Sunday, May 13, 2007

Special on Jared Spool

Dirk Knemeyer interviews Jared Spool ...

"Each month, InfoDesign interviews a thought leader in the design industry, focusing on people who are identified with or show strong sensibilities to the design of information and experiences. This month, Dirk Knemeyer interviews Jared Spool.

Jared is one of the most important - and best-recognized - voices in the field of usability. User Interface Engineering (, the firm that he founded in 1988, is the world's largest research, training and consulting firm specializing in website and product usability.

Dirk Knemeyer (DK): Jared, share with us what you've been thinking about and working on lately.

Jared Spool (JS): Well, lately, I've been thinking about chocolate chip cookies. I really like them. I probably don't get enough of them.

Oh, you mean about work. Ignore the cookie thing, then.

We've been working on lots of interesting stuff. It all ties in to having more information in each of the design stages.

For example, one project we've been working on is an informative-content framework. We're interested in information-rich designs, such as a site to help chemotherapy patients understand how to reduce symptoms or a technical support site that assists web services customers how to better implement and maintain the services.

When a design team has to tackle one of these designs, how do they know what content is required? They could do field studies (contextual inquiries and ethnography) to determine who the users are, what content they need, and when. However, that's an expensive, time consuming process and it comes at the beginning of a project, when resources and funds are extremely tight.

Therefore, we've been looking at ways to derive, at least for a first cut, the needs of users. In this, we turned to on-line discussion forums, where people discuss issues amongst themselves and we've been looking at the patterns you see in the questions and answers that people post.

We discovered that there are basically 14 types of questions, no matter what the subject matter. We're hoping these 14 types, which we're calling topic perspectives, can guide designers to plan and implement an initial information resource that is complete and helpful and delights their users."    (Continued via InfoDesign)    [Usability Resources]


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