The SpoolCast with Jared Spool

The SpoolCast has been bringing UX learning to designers’ ears around the world since 2005. Dozens and dozens of hours of Jared Spool interviewing some of the greatest minds in design are available for you to explore.

Episode #104 Luke Wroblewski and Innovations in Web Input

October 7, 2010  ·  34 minutes

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To give you a taste of Luke Wroblewski's upcoming UI15 talk, Jared Spool had a chance to speak with him about some of the latest trends, good and bad, in web input.

Show Notes

Luke Wroblewski is one of UIE's top-rated speakers. He'll join us at User Interface 15 in November to teach the cutting edge, research-informed, best practices for taking advantage of rich interactions. He'll cover web forms, instantaneous sign-up processes, gradual engagement, and much more. He also has a heap of thought-provoking data and analysis of mobile Web tech and trends.

To give you a taste of that talk, Jared had a chance to speak with Luke about some of the latest trends, good and bad, in web input. Listen in to the podcast or check out the transcript.

Jared led off the discussion, by diving into one of Google's latest public innovations, Google Instant. If you've missed the hubbub, Google Instant starts searching and returning suggested queries as you type.  Luke saw this technology developed during his time at Yahoo!, back in 2005. They ended up not using the technique on Yahoo!'s search because it can increase the load on the servers ten-fold.

We see this type-ahead search springing up across the web. The trick, as Luke saw first hand with Yahoo's internal development, is doing it well. Doing so requires painstaking attention to detail, and the search itself must be tuned to the content of the site. The algorithms Google uses against their data might be very different from what an e-commerce site with only 400 products would use to provide a similar experience.

I think the ideas are really the easy part. It's the actual implementation and details of making that idea come to life. That's the hard part. Anyone can make these kind of off-hand comments, "We should do that".

Luke notes that type-ahead search works quite well on, returning intelligent results from their support pages, all as you type. The live results even feature inline images. What makes Apple's execution of the idea notable is that they didn't just do what everyone else is doing (suggest queries), but they adapted the idea to their site's context.

Jared and Luke continue the discussion in the podcast, including more on in-line, dynamic interactions, like at They also chat about innovations in web input, where your users can instantly have their content on your site without entering it again and again. Lastly, they discuss what Luke has in store for his full-day workshop at User Interface 15. It's a great discussion you won't want to miss. Don't forget to come back here and let us know your comments and questions about the topic!