Wed, 23 December 2015
In service design and delivery, people are the user interface between an organization and its customers. This anecdotal episode recounts two excellent customer experiences with two seemingly well-run companies. Both employ people whose friendly personalities and professional skills, backed by efficient business processes, won them Tim's business.
Tue, 13 October 2015
Wayne Neale, CEO of Kaydak, joins Tim Keirnan for an interview that ranges across several topics:
Mon, 7 September 2015
Time for a mobile episode! Aravindh Baskaran, UX researcher and designer, joins Tim Keirnan to look at the user experience of Android Lollipop. What did we like about it and what do we think could be better? With Android Marshmallow on the way, it's time to reflect on Lollipop's effectiveness.
Wed, 8 July 2015
The Design Critique podcast celebrates its tenth anniversary! While others have podfaded, we have persevered.
Direct download: DesignCritique111_10thAnniv_with_Tom_and_Starbucks_UX.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:51pm EST
Sat, 13 June 2015
In this first audio editorial episode, Tim relates how he rediscovered the advantages of small electronics devices over their larger-screened brothers. Thanks to Dad for inspiring this one.
Sun, 17 May 2015
Hi everyone, this is a reminder that Internet User Experience is coming back to Ann Arbor, Michigan this June. Also, we have email falling out of the previous episode about the Beluga Razor design.
Visit the IUE2015 website at
Sun, 22 March 2015
Zac Wertz, inventor of the Beluga Razor, joins Tim Keirnan for an interview about the design of both the Beluga Razor prototype and the BelugaShave.com website. Across 80 minutes of uninterrupted, commercial-free conversation, Zac and Tim discuss hardware and digital designs, including
Mon, 16 February 2015
Jonathan Tilley, voiceover professional, joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion on how user experience professionals can find freelancing opportunities, either full or part time.
Sun, 18 January 2015
Melissa Smith returns for a special Human Factors News Desk episode that reports on the HFES 2014 annual meeting. If you missed the conference, or if you want to hear about sessions other than the ones you attended and the overal trends and themes she noticed, listen to this half hour with Melissa!
Sun, 31 August 2014
Brad Jensen returns to help Tim critique the Magellan RoadMate 2230T-LM portable GPS. This completes our series on portable GPS for the car and provides a fascinating look at how three manufacturers have designed similar solutions. The strenghts of the Magellan include
Wed, 28 May 2014
Mike Velasco returns to discuss the Windows Phone 8 duo from Nokia, the Lumia 520 and 521. These smart phones may be the best value in a phone ever sold to this point. The guys explain why the design, including the price point, is so attractive.
Melissa Smith returns with the Human Factors News Desk to discuss the following:
Gaspar, J. G., Neider, M. B., Crowell, J. A., Lutz, A., Kaczmarski, H., & Kramer, A. F. (2013). Are Gamers Better Crossers An Examination of Action Video Game Experience and Dual Task Effects in a Simulated Street Crossing Task. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Finally, contributor Costan Boiangiu told us about this article on step stool design, which echoes our 100th Anniversary Episode topic!
Mon, 10 February 2014
Human Factors PhD student Melissa Smith joins Tim for an experiment in bringing human factors-related research to you in three short summaries. Melissa is at George Mason University and donated her time to discuss recent human factors research with Tim.
Thu, 28 November 2013
Dr. Robert Youmans from George Mason University joins Tim Keirnan for a wordcast episode on verbal protocols. Why and how do we ask usability research participants to think aloud about their task performance, and what does using this method do to our data? Dr. Youmans covers four different methods of thinking aloud:
Tue, 29 October 2013
Mike Velasco joins Tim Keirnan for an episode to discuss the customer experience of two Android smart phones: the LG Motion and the Google Nexus 4 (also manufactured by LG). These two very different Android phones each have their own advantages, as do the carriers Tim used them on (MetroPCS and Solavei, respectively).
