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:

Teaching UX Designers to Always Be Learning

August 18th, 2017 by Jared Spool

This week’s article examines 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.

Narrative Virality: Changing Course from a Simple Story

August 14th, 2017 by Jared Spool

Storytelling is an essential form of human communication. You likely have a favorite story, and it’s probably something really memorable. The more that story is told and retold, the further it travels and the more influence it gains. A good story can be infectious. Stories can also come from unexpected places.

LaiYee Ho is the Head of Research at Wink and joins us for this podcast. Early in Wink’s research practice one story in particular resonated with the team that was uncovered during an in-home visit, the story of Dominic and Donna. That story spread throughout the organization and fundamentally changed the way Wink approached their products.

Also on the podcast is Whitney Quesenbery, the author of Storytelling for User Experience and UI22 Full-Day workshop leader. She shares her insights about Wink’s discovery and how storytelling can be one of the most powerful research tools.

Improve The Stories You Tell

Winning a User Experience Debate

August 11th, 2017 by Jared Spool

This week’s article is an excerpt from Undercover User Experience Design, a book by Cennydd Bowles and James Box. In it, Cennydd outlines his advice for winning a UX debate and explains what to do when you disagree with the feedback you receive on your design. We love this book, and think this excerpt is a great way to immerse yourself in his concept of undercover UX design.

Here are two passages from the article:

To bring UX to the heart of the business, you must persuade colleagues to trust your opinion and expertise. Handling critique well is an important way to earn trust. It’s easy to undo your hard work with rash disagreement. Never dismiss stakeholder feedback out of hand. Every designer makes mistakes, and there will always be approaches to a problem that you’ve not considered. The worst UX designers are those who succumb to the arrogant conceit that stakeholders are design-illiterate fools. It’s true that your business colleagues may not be able to express ideas in the same visual way you do, but smart stakeholders are always an advantage for a UX designer.

If you’re skeptical about your stakeholders’ requests, try them out anyway, then do it your way too. It takes longer, but you’ll gain trust by showing you can listen to feedback. You may be able to persuade your stakeholder why your design is stronger, or you may even find that his suggestion was better all along.

Read the article: Winning a User Experience Debate

Do you have your own methods for dealing with client feedback? Tell us about it below.

​Great News. You Didn’t Miss Your Chance to Save $300

August 8th, 2017 by Jared Spool

​Hello,

Th​e price increase for this amazing UX event happened last Saturday. But not for you.

Use the code SUMMER17 when you register through this coming Sunday for the full User Interface 22 conference and get $300 off of the current lowest available price.

But we all know saving money isn’t the only reason to come to this great event. Here are seven other reasons to​​​ register through ​this coming Sunday​​:

  • Two Day-long Workshops: Choose two fantastic interactive workshops to practice new techniques and strengthen your design skills.
  • 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 ​through this Sunday​ with coupon code SUMMER17​ to save $300.​

​I’m excited to see you in Boston.

Jared

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

August 2nd, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I discuss how to talk with stakeholders about their users and the challenges those users face to get an answer to the Back Up Question.

Here’s an excerpt from the  article:

The conventional reaction is to get them to specify their request in substantially more detail. What design would you like to see? Asking for more details puts these non-designers in the role of designing. That’s a role we should be involved in, if not taking over completely.

Instead, we need to know more about the problem. Why do they need this particular solution? There could be a better way to solve it. There could be a solution our design experience brings to the table, one that they wouldn’t know to propose.

How do we start to understand the problem their proposed solution wants to address? After dealing with this very problem for decades, I’ve come up with a simple question. I call it the Back Up Question.

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

Uncovering a deep understanding of the benefits of our designs is just the first step of a smart design process. We need an efficient process to take our team from a shared understanding to a successful delivery.

You don’t want to miss Dan Mall’s fantastic UI22 workshop, Design Workflow for a Multi-Device World on November 15 in Boston, MA. Dan will share his toolbox of design activities, and guide your team to craft an effective workflow that encourages collaboration and delivery. Read his workshop description for more details.

Do you have your own method for getting stakeholders and clients to take a step and talk about how the desired outcome of a project will benefit their users? Tell us about it below.

 

Save Hundreds on Your U​X​ Design​ Conference Investment

August 1st, 2017 by Jared Spool

Register for UI22​ through August 5th and save $300 on ​the tools to elevate what you do as a designer.

The price​ for this amazing event increases August 6th​. ​Many UX professionals ​have already registered at the lowest price and​ you should too​.

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:

SAVE $300 ON YOUR UI22 EXPERIENCE

Learning from the Work of Others

July 28th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, Will Schroeder discusses two studies by Rolf Molich in which several usability teams independently tested the same interface and how we can use this analysis to hold a mirror up to our own work.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

There are a lot of usability handbooks and guidelines out there with seemingly good advice, but should we adopt methods we’ve never seen in action? How do we learn from usability tests if the details of screening, test protocols, and analysis are not presented along with the test results? Can anyone accurately reproduce a usability test series from the limited descriptions in a typical conference paper? Most importantly, how can we learn from others without dogging their steps from start to finish?

We were excited when we learned that Rolf Molich had completed two studies that truly facilitate this kind of learning.

Read the article: Learning from the Work of Others

Are there other ways that you’ve been able to learn from the work of others? Tell us about it below.

Ultra-Contextual Design

July 21st, 2017 by Jared Spool

In today’s post, we’re happy to share an article on Contextual Design from Abi Jones.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The first step in creating a context­-aware system is understanding the context for use. There are two levels for contextual understanding, the broad context for the user journey and the ultra­-contextual aspects of each touchpoint within the journey.

Read the article Ultra-Contextual Design.

How do you implement contextually-aware designs? Tell us about it below.

Get Your Users What They Need to Solve Their Problems

July 18th, 2017 by Jared Spool

Come to UI22 for the most effective ways to solve users’ problems and achieve business goals through design.

A price increase for this incredible conference is coming soon. A ton of folks have already registered at the lowest price and this event will sell out.

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:

Don’t miss your chance to improve the UX design skills you need to succeed.

Come And Own The Experience

Despicable Design – When “Going Evil” is the Perfect Technique

July 14th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I discuss how “Going Evil” can break creative log jams and encourage collaboration.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

In many other exercises where you ask a group to talk about user experience, the designers often take over. They have the experience and generate ideas faster than their peers, so they dominate the discussion. This has the effect of pushing the non-designers aside.

Yet, in this exercise, making a design worse goes against every bit of training those designers have. It slows them down.

The people who believe they’re not designers can jump right in. A bonus is there’s no wrong answer. You can’t make something “not bad enough.” There’s always room for more badness.

Plus, it’s fun. Giggling. Laughing. Snickering. The room is alive and vibrant. This is a creative exercise with no downside. Everyone gets involved.

Read the article: Despicable Design – When “Going Evil” is the Perfect Technique

Have you had to “Go Evil” to foster a creative breakthrough? Tell us about it below.