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 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

 

Align Teams And Persuade Stakeholders With Story

October 12th, 2017 by Jared Spool

Integrate Storytelling into Your UX Practices

The stories we tell in our work are drawn from real data, real people. They are not based on fanciful, anecdotal collections of assumptions. We learn about the why of our customer’s behaviors by doing the hard work, like the many varieties of qualitative research we use, including interviews, ethnographic studies, and more.

When we create an effective, data-driven story that encapsulates a certain experience, we can pull members of a team together toward a singular product vision. We can use stories to set up scenarios for teams to problem-solve around and address those pain points that our customers experience along their journey. We can use them to connect the dots between our customer’s experiences and our design challenges.

Get hands-on and creative with the stories you tell and analyze by using personas, journey maps, sketches, cartoons, and storyboards to find your customer insights, and bring teams and stakeholders to agreement with solutions.

Help! Is There a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the Room?

October 6th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I examine the skills needed to build an ideal UX team.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Some of you may know that during the past 16 years, we’ve been researching what makes the ideal UX team. One of our early results is that roles don’t matter, skills do. It doesn’t matter if a team has an interaction designer or information architect. It does matter that interaction design and information architecture skills are present amongst the team.

Teams with the right skills are more likely to produce great user experiences. Teams missing the right skills are very unlikely to produce anything exciting or delightful. (Of course, we can’t say ‘never.’ Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every so often. But, if I’m staffing a team, I want to do so in a way that will have the best odds, no?)

Read the article: Help! Is There a Cardiothoracic Surgeon in the Room?

Does your team have the right skills? Let us know below.

Put Your Money Where Your Maps Are

October 5th, 2017 by Jared Spool

Drop the buzzwords that prevent user engagement

The boundaries between our offline and online worlds have blurred. The connective tissue between them is the liminal space we explore when we map out customer journeys. Why is it important for us to have a deep understanding of our customer’s behavior?

Because the customer experience, explains UI22 workshop leader Marc Stickdorn, is the new battleground. Businesses are losing billions of dollars to poor customer experiences every year.

Look to the airlines, everyone’s favorite punching bag these days. The airlines were once an industry that epitomized luxury, a pampered way to travel even for us schmucks in the back of the plane near the toilets. Flying has since devolved into an experience akin to a third-rate bus speeding through the Lincoln Tunnel in flames in a post-apocalyptic Stephen King novel, with complimentary stale pretzels.

How do we collect data to inform our customer journey maps? Research is often conducted with limited budgets and time. Don’t be dissuaded, explains Marc, from qualitative research because of these constraints. As teams, we need to know the right questions to ask when we define our research; otherwise, we’ll drown in data. Qualitative research provides the why in the data that quantitative cannot do. Make sure you’re observing your audience: their habits and patterns of behavior.

Zoom-in on those moments of your customer’s journey that are failing, that can be improved upon to heighten the customer’s experience, and your bottom line.

How Designers Turn Into Design Leaders

September 27th, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, I discuss effective ways to identify, support, and develop design managers into design leaders within an organization.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Just having a person appointed as design manager won’t get the organization great designs. Design leaders have to emerge for that to happen. Those leaders have to formulate a vision of what great design could be for that organization. And they have to gain followers among their peers throughout the organization, and support from the executive team.”

Read the article: How Designers Turn Into Design Leaders.

Do you have your own methods for cultivating design leadership? Let us know below.

Incorporating Content Strategy into Your Information Architecture

September 22nd, 2017 by Jared Spool

In this week’s article, Margot Bloomstein shares examples of how organizations are successfully incorporating content strategy into their information architecture.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

What’s in, and what’s out? “In my experience, it is very easy for brilliant information architects (or UX people who do information architecture) to underestimate the importance of editorial planning, voice and tone, and detailed guidelines for content creation. And conversely, it’s very easy for highly skilled content people to underestimate how much information architecture has to do with things other than content: the finicky details of application behavior and interaction design, in particular. I’m a huge fan of collaborations between information architects who care about editorial concerns and content strategists who love structure and talking about data. But whatever your situation, it’s important to know your way around structural design, if only so that you can provide useful feedback and support.”

Read the article: Incorporating Content Strategy into Your Information Architecture.

Are you incorporating content strategy into your company’s information architecture? Let us know below.

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

September 21st, 2017 by Jared Spool

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.

Service Design Thinking

September 15th, 2017 by Jared Spool

This week were are taking a look back at Marc Stickdorn’s article 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 applied Service Design Thinking in your organization? Tell us about it below.

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

September 8th, 2017 by Jared Spool

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

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