Direct download: DesignCritique102_Android_Phone_UX__LG_Motion__Nexus_4.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:06pm EST
Sun, 1 September 2013
Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus returns for a wordcast episode on the user experience profession that probes the origins of our field. Where did it come from, and how did we come to have jobs in it? And is "customer experience" a better phrase for what we do?
You can learn about ISO standards for usabilty at the wonderful Usability.Net:
Sat, 29 June 2013
On the 8th anniversary and 100th episode of Design Critique, Timothy Keirnan is joined by a celebratory guest who is no stranger to long-time listeners of the show. Our topic is the design of an everyday object that helps everyone reach a little higher in life: the step stool. We like how such a simple object has so many facets, features, and personas for design consideration.
This episode closes with some old outtakes from the early recordings we did at Country Squire Studio 1 from 2005-6. Ahh, memories. Thanks for listening!
Sun, 12 May 2013
In an audio editorial, Tim asks if the supposed death of bricks 'n mortar stores at the hands of online sales is greatly exaggerated. What do you think?
Sat, 30 March 2013
Brad Jensen and Tim Keirnan present a longitudinal review of the Garmin Nuvi 50 portable GPS. What does it do well, and how could its interaction design and interface design be improved?
Sun, 24 February 2013
The first in a series of Bad Button Labels We Have Known. Brad Jensen joins Tim Keirnan to discuss the Chaos button on his father's new microwave oven. Why do companies allow such dreadful UI labels? Mr. Jensen's microwave is the first of many terrible examples we plan to cover on occasion in future episodes.
Sun, 27 January 2013
Caitlin Potts discusses using using site maps as website design tools. You can have her Omnigraffle template for free at the following link:
Caitlin Potts is a User Experience Practitioner (Designer + Researcher) at Covenant Eyes, Inc. in Owosso, MI. Working as part of an Agile team, she spends her time collaborating with the Developers to design web, mobile, and client application interfaces. She is also leading the development of a brand standards guide for Covenant Eyes.
Fri, 21 December 2012
A heartwarming holiday tale of good customer service after the sale. Nokia politely and efficiently repaired Tim's Lumia 710 Windows Phone, using a combination of good website design, excellent customer service desk people, and a "do it right the first time" service department.
Tue, 20 November 2012
Even when the initial user experience of a product is good, the total customer experience suffers when a company ignores service after the sale. We at Design Critique argue that service after the sale IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF A PRODUCT'S DESIGN because it directly affects the customer experience. Only bad companies isolate product design from customer service design. In Tim's case, T-Mobile destroyed a loyal, 8-year customer relationship for its monthly prepaid service by
One anecdote does not make a statistically significant trend, but anecdotes provide useful insights into the how and why of customer service failures.
Mon, 5 November 2012
Tobby Smith returns to help Tim provide a longitudinal review of Nokia's Lumia 710 Windows phone. After over eight months of use, the Lumia 710 proved itself a terrific value in smart phone quality, including
Sun, 21 October 2012
Listener Costan Boiangiu rejoins the show for a wordcast on haptic feedback in product design. What is it, how is it used currently in product designs, and how could it be used? We discuss designs that have haptic feedback innately as well as designs where the haptics have been added. Thanks for Tim's coworker, Gary, for suggesting this topic for the show.
Wed, 12 September 2012
"From Information Architecture to Ambient Findability to Intertwingularity: An Inspiring Conversation with Peter Morville "
Recorded June 18th, 2012 at IUE2012.
Peter Morville (above, left), best known as a founding father of information architecture, co-authored the profession's best-selling book, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web.
Visit Peter's blog and more at http://semanticstudios.com/
Fri, 31 August 2012
Tobby Smith joins Tim Keirnan for a longitudinal review of the Windows Phone 7.5 mobile operating system. Both guys have been using it on Nokia Lumia 710 handsets since last winter and are ready to explain why they enjoy the Windows Phone customer experience, as well as complain about the negative points which they hope Microsoft will fix in the upcoming Windows Phone 8.
