Last week on a rainy Thursday night, Jared Spool stood before a packed audience at Excella’s Arlington Tech Exchange and said, “We’ve got to take teams from unconscious incompetence through to conscious competence or even unconscious competence.” Across the room attendees scribbled in their notebooks and nodded their heads. Most seemed to understand this idea implicitly and, indeed, most were designers. For Spool, this is how a designer can help their organization go past what he calls the “UX tipping point” to become fully design-infused, where business needs and delightful design hold equal value and importance.
A legend in the UX/UI community, Spool is the founder of UIE and co-founder of Center Centre, a unique user experience design school. Spool is passionate about helping the next generation of UX designers have, in his words, “more awesome careers.”
Before he gave one of his world famous talks, we took the opportunity to gather some questions from one of Excella’s own UX designers. We then sat down with Spool to relay them.
1. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
Hard work pays off. There are no short cuts. UX is a long game.
2. What skill or thing would you recommend a designer to learn or master?
The one that they don’t know yet or the one that they’re most uncomfortable with – you should learn the thing you are most scared of. Once you know something you can conquer the world, but it’s not the skill that’s important, it’s learning the skill that is the important thing. A UX designer learns new things all the time, that’s their job – who their users are, what domains they use – so it’s not really the ‘skill’ that’s important, it’s learning things that is important. At Center Centre we teach people how to learn scary things because that is the only way to really learn how to learn.
3. What is your favorite pen?
One that doesn’t upset me when I lose it. I’m not really a pen and notebook guy – although I always have them on me – but I do feel that it’s the act of writing something down that’s the key. I like a pen with a smooth action (no cheap ballpoint pens), and right now I’m liking green ink.
4. What is something you’re not doing now that you wish you were doing?
Sleep. I love my work, I love what I’m doing and I can’t think of anything else that I wish I was doing… but I do love sleep. I’d like to do more of that.