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:

UX Metrics: Identify Trackable Footprints and Avoid the Woozles

December 15th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I discusses how to capture key UX metrics.

Here’s an excerpt for you:

Teams often start with the metrics that come out of the box. Tools like Google Analytics come with metrics that have important sounding names, like Unique Visitors, Bounce Rate, and Time on Page. However, most teams quickly realize these metrics don’t actually track anything that’s meaningful to the users’ experience.

Sure, the Bounce Rate, which supposes to measure whether someone leaves the site immediately or stays, sounds like something important about how people interact with design. (I say ‘supposes to measure’ because it only does so if the site has been correctly instrumented and that, it turns out, rarely happens.) Did the person who left the site do so because they were confused and gave up? Or was it because the site did exactly what it was supposed to and they were happily moving along in their adventure?

A high Bounce Rate might be ‘bad’ (and warrant being lowered) or the same rate might be ‘good’ (and warrant doing more of the same). We can’t tell which from this number.

Bounce rate isn’t the only culprit in the out-of-the-box metrics. All of them are.

Read the article: UX Metrics: Identify Trackable Footprints and Avoid the Woozles

How does your team utilize UX metrics?  Share your thoughts with us below.

Promise, Vision, Scenario, and User Stories

December 1st, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I discuss how to to deliver the right promises to your users.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

People like to share their stories with me. Lately, many of these stories have been about their experiences on recent United Airlines flights. I’ve become a bit of a magnet for United Airlines stories.

Most of these stories are about how the airline failed them in some way. In their minds, they weren’t asking for much.

They wanted their flight to go exactly as the airline had promised. Yet, for whatever reason, it had gone awry. And then, due to issues that seem to be endemic inside the airline, it got worse. The outcome was frustration and disappointment.

Yet sometimes the stories have a happy ending. Frequently these stories start with something that went wrong, but then a helpful employee takes the reins and goes above and beyond. The problem isn’t just resolved, the employee treats the passengers great, and everything ends well.

These stories are about promises. Promises broken and promises exceeded.

Read the article: Promise, Vision, Scenario, and User Stories

Does your team have a different method to keep up with your users needs?  Share your thoughts with us below.

Content-First Design

November 16th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article Steph Hay discusses how content can help to positively influence design.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

I never dreamed practicing content-first design and talking about it at a couple conferences would lead me to work for a bank. Especially one I knew nothing about. But the idea of creating jobs for people who get that content is product design, well that was too dang good to pass up. So now we’re growing a niche team of UX content strategists, sort of like our equivalent of the video game industry’s story designer.

Part of our process is working directly with designers and product managers to design conversations in plain text. We call them content prototypes, and they take many forms depending on the team and project.

Read the article: Content-First Design

How does content affect design on your team?  Share your thoughts with us below.

The Power of Experience Mapping

November 11th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s I discuss how experience mapping can help provide useful feedback about your users problems.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Since the earliest times, humankind has used maps to communicate. Maps show where we are and where we want to be. They communicate the relationships between the elements they contain.

In design, we map experiences. These maps take different forms. Customer journey maps show how our users progress through our design, often highlighting the frustrating moments alongside the delightful ones. Service blueprints describe how the organization interfaces with the customer, often revealing the invisible steps that happen for every action a customer takes. Empathy maps explore what our customers see, think, say, and feel, as they interact with our designs. And system relationship maps describe how the underlying parts of the system interact with each other to produce the users’ total experience.

Read the article: The Power of Experience Mapping

Do you use a different method to diagnose your users issues?  Share your thoughts with us below.

The Back Up Question: Defining a Project’s ‘Good Enough’

November 3rd, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I discuss the challenges stakeholder’s users face and how to find answers to those issues.

Here’s an excerpt from the  article:

It would be great if we didn’t have to ask the question. If our stakeholders and clients showed up at our door with a clear description of the problem, we could go from there. Collaboratively, we could work up possible solutions and whittle them down until we know exactly what project we needed to execute. But that doesn’t happen.

I think we can blame the service workers of the world—plumbers, mechanics, restaurants—for training our colleagues to find a solution before knocking on our door. You tell a plumber what you think needs fixing. You tell the waiter what you want for dinner. If they understood the problem we wanted addressed, they might have a better solution than what we’re asking for.