The episode of Design Critique with Matt Hard that covered the Zune HD, the predecessor to Windows Phone, can be heard at
Wed, 11 July 2012
A very special mailbag episode in which
Tue, 29 May 2012
Listener Lynn Leitte joins Tim for a discussion on how a fad of low-contrast visual design is hurting readability of text and usability of interface elements. What say you?
Episode was recorded in late April but for a plethora of reasons is only available now.
Mon, 2 April 2012
Dana Chisnell from Usability Works discusses her latest project, Field Guides for Ensuring Voter Intent. This Kickstarter crowd-source funded project will design, write, publish, and distribute concise design guidelines for usable ballot design to public servants around the United States. And, eventually, beyond.
Fri, 30 March 2012
The GoldStar MA6511W microwave oven is a triumph of kitchen appliance interaction design. Featuring only two mechanical controls that are all too rare in an age of overly-complex digital designs, the MA6511W deserves as much praise as can be put into this 16 minute episode. The adjective "intuitive" is often over-used, but it applies to this small microwave oven.
Microwaves are functionally simple devices often made difficult to use by manufacturers who put frivolous features and buttons on something that doesn't need to be complex. A mad dash for "features" at the expense of audience needs and usability is common in microwave oven design, but GoldStar's design team tightly focused this oven for a particular audience (re-heating in space-cramped kitchens) and did NOT try to please everyone. The result is a wonderful appliance that has also proven very durable--7 years of trouble-free service at the time of this episode's publishing.
The How Stuff Works website referred to in the episode has some podcasts you might be interested in:
Thu, 23 February 2012
Listener Costan Boiangiu joins the show with comments on episode DC84, The State of the Internet User Experience 2011 panel session from Internet User Experience 2011.
Direct download: Listener_Feedback_with_Costan_Boiangiu_FEB2012.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:18pm EST
Mon, 30 January 2012
"Attack of the Pointless Modal Confirmations"
It takes eleven, that's 11, taps to change voices on the XL335TM. I am not making this up.
Two feedback emails round out this 46-minute episode.
Tue, 13 December 2011
A new Design Critique episode type is born. When someone sends feedback on an episode, they may be asked to come on the show and discuss what they had to say. That's how Eric Gauvin from the USA got roped into doing an episode with Tim regarding Eric's email comments on episode DC84, The State of the Internet User Experience 2011 panel.
Thanks to Eric for making time to talk with me.
And season's greetings, everyone!
Thu, 24 November 2011
In which Tim Keirnan and Mike Beasley discuss vintage shaving tool designs, featuring the safety razor and straight razor. Shaving with these old methods has many advantages, including:
Sun, 30 October 2011
Recorded live at Internet User Experience 2011 on October 11th, it's the panel session "The State of the Internet User Experience" starring
Sun, 23 October 2011
In this followup to episode DC82a, Tim describes the conclusion of his interaction with Logitech Customer Support. Unlike the MINI/BMW car maker attitude towards service after a sale, Logitech proves itself exceptionally good at listening to a complaint about a defective product and fixing it quickly without hassle.
Mon, 12 September 2011
The longitudinal review of Tim's 2009 MINI Cooper is here! A car so unreliable that he had to get rid of it after only 2.5 years. Automotive human factors engineer Ken Mayer (cohost from our earlier Saturn SC2 car critique) returns to help Tim on this very detailed critique of the second generation MINI Cooper, a stunning mix of greatness and disaster (the car, we mean, not this critique). If you love cars, you'll love this episode. We put the long in longitudinal product reviews!
Tue, 30 August 2011
Tim critiques the Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2 portable speaker system for iPods, iPhones, and other sound-making gadgets. The Pure-Fi Anywhere was Logitech's sequel to the highly successful mm50, which Tim and Alan reviewed way back in episode DC39.
Thu, 28 July 2011
DC81: 6th Anniversary Episode with Dr. Susan Weinschenk on 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People
Sixth Anniversary Edition! Dr. Susan Weinschenk joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion of her latest book, 100 Things Every Designer Should Know About People. Not just a collection of opinons, 100 Things... presents up-to-date research on the fundamentals that uderpin our work as UX professionals, while exposing several popular myths and misconceptions along the way.
