The other day this event showed up in my inbox looking for attendees:

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UX Thursday, hosted by Jared Spool.

I’m trying to beef up my UX knowledge so it had my attention. When one of my officemates, who knows his stuff when it comes to design, added that whenever he sees Jared Spool speak he’s always come away with 3 to 4 amazing takeaways, I was sold.

The day delivered – eight presentations with two phenomenal keynotes that were good enough I wanted to highlight.

The Importance of “Intent” in Design

Jared Spool, UIE


Designing the user experience is an exercise in the rendering of intent.

  • Think about an Apple store – every aspect of the experience is intentional
  • Intent is placed along a spectrum of Imitation vs Innovation – It’s up to the designer to choose what kind of an experience they will create: one of imitation or one of innovation
  • Design isn’t just visual; business models can be designed as well – ex: Cirque du Soleil removed costly animals and hiked up ticket prices to innovate on the traditional circus business model

When designing, the key question to ask is, “What do you intend?” Everything else stems from that answer.

Jared wrapped up with a brilliant (and touching) example of user experience design success – GE’s Pirate Island MRI experience designed for children. David Kelly has a TED talk on Doug Dietz & GE’s story that talks about some similar aspects of Pirate Island to give you a sense, although Jared told the story better :).

starts around 6:00 minutes in

The Right Way To Do Critiques

Adam Connor, Mad*Pow


I’ve been doing critiques completely wrong. Literally. Here’s some methods that Adam’s team has developed:

  • Always ask “why” first, leading critiques with questions. Don’t assume anything and don’t give feedback telling someone how something should be. You’ll be making assumptions in so doing that could be very off.
  • Critiques focus on problems, not solutions. Similar to requirements gathering for business analysts, you should try to discover the “what”, not create the “how”. Your goal is to gain understanding, not specify changes.
  • Brainstorming is not critiquing. Brainstorming is just a collective group creating more ideas than individuals could on their own. Critique is a natural follow up to brainstorming, an opportunity to refine an open-ended list of ideas from a brainstorm session.

Adam also offered up some popular tools for critiques:

  • Personas – These are user archetypes
  • Goals – Make sure they’re measurable
  • Principles – Focus on qualities and characteristics
  • Scenarios – Short user narratives (more than use cases)

I’m keeping my eye out for more UX events so if you see one let me know. And next time you see Jared Spool or Adam Connor speaking at an event near you, make sure you go.