Episode 18 | Posted on

Improving your User Interface Engineering to Delight Your Customers with Jared Spool

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This Week’s Guest:

Jared Spool is a guru on usability, and is the founder of User Interface Engineering (UIE). He’s the co-founder of Center Centre and author of the book, Web Site Usability: Designer’s Guide. He’s also co-authored Web Anatomy: Interaction Design Frameworks that Work. He is the conference chair and keynote speaker of the UI conference in the UX Immersion Conference. He’s been doing usability since 1978, and is considered the “godfather” in the field. He helps clients understand how to solve their design problems, explains to reporters and industry analysts what the current state of design is all about, and is a top-rated speaker at more than 20 conferences every year.


Analyzing your website’s metrics may give you some insight, but it’s probably not giving you the whole picture, such as why customers are leaving your site, or why they are not checking out. Jared Spool dives into the world of personal interaction with customers, and tells us why we should be focusing more on the experience of visiting a website. If you go beyond numbers and into the minds of your clients, you will see your sales rise.
We discuss:

  • Why customers get frustrated with their online shopping experience, and how to fix it.
  • What metrics you should be focusing on.
  • How to learn from the client experience, instead of relying on numbers.
  • Measuring your progress in a personal way.

Here’s what I learned:

Marketing and Usability Interfacing

  1. Both are an important part of the experience of a customer.
  2. Marketing is a lifetime activity-if you are good at marketing, you’re going to get prospects coming into the funnel at all times.
  3. The #1 thing that drives lifetime value is the quality of the experience that the client has with the product or service.
    • If the service is frustrating, that is just going to make the marketing work that much harder.
    • If clients have a good experience, it basically markets itself.

Going Beyond Customer Satisfaction

  1. Jared says it’s how you would describe your favorite restaurant as “edible” or “very edible” or “not very edible”
    • That is how we see our customers and clients-“That was very dissatisfying,” “That was somewhat satisfying,” or “That was somewhat edible”
  2. The basic element of delight is that it is the opposite of frustration-basically nothing goes wrong.
  3. It’s possible to create delightful experiences even from frustrating ones if you put interesting, creative thoughts into it.
    • That is what web designers do-they look to remove frustration and add delight into the process.
    • Measuring progress is key to finding what is going right, or what needs to be changed.

How to Measure Progress

  1. Many people use Net Promoter, tracking promoter scores, but that system has many problems.
    • It’s a sort of crazy metric—you take all the scores that are six and below and subtract them from the collective scores that are eight and above.
    • It doesn’t take into account people who don’t respond, or someone is so delighted but doesn’t have time for the survey.
    • If your score tanks, you don’t always know what you’re supposed to do differently.
  2. Jared recommends Gallup CE11.
    • It was put together by the Gallup people-they also put together the election polls and political polls.
    • It’s an 11 question system-one of the questions is “Would you recommend this to somebody?”
    • They have the intent of trying to understand and answer the questions, “What does it really take to keep customers engaged?” and “How would we measure whether we’re doing a good job on that or not?”
    • The way they measure brands is that they break it up into five different categories: Loyalty, Confidence, Integrity, Passion, and Pride.
    • They look at each of those categories with 11 questions.

Actionable Metrics

  1. A metric is a measure that we track over time, then look for changes.
    • When they change, that triggers us to do something different.
  2. The key is understanding what the differences are.
    • Common metrics like bounce rate, time on page, or number of pages visited don’t tell you why the numbers are the way they are.
  3. We want to separate the differences, but we don’t have tools to do that if we can’t tell the people who were there by mistake from the people who are there deliberately.
  4. Conversion rates can be manipulated.
    • You can double the conversion by getting twice as many people to purchase.
    • You can also double your conversion rate with the same number of purchasers by halving the number of visitors.
  5. Quality leads are a much better, and more actionable, metric.
    • Jared would have sales people rate the leads and see how many quality leads were producing.
    • They would then look for patterns in what makes a good lead and a bad lead.
    • It’s different than an analytics tool because the sales people apply quality to it.

Shopping Cart Abandonment

  1. Jared believes that shopping cart abandonment is a myth.
  2. When you actually watch people shop, you see very little instances of shopping cart abandonment.
  3. If it’s happening, there is a problem in the system, or something is wrong with the experience.
    • People are not realizing they’re adding things to the cart or they’re not realizing that by putting things in the cart, they’re signaling an intent to purchase.
    • Jared had a client where user login issues were what was causing shopping cart abandonment.
    • When they added a ‘guest’ log in tab, their revenue increased by $300 million-just because of that change.