Mon, 18 July 2011
I just published an article on usability testing for entrepreneurs at Entrepreneurial America's website. It's a great place and I encourage you to check it out.
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm EST
Thu, 30 June 2011
Time for another wordcast episode, this time on ROI. Chad Esselink from the Ford Motor Company joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion on calculating return on investment for UX projects and forming a usability team. While at Ford, Chad used case studies backed with return on investment calculations to get buy-in from his superiors to create the Creative Design & Usability team.
Thu, 28 April 2011
Author Giles Colborne from CX Partners joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion about his book Simple And Usable: Web, Mobile and Interaction Design. To quote the back cover:
Thu, 31 March 2011
Tim interviews Carol Smith about the Usability Professionals Association's body of knowledge project. Carol led Michigan UPA members in a body of knowledge work day hosted at the offices of Tec-Ed, Inc., in Ann Arbor on Saturday, March 26, 2011.
Sat, 26 February 2011
Davin Granroth joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion of a structured design review method. This way to critique a design obtains maximum useful feedback with minimum pain to people's feelings. Tim refers to it now as "The Granroth Review Method" but Davin is quick to thank some writing professors at Michigan State University for the concept, which Davin has adapted well to our UX professional needs.
Wed, 19 January 2011
Dr. Nelson Soken, co-author of Lead the Pack: Sparking Innovation that Drives Customers Wild, joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion of the book and its principles. At the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society annual meeting in 2009, Dr. Nelson Soken delivered the keynote presentation to the Product Design technical group based on his book. Tim like it so much he bought the book and is now proud to interview Dr. Soken on Design Critique.
Thu, 23 December 2010
The ultimate longitudinal review, five years in the making. Sennheiser has changed their once-terrific PX-100 headphones for the worse. We don't often do negative reviews on Design Critique, but it's useful to analyze how a great user experience can disappoint after several years ownership. Reliability is the Achilles heel of the PX-100 and now it's even worse with brittle plastic, reduced cushioning, and wickedly tight pressure through the headband.
Tue, 9 November 2010
Peter Morville joins Timothy Keirnan to discuss the keynote presentation at Internet User Experience 2010 and his new book, Search Patterns, co-written with Jeffrey Callendar.
Sun, 10 October 2010
Mark Phillips from Vertabase joins Tim Keirnan at Internet User Experience 2010 to talk about project management's effects on design. Mark's session at IUE was called "Connecting Pixels, Bytes, and Dollars: How Designers, Developers, and Clients Can Work Together."
Fri, 27 August 2010
Tim Keirnan interviews the design & development team for TechSmith's upcoming Snagit for Macintosh. Items discussed include:
* How and why did TechSmith decide to do a version of their popular Snagit for the Mac OSX platform?
* What is the design process of Snagit for Mac?
* How is Snagit for Mac related to Snagit for Windows?
* Why did TechSmith decide to try an open beta process and how is it helping their design process?
So check it out before you listen, or while you listen. You can find the Snagit for Macintosh free beta at the following addresses:
Sat, 7 August 2010
Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering joins Tim Keirnan for Design Critique's 5th anniversary episode. That's FIVE years, folks!
The guys discuss some favorite UX-related new media audio and video shows, debate the effectiveness of advertisements in new media shows, and generally engage in freewheeling talk that never takes itself too seriously.
We close with a promo for UIE's User Interface 15 conference to be held in Cambridge, MA this November. Links:
Wed, 23 June 2010
Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus joins Tim Keirnan for a quick promo of the upcoming Internet User Experience 2010 conference, to be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from July 24 - 28, 2010. To learn more about IUE2010 and to register, please visit www.iue2010.com
Wed, 26 May 2010
DC70b Interview: Pt 2 of Jeff Smith on Gathering User Feedback from Internal Sources to Supplement Formal Usability Studies
Jeff Smith of IBM's Hardware Experience Design Group presents part two of our "director's cut" of the presentation he gave at the 2009 HFES conference, "Gathering User Feedback from Internal Sources to Supplement Formal Usability Studies".
