” you might think of something that looks like a psych experiment, without the electrodes (although I’m sure those are coming as teams think that measuring biometrics will help them understand users’ experiences). Anyway, you probably visualize a lab of some kind, with a user in one room and a researcher in another, watching either through a glass or a monitor.

It can be like that, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, I’d argue that for early designs it shouldn’t be like that at all. Instead, usability testing should be done wherever and whenever users normally do the tasks they’re trying to do with a design.

Read the article: Testing in the Wild, Seizing Opportunity

How do you incorporate quick and informal usability testing? Let us know below.

Your Tribe Awaits at UI21 in Boston

September 29th, 2016 by Jared Spool

 At the UI21 Conference October 31 – November 2 in Boston, you get intensive, game-changing material that will challenge how you think about and practice design.

Use coupon code UICONF to save $300 off your full conference registration which includes:

  • Your choice of two daylong workshops and/or a day of featured talks
  • One month of complimentary access to UIE’s All You Can Learn that starts right when you register
  • All the workshop materials and presentations
  • Video recordings of all the featured talks
  • Time with the UI21 speakers to ask your questions
  • New skills to move your UX Design initiatives forward

Get More Details

A Typical UX Team of One Job Description

September 21st, 2016 by Jared Spool

This week, we revisit Leah Buley’s book, The User Experience Team of One – A Research and Design Survival Guide.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

If you happen to be in the job market, it can be helpful to know how to spot a UX team-of-one situation. Few UX jobs are advertised as a team-of-one gig, but there are usually telltale signs that give them away. This job description shows an employer who is looking for someone who can drastically improve the quality of the user experience. The product will be “elegant,” reduced to the “bare essentials,” and “beautiful.” People may not say it directly, but there’s usually an expectation that having someone who will focus on UX will result in changes to the product that will immediately wow everyone. This can be a tricky expectation to manage, since design improvements often happen gradually, over time. The design methods in Chapter 7 show you how you can improve the quality of the product and bring people along with you in the process.

Read the article: A Typical UX Team of One Job Description

Leah presents Strategic Storytelling at the September 22 UX Virtual Symposium: Storytelling in Design.

How have you identified Team of One jobs? Let us know below.

UIE Article: Building Products with Story

September 14th, 2016 by Jared Spool

This week, we present an excerpt from Donna Lichaw’s book, The User’s Journey, published by Rosenfeld Media on using story as a framework to create heroes for your product.

Here’s an taste of what we serve up this week:

Story is not only a tool your brain uses to understand what you see, it’s a tool your brain uses to understand what you experience. In other words, the same brain function that you use to understand what you see in a photograph is the same brain function you would use if you were one of those grandparents using FaceTime. Life is a story. And in that story, you are the hero.

What’s great about story and its underlying structure is that it provides you with a framework—a formula, if you will—for turning your customers into heroes. Plot points, high points, and all. Story is one of the oldest and most powerful tools you have to create heroes. And as I’ve seen and will show you in this book, what works for books and movies will work for your customers, too.

Read the article: Building Products with Story

How do you use storytelling as a tool? Tell us about it below.

Keep Some Cash When You Register Now

September 12th, 2016 by Jared Spool

The 9/16 Rate Increase is Coming Fast. Register Today and Save Your Money

Register today for the User Interface 21 Conference, October 31 – November 2, 2016, in Boston. Don’t wait because the lowest rate of $1,975 disappears on Friday, September 16.

Choose from these full-day workshops:

Save your spot, guarantee your workshops, and get the lowest price when you sign up before September 16.

Register Now

UIE Article: Measure Customer Experience Design And Make It Accountable

September 7th, 2016 by Jared Spool

This week, we have an article from Jeffrey Eisenberg on making buyer legends measurable and accountable.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Buyer Legends are measurable and accountable by design. That is one of the important elements that distinguish Buyer Legends from any other business-storytelling and customer experience methodologies. A Buyer Legend is not a feel good story; it’s about business, and if your story doesn’t improve on your business goals, then what is the point?

Your Buyer Legend should describe in significant detail what actions you expect your customer to take, many of which are measurable. Pages viewed, transactions, subscriptions, store visits, phone calls, conversions to lead, and even social media engagement are all measurable.

Read the article: Measure Customer Experience Design And Make It Accountable

How do you measure customer experience design? Tell us about it below.

UIE Article: Teaching UX Designers to Always Be Learning

September 1st, 2016 by Jared Spool

This week, I examine the ways UX designers develop their craft and the importance of self-learning.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Conventional educational programs use a Sage on the Stage approach, where a smart person stands in front of a classroom pouring facts and raw knowledge into students’ brains. Despite considerable evidence that this approach rarely works, schools still try to teach new skills this way. This is part of the reason why fresh graduates we hire aren’t prepared for the work ahead of them.

People learn best when they take charge of their education. Some people learn well by reading a comprehensive book. For others, books don’t work at all, but they learn when they hear someone explain the concepts and techniques. Everyone has their own way of learning. A good school needs to adapt its learning options for each individual student.

Read the article: Teaching UX Designers to Always Be Learning

How do you learn best? Tell us about it below.