User Experience Work

  1. Watching users shop or use a website helps you to problem solve and learn if there are issues with the experience clients are having with your site.
  2. If somebody is not happy and they’re getting frustrated, Jared allows them to give him that feedback.
    • He takes a piece of masking tape that’s about 2-3 inches long and on one end of it, he draws a happy face and then on the other end of it, he draws a frowning face.
    • He then puts five marks evenly spaced between the happy face and the frown face.
    • He asks them to slide a coin to the frown side if they’re frustrated or the happy side if they’re delighted as they’re using the website, product, or service.
      • Every time something important happens in the user experience, Jared can track it with this easy system.
      • It’s personal to the client, not just a number.
      • When they move the coin, he asks them why.
      • They use qualified customers for the survey.

Metrics to Track Frustration

  1. Every time someone gets an error message in your system.
    • Whatever the cause is, you’re making the client go through work.
  2. Most companies don’t know the most issued error messages on their website.
  3. Every error message should be documented and that should be on a dashboard.
  4. If you spend money on retaining a customer, it’s better than spending money on bringing a new customer.

Step up your marketing game!

  1. Gather a group of qualified customers and use the coin trick to rate their satisfaction while they are using your website or service.
  2. Consider marketing a lifetime activity and work on progressing the client experience throughout their whole journey, not just for the sale.
  3. Use the survey from Gallup CE11 for more personal metrics.

Links and resources mentioned

User Interface Engineering (UIE)
Center Centre

Web Site Usability: Designers Guide

Web Anatomy: Interaction Design Frameworks that Work.

UX Immersion Conference

Gallup CE11

Gallup StrengthsFinder

StrengthsFinder 2.0

Google Analytics



Jared Live

Jared on LinkedIn

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Gather a group of qualified customers together and use the coin trick to rate their satisfaction while they are using your website or service.

☑ Consider marketing a lifetime activity and work on progressing the client experience throughout their whole journey, not just for the sale.

☑ Use the survey from Gallup CE11 for more personal metrics.

☑ Stay on top of error codes on your site; know why they are happening and fix the issues to prevent loss of sales.

☑ If you try the coin test, put together a list of questions beforehand. Make sure you ask “why” when they are moving the coin.

☑ Use a good experience to allow your website or company to market itself-ensure that your clients are happy, and they will refer others to you.

☑ Pay attention to shopping cart abandonment. If it’s happening, dig deeper into what part of the sale they are abandoning their cart.

☑ Have team members rate your leads on a scale of good to bad, to see the type of customer you should be targeting.

☑ Use your data to retain current customers- keeping the customers you already have should be your focus.

☑ Allow your website to work for your client. Have a guest tab for checkout, in case a client does not want to register for an account.


S: This is Stephan Spencer, you’re listening to Marketing Speak and today I am so excited to have Jared Spool on who is a guru on usability. He’s one of the top guys. And just a little bit about Jared before we dig in to this episode, Jared Spool is the founder of User Interface Engineering or UIE. He’s the co-founder of Center Centre and author of the book, Web Site Usability: Designer’s Guide. He’s also co-authored Web Anatomy: Interaction Design Frameworks that Work. He is the conference chair of the UI conference in the UX Immersion Conference. He’s been doing usability since 1978. He is the “godfather” of usability. It’s great to have you, Jared! It’s so great to have you, I’m really excited to dig in!

J: I’m very excited to be here!

S: Yeah, so let’s start with a more broad and hone in on some topics here but I want to understand a bit more about how you see marketing and usability interfacing or going hand-in-hand because of course they do but most people see them as separate disciplines.

J: They are all part of the experience of a customer. And I guess it depends on whether you consider marketing to be a pre-sales activity or a post-sales activity or a lifetime activity. I don’t know—what do you think it is?

S: I think it’s lifetime so if you are good at marketing, you’re going to get prospects coming into the funnel and then if you are good at marketing post-sale then you have a great customer lifetime value and they are going to continue to buy more and they are going to buy more with increased frequency and spend more per purchase and they will be with you for a lifetime, hopefully.

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