In part two, Jeff details the ways in which the following internal departments of employers and clients can help us get informal user feedback to supplement our primary data:
* Test Engineers (QA)
Each of these areas can supply a user experience professional with invaluable insights and observations of customers/end users. Jeff tells us the promise and the limitations of using their data in our own work. Jeff's coauthors on the presentation were Daniel P. Kelaher and David T. Windell.
Mon, 10 May 2010
DC70a Interview: Pt 1 of Jeff Smith on Gathering User Feedback from Internal Sources to Supplement Formal Usability Studies
Jeff Smith of IBM's Hardware Experience Design Group presents a "director's cut" of the presentation he gave at the 2009 HFES conference. Tim liked it so much in San Antonio that he wanted to hear an expanded version on Design Critique so here it is, titled "Gathering User Feedback from Internal Sources to Supplement Formal Usability Studies".
In part one, Jeff
* Describes his job as a human factors engineer with IBM,
* Tells his interpretation of the field combined with IBM's corporate values,
* Discusses the essential nature of communication to both clients and coworkers
* Shares his "elevator speech" of what he does for a living, and
* Emphasizes the importance of field research if you're able to do it on a project.
In part 2, Jeff will explain the methods of using internal sources to supplement formal user research. Jeff's coauthors on the presentation were Daniel P. Kelaher and David T. Windell.
Thu, 29 April 2010
If we were a commercial show, we'd sing something like "All we are saying is give Zune a chance." Computer programmer (and rumored private detective) Matt Hard joins Tim for a discussion of the user experience of Microsoft's Zune media players, Zune 4.0 software, and the Zune Pass music rental service. Born in ridicule, the Zune ecosystem has matured into something so good that Tim did not want to return Matt's kindly lent Zune8GB and ZuneHD players. Intrigued? Read on...
* Both guys preferred the Zune flash player to their old iPod Nanos. Listen to find out why.
* The ZuneHD has a terrific screen and touch user interface that Matt likes, but that Tim isn't so keen on. Listen to the reasons for their widely differing perspectives.
* The Zune 4.0 software is terrific for music, but stinks for podcasts. Hear how a dreadful installation experience almost made Tim give up on even trying the Zune.
* The Zune Pass service is more rent-to-own than rent, a great idea that was almost ruined by a terrible trial experience that Tim rants about.
You can find out more about the Zune at www.Zune.net. You can try the software for free to see what we're oohing and ahhing about.
Thu, 15 April 2010
Instructions are an integral part of the user experience of products and services. Anne Gentle from JustWriteClick joins Tim to talk about the social Web's impact on creating technical communication in the 21st century.
You can download a free chapter from Anne's new book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation, at
Anne's blog is at www.JustWriteClick.com.
Thu, 18 February 2010
Andy Budd from ClearLeft joins Tim for a discussion about Silverback, a guerilla usability testing application for Macintosh computers. Andy also informs us about the upcoming UX London conference to be held in May of this year. You can find information about Silverback at www.SilverbackApp.com You can find information about the UX London conference at http://2010.uxlondon.com/
Tue, 26 January 2010
Serena Rosenhan and her husband, Blair, join Tim for a critique of the Betty Crocker BC-1957 waffle iron. Part one of this episode is a very informal, out-of-the-box usability test recorded live in the Rosenhan kitchen on a sunny Saturday morning as Serena and Blair cooked brunch for Tim.
Part two, which occurs around 42 minutes into the episode, was recorded several months later when Serena had used the waffle iron again and could join Tim via phone for a "longitudinal review" as we like to do here on Design Critique. Even something as simple as a waffle iron has numerous areas of needed improvement or, in the case of the vertical storage ability of this unit, areas of impressive innovation.
