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:

Replacing “Requirements Gathering” with Something That Works

June 16th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I discuss the process of gathering requirements to inform the project’s design.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

You’ve seen the box on the project schedule a hundred times. It always has the same label: “Gather Requirements”. And it’s always remarkably short — scheduled for just a day or two (or sometimes less!).

When I ask the project manager what this step involves, they inevitably tell me they’ll interview the major stakeholders and gather up the requirements that emerge. It’s going into the fields and picking berries needed for the project.

How do these major stakeholders know these requirements? Well, they just do. They’ve been thinking about it for a while (except for the ones who haven’t). They’ve talked to customers (except for most of them, who never talk to customers). They’ve talked to the sales people and the technical folks and the business modeling folks, who told them exactly what’s needed to make this product successful (but how do those folks know?).

Read the article: Replacing “Requirements Gathering” with Something That Works

How have you dealt with requirements gathering? Let us know below.

Lead Your Organization Into The Age of Experience

June 7th, 2017 by Jared Spool

Lead Your Organization Into The Age of Experience

UI22 is 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:

Marc StickdornMarc Stickdorn

Service Design: Creating Delightful Cross-Channel Experiences

Abby CovertAbby Covert

Heavy-Duty Information Organization Techniques for Seriously Messy Designs

Whitney QuesenberyWhitney Quesenbery

Storytelling for User Experience

Kim GoodwinKim Goodwin

Using Scenarios to Solve Problems

Nathan CurtisNathan Curtis

Building Scalable Design Systems

Steph HaySteph Hay

Content-First UX Design: A Lean Approach

Dan MallDan Mall

Design Workflow for a Multi-Device World

Richard BanfieldRichard Banfield

Leading Design Sprints to Jumpstart Team Collaboration

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

Change The Way You Design

What is Good Product Strategy?

June 2nd, 2017 by Jared Spool

This week’s article is on the topic of product strategy by Melissa Perri, where she discusses how product initiatives can solve your customer’s problems and reach your business objectives.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Most companies fall into the trap of thinking about Product Strategy as a plan to build certain features and capabilities. We often say our Product Strategy are things like:

  • “To create a platform that allows music producers to upload and share their music.”
  • “To create a backend system that will allow the sales team to manage their leads.”
  • “To create a front of the funnel website that markets to our target users and converts them.”

This isn’t a strategy, this is a plan. The problem is that when we treat a product strategy like a plan, it will almost always fail. Plans do not account for uncertainty or change. They give us a false sense of security. “If we just follow the plan, we’ll succeed!” Unfortunately, there is no guarantee of success here. (I wish there was, our jobs would be SO much easier!)

Read the article: What is Good Product Strategy?

What is good product strategy to you? Please comment below.

New Technologies to Consider for Interaction

May 26th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article we reprint an excerpt from Christopher Noessel’s “Designing Agentive Tehcnology” on unlocking agentive technology’s massive potential for design.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

One of the fun things we get to consider when dealing with artificial intelligence is that in order to enable it to carry out its seeing, thinking, and doing duties, we must include cutting-edge technologies in the system. Trying to list these authoritatively is something of a fool’s errand, because by the time the book is published, some will have already fallen out of use or become unremarkable, and there will be some new ones to consider. Also, I wouldn’t pretend to have collected a complete list. But by understanding them in terms of seeing, thinking, and doing, we can more quickly understand their purpose for an agent, and thereby the user. We can also begin to think in terms of these building blocks when designing agentive technologies—to have them in our backpack. We can also have a frame for contextualizing future technologies as they become available.

Read the article: New Technologies to Consider for Interaction

How have you designed for agentive technology? Let us know below.

Building Products with Story

May 19th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article Donna Lichaw discusses how story can be thought of as a tool to enhance experience.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

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 Better Products with Story

Have you built better products with the help of story? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Your Job Ad: The Start of a Great Hiring Experience

May 13th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I share how to hire the best and brightest designers you can.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

For most organizations, hiring falls under what we’d call unintentional design. People in distant parts of the organization who have nothing to do with the new position are the ones who create the hiring procedures. They create standard ad templates, not because that’s the best way to attract top talent, but because it makes processing the paperwork faster. They assume everyone knows why they’d want to join the company, so why go to any effort to make it easy for the candidate?

We need to take control, break the rules, and design the hiring experience we want. The job ad is the first impression of your organization and your work. Let’s use our design skills and make it an intentional experience.

Read the article: Your Job Ad: The Start of a Great Hiring Experience

Have you had success hiring designers in your organization? Comment below, we’d love to hear your answers.

What Really Matters: Focusing on Top Tasks

May 5th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I revisit Gerry McGovern’s discussion on Top Tasks.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Digital is a space of endless replication. It has never been easier to create—and create, and create. People love to publish, but they hate to remove, which leads to overloaded websites and constant, inevitable redesigns. The top layers get a shiny new coat of graphics and meaningless “we really care” content—but underneath, a teeming mass of out-of-date, badly organized information still swirls about.

The solution is to make hard choices using Top Tasks Management. Top tasks are the small set of tasks (usually less than 10, often less than five) that matter most to your customers. Make these tasks work well, and you’ll be on the right track. Get them wrong, and chances are you’ll lose the customer.

Read the article: What Really Matters: Focusing on Top Tasks

Have you incorporated top task management in your organization? Comment below, we’d love to hear your answers.

Service Design Thinking

April 21st, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I revisit Marc Stickdorn’s discussion on Service Design Thinking.

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 incorporated service design thinking in your organization? Comment below, we’d love to hear your answers.

A Proven Method For Showing The Value Of Good UX

April 13th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I share a four step process for how organizations can translate costs from a poor UX design into a vision for making a great product or service.

Here are excerpts from the article:

Organizations that aren’t fixated on creating great user experiences are usually saddled with poor user experiences. A great user experience only comes about through constant diligence and attention. If the organization isn’t paying attention, it’s unlikely they stumbled on one by chance.

Calculating the cost of the frustration, wherever it’s coming from, is an ideal metric to drive the project and create a measurable approach to valuing design efforts. By finding a high-ranking champion outside the design team, we get exposure at a key part of the organization. And without wasting a minute in a brown-bag lunch lecturing on the importance of good user experience, we’ve shown the organization how good design can make us more profitable.

Read the article: A Proven Method For Showing The Value Of Good UX

How do you convert frustrating user experience into measurable product improvements? Share with us know below.

The Power of Experience Mapping

April 5th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article I tell you about how experience maps can help you understand customer problems.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

When someone influences the experience of the user, they, in that moment, become a user experience designer. Their influence may not be positive. Their knowledge of UX design principles may be small, even non-existent. Yet, because they affect the experience of the user, they are a designer, albeit an unofficial one.

Design is hard to define. We know it when we see it. (We certainly know poor design when we experience it.) Yet, describing it has been elusive.

Read the article: The Power of Experience Mapping

Does your team have a shared understanding of your customers’ problems? Comment below, tell us what you think.

We’ve invited Jim Kalbach, author of the fantastic book Mapping Experiences, to teach a full-day workshop on creating different kinds of maps to engage stakeholders and unofficial designers. Join us at the UX Immersion: Interaction Conference on May 3 in Portland, where you’ll learn the techniques for effective experience mapping. See exactly what you’ll learn.