About Jared M. Spool

A software developer and programmer, Jared founded User Interface Engineering in 1988. He has more than 15 years of experience conducting usability evaluations on a variety of products, and is an expert in low-fidelity prototyping techniques. Visit http://www.uie.com/ for more usability information. You can reach Jared by calling our office or by sending mail to jspool@uie.com.
What Makes a Design Seem ‘Intuitive’?

In a recent usability test, I once again witnessed something I’ve seen a hundred times before: a frustrated user claiming he knows exactly what is wrong with the interface he was fighting with. What was his suggestion? “These guys need to make this thing a lot more intuitive. The problem is that this program isn’t intuitive enough. It needs to be more intuitive!”

Preventing Usability Problems from the Get-go

The other day, Jeff Johnson, author of Web Bloopers, showed me something very interesting about Travelocity.com:

The Cost of Frustration
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It’s difficult to find someone who doesn’t believe it’s beneficial to make a more usable design. However, in today’s design environment, it’s often difficult to justify the expense of usability work against other business priorities.

The KJ-Technique: A Group Process for Establishing Priorities

Back in the late 1970’s, the US government commissioned a study to look at effective group decision making. In the study, they asked 30 military experts to study intelligence data and try to construct the enemy’s troop movements.

The Top 3 Priorities of the Talking Horse

A guy walks into a bar and tells the bartender he is all excited. Apparently, he just met a talking horse. He goes on and on about how impressed he was that the horse could talk. After a few minutes of listening, the bartender asks, “What did the horse say?”

Conducting Inherent Value Testing

In my last article, I summarized the benefits of Inherent Value Testing, a simple usability testing technique that can help you measure how your site communicates your product’s value.

Inherent Value Testing

Is your web site chartered with encouraging people to buy or use your product or service? Is it succeeding? It turns out there is a simple usability testing technique that can help you measure how your site communicates your product’s inherent value.

The CAA: A Wicked Good Design Technique

Here, in the nether-regions of the Greater Boston area, we have a linguistic habit of leaving the letter ‘R’ out of words like ‘car’ (pronounced caa) or ‘Harvard’ (pronounced haavaad). It’s what makes us special.

Strategies for Categorizing Categories

How does a site containing thousands of pages of content get users to the content they seek quickly? There are many different strategies for organizing content on sites and we recently took a hard look at five of them.

Triggerwords That Create Click Confidence

A few years back, we conducted one of the most painful usability studies in the history of our research. We learned some really important things, but I’m not sure the users in that study will ever forgive us.

Iterative Design — The Power of Cascading Style Sheets

Sheets for Prototyping is an essential tool for designers. The ability to take a vision, quickly mock it up, and present it for critique and evaluation is critical to developing quality, usable designs.

Prototypes are most valuable when teams can iterate quickly. Taking an idea, trying it out, discovering flaws, modifying the design, and trying it out again is the essence of an iterative approach to design.

Design Patterns — An Evolutionary Step to Managing Complex Sites

When your organization’s web site or intranet has hundreds of contributors, how do you ensure that every page is high quality and extremely usable? Especially, if these contributors have never designed a web page before?

The Best Tool to Discover User Needs

The most valuable asset of a successful design team is the information they have about their users. When teams have the right information, the job of designing a powerful, intuitive, easy-to-use interface becomes tremendously easier. When they don’t, every little design decision becomes a struggle.

The 7 Major Steps For Improving A Web Site

I recently gave a presentation to a group of web designers dealing with what I call the “Seven Steps to Achieving the Next Level” — getting development teams to a point beyond their current practices. Our research shows that almost every design project we see today can readily apply these seven techniques.

The Quiet Death of the Major Re-Launch

“It seems like a such a huge undertaking,” the Senior VP of Marketing told me. “Frankly, we’re terrified we’re going to make things worse than they already are.”

The VP was sitting at the conference table with her senior staff. They’d been discussing the state of the web site and their desire to completely redesign it.

5 Things To Know About Users

“Know Your Users” is the mantra of any good designer. Yet, *what* should you actually know about your users?

The Search For Seducible Moments

How do you let your users know about your site’s particular benefits? We get this question all of the time from designers. If you offer something that is unique to your organization, (and chances are that you do – that’s why you’re in business) then how do you make the users aware of these benefits?

A little while back, we had the chance to compare two web sites: Sears.com and Dell.com. Part of the objective of each site is to sell expensive products. In the case of Sears, they sell appliances, such as refrigerators and washers. Dell sells desktop PCs and laptops.

Evolution Trumps Usability Guidelines

“Use a Search Box instead of a link to a Search page.”

This is one guideline from the plethora of recently created usability guidelines to help designers produce more usable web sites. It makes sense. After all, there are more than 42 million web sites on the Internet. It should be simple to study these sites and put together a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” that, when followed, will produce easy-to-use sites.