Sat, 19 December 2009
Colin from Canada returns to discuss his three iterations for the Design Critique blog page redesign. Because this project is not "real" in a commercial sense, we tried three iterations with increasing levels of client involvement just to see how the designs might differ.
Design 1 was purely from Colin's perspective as a listener to the show, wth no involvement from Tim.
Design 2 was derived from Colin's interview questions that he'd normally ask an actual client.
Design 3 included Tim's general vision of what he wants in the new page design, plus Colin's executing the details.
Remember to see episode DC654a for the PDF file of Colin's three designs, or look at them on Colin's own website at
Listener Tom from Maryland asks some very important questions about hackintoshing, end-user license agreements, and the poorly implemented and supported EFI-X module.
The "Why Does Apple Allow Personal Hackintoshes" article is at
The "It's time to bring the EULA madness to an end!" editorial is at
Sat, 19 December 2009
Here's the image file for Colin's three iterations of the new Design Critique blog page design. You will need to view this file before or while you listen to episode 65b.
Mon, 30 November 2009
Hi everyone, the wine glasses Michael Graves told us about in episode 61 from this past August are now finished. You can see them next to bottles of [Yellow Tail] wine in the photo accompanying this blog posting, and also I have put them into the episode art for DC61 alongside the images of Michael Graves hand mixer from Target.
For the next several weeks you can bid on several sets of these limited edition wine glasses at eBay. Proceeds benefit the American Association of Museums.
To hear our interview with Michael Graves, scroll down the page to episode 61, or check the podcast feed, or click this link:
Sat, 31 October 2009
Simon Barnard from Cosmic Hobo Productions joins Tim Keirnan and Chad Esselink to discuss the design of The Scarifyers audio adventures as heard on BBC 7. Combining old time radio detective and horror stories with X-Files mystery and dry English humor, The Scarifyers have been "saving Great Britain since 1936"--sometimes in spite of themselves. How does the script, the music, the artwork, and the acting come together to create the experience?
You can find The Scarifyers at
You can learn about Nicholas Courtney (Inspector Lionheart) at
You can learn about Terry Molloy (Professor Dunning) at
Learn about Hugo Pratt's historical fiction at
Tue, 29 September 2009
Jeremy Keith from Clearleft discusses his session at 2008's UI13 conference called Ajax Design Considerations that Tim attended. What do UX professionals need to know about Ajax to best make use of it in websites and web applications? And why is Jeremy's title at Clearleft currently "Lineman for the County"?
You can find Clearleft at
Check out the 2009 dConstruct conference at
UI14 is coming this November and you can learn more about it at
The Wikipedia entry for Jimmy Webb's classic song "Wichita Lineman" is at
Wed, 2 September 2009
Doug Jung joins Tim for a discussion of the Macintosh they built with the EFI-X V1 boot processing unit. The product enables the building of your own custom Macintosh and works somewhat as advertised, but reputed poor durability and consistently poor customer service from Art Studios Entertainment Media ruin what could have been a terrific customer experience. We even have a Fawlty Towers clip to illustrate ASEM's customer service style.
You can find pictures of the V1 at the symbolically unusable EFI-X website on
(we're so disgusted with EFI-X that we won't directly link to them, you'll have to type the address manually)
Unfortunately, you must register on the efi-x.com forums to read the complaints customers are having with the unit's fragile nature and ASEM's astounding indifference to the many valid criticisms of the product.
To read alternate, and in our opinion more accurate, information about the EFI-X V1 and V1.1, and to find possible alternatives, go to
Email from listener Alan closes the episode.
Wed, 5 August 2009
For the 4th anniversary episode of Design Critique, Michael Graves and Tony Hron from the Michael Graves Design Group join Timothy Keirnan to discuss product design:
* The wine glasses that [yellow tail] wines commissioned Michael Graves to make for their new wine[tails] mixed drinks. Pix will be at the show's blog page as soon as they are released.
* Tim's Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Hand Mixer, a part of the Michael Graves Design collection at Target stores. Pix are at the blog page now, DesignCritique.net.
* General design discussion.