Read the article: The Back Up Question: Defining a Project’s ‘Good Enough’

Build scalable design systems

November 2nd, 2017 by Jared Spool

Design Systems are critical tools for organizations to use to create a cohesive brand experience across products, devices, and platforms. They also allow teams to work more efficiently and quickly. However, the structure and maintenance of the Design System you create will determine its ultimate success.

Your Design System should be a living system that is relevant, flexible, and allows growth over time, and for that to happen, you need to have busy teams across the organization invested in its success. How do you do that?

As a starting point, Design Systems need to have a champion in management who gets it. Who understands the long-term value of creating a design system, and what it takes to support and sustain it. More companies, like Google and Airbnb, are releasing their design systems and pushing their business further in innovating ways.

A centralized team to manage your design system is a useful first step, but will fall short of success because of a lack of connection to other teams working independently. If teams aren’t invested in the success of the system, it will fail.

In addition to a centralized approach to maintaining a system, design leaders across product teams need to be identified and empowered to maintain the integrity and relevancy of the system. This federated approach in combination with a centralized group who maintains the systems creates a foundation for lasting success.

The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” with Design Sprints – Part 2: Adapting The Sprint Model

October 27th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article Kathleen Barrett continues to examine the ACT, inc. team and how to overcome doubts regarding design sprints using planning and communication.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Design sprints were a revelatory experience for the team at ACT. They opened up the business to tools and a process for understanding their audience better, and exploring and brainstorming new ideas. They could think big and fail safely in a low-risk environment, and every member of the team had a voice and a hand in the process.

Preparing for sprints is in many ways as critical as running them. Sprint leaders should spend time designing a process that fits their culture. They also need to communicate the process to teams before they begin to alleviate any fears or misunderstanding. Sprints often gather people in a room who don’t have a history or experience talking to one another, or sharing their opinions, and it can make teams uncomfortable.

Read the article: The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” with Design Sprints – Part 2: Adapting The Sprint Model

Do you have concerns about implementing design sprints?  Share your thoughts with us below.

Use Scenarios to Support Design Decisions at the Pixel Level

October 26th, 2017 by Jared Spool

What are user scenarios and why are the useful? To begin, they are based on real data, a firm understanding of your customers and their habits. With a scenario, we take that data and inject it with life. We can imagine, given a specific set of criteria that is based on what we know about our customers, how they might behave in a situation with our products.

Scenarios can help teams reach the brass ring of team alignment. Teams visualize potential problems better by using them. And more importantly, scenarios help product managers understand product requirements, designers to influence those requirements, and engineers to get a very clear sense of what the requirements are aiming to do.

Scenarios minimize gray areas where teams can fall into confusion about what the product is, how the customer may respond, and what the product goals are.

These days alignment doesn’t extend to just teams, but to all departments, offline and online, across an organizational that touches upon the user’s experience. With scenarios, we can use the power of story to imagine our customer’s future experience with our products, illuminate our intentions, and brings groups together on a shared vision.

The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” With Design Sprints – Part 1

October 20th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article Kathleen Barrett examines the ACT, inc. team, and discusses how to use design sprints to explore innovative concepts and diversify products.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Consensus, says Richard Banfield, CEO of Fresh Tilled Soil, is often conflated with democratic vote. “The funny thing is consensus doesn’t improve the quality of the decisions. It allows you to improve the quality of the inputs but not the outputs. We are good at asking for opinions to the point where it stymies our ability to make decisions.” Richard’s company worked with ACT early on to demonstrate how design sprints could help the organization explore new product ideas and solve problems.

Adrienne and her team trained with Fresh Tilled Soil, but before they began, they had to develop a process, a common language, for internal teams to use. Product managers had been using different criteria for evaluating ideas.

The product innovation team at ACT chose a “see one, do one, teach one” approach to design sprints. The team wanted to understand how the model worked first before they could apply it to a problem they wanted to solve. The first step for ACT was a training exercise with Fresh Tilled Soil, before they eventually moved toward adopting sprints on their own.

Read the article: The Power of “See One, Do One, Teach One” With Design Sprints – Part 1

 

Design Sprints: An Ignition System for Teams

October 13th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I talk about the importance of design sprints.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In many projects, people ramp up slowly, finishing up their old obligations before starting. Without having everyone in the same room and focused, the project takes forever to get to speed.

With a design sprint, everyone starts at the same time with this focused activity on the new project. Even if, the following week, they have to return to their previous project to tie up loose ends, the sprint has given the team this focused burst to start with.

Read the article: Design Sprints: An Ignition System for Innovation Project Teams