* Designing for accessibility in a world that still does not value universal design as it should.
Tim closes the episode with some listener feedback and his own reflections on doing the show for the past four years.
The press release for the wine glasses is at
Michael Graves' firms are at
Wikipedia entry about Mr. Graves, focusing more on his architecture:
Michael Graves designs at Target:
The [yellow tail] website is
The [yellow tail] twitter address is
Listener Alan's review site for iPod Touch/iPhone apps for young children is
When the final photos of the wine glasses we talked about are available, they will appear in the artwork for this episode.
Thanks for listening for the past four years, folks. Write a review of the show on iTunes if you'd like to help us celebrate.
Sun, 19 July 2009
Colin Finkle from www.finkle.ca returns to discuss redesigning the blog page for the show. This episode is the sequel to DC56, and you might want to hear that one first before hearing this one.
In this second part of the series, Tim (in the role of client) tells Colin (in the role of consultant) what he envisions for the new blog page. Based on this episode, Colin will create a third mockup to display in a future episode along with the "client-free" mockups done by Colin on his own.
Amidst the discussion, Tim rants against those who disdain a typeface even though context may justify its use for a specific goal. Since when did joining form with function become unfashionable? Should design teams allow some elitist snobs' whims of fashion dictate what typefaces should and should not be used for a purpose?
Thu, 25 June 2009
Mike Elledge of MSU's Usability & Accessibility Center joins Tim for a freewheeling, after-dinner discussion about accessibility in product designs. What is it, why should we care, and how do we achieve it? This episode explores the fundamental concepts of accessibility.
You can reach Mike at
ELLEDGE (followed by the at sign) MSU dot EDU.
The MSU Usability & Accessibility Center is at
The W3C Web Accessibility initiative is at
Web Accessibility In Mind is at
Section 508 guidelines are at
CSUN Conference is at
Accessing Higher Ground Conference is at
The Blind Webbers listserv is at
The Web Axe podcast on accessibility is at
Mon, 18 May 2009
Tim Keirnan interviews Jim Jacoby of Manifest Digital about "big picture" UX and our ideal place inside companies. Jim's presentation was called "Interaction Designers As The Next Generation of Business Leaders". Recorded at Internet User Experience 2009 on April 1st, Jim told us the following points:
* Why interaction designers should be the next generation of business leaders inside our companies.
* How traditional "business players" in companies have become commodities.
* Why "the creatives" in companies should step forward and help their companies innovate at the highest levels, not passively remain in the background.
* The danger of being an introvert while "empty megaphones" from other areas may lead your company in non-customer, unauthentic, non-innovative directions.
As a provocatively sincere and friendly revolutionary, Jim tells us about all this and more, including the importance of being "in the moment" with our end users/customers and coworkers.
Manifest Digital is found at
Jim's blog, Everlasting Now, is at
The "mindful walking" exercise Tim mentioned came from his experience at Peaceful Dragon School in Ann Arbor:
Sat, 2 May 2009
At Internet User Experience 2009, Tim Keirnan interviews Dr. Susan Weinschenk about her new book, Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click. How does the human brain process website use, and what can Web design teams do to better design websites for the subconscious as well as conscious mind? Recorded on April 1st, 2009, Dr. Weinschenk provides a brief overview of her book's themes and answers Tim's questions from her presentation earlier that day.
Dr. Weinschenk's website for the book is
Make sure you visit the Fun Stuff tab to find her podcast and blog!
Susan works at Human Factors International, which you can find at
Finally, Deanna wrote to tell listeners about Zero Ink, an innovation for printing full color without the need for ink because the paper contains the colors. There's a contest ongoing for all you print design professionals at
Tue, 21 April 2009
This is the first episode in a series wherein host Tim and listener/volunteer Colin redesign the blog page for the show at www.DesignCritique.net. Our process for this "case study in the making" is:
1. Colin designs a new look and feel using only his impressions as a long-time listener of the show, with no input from "the client" (Tim). Tim wants to see what Colin would do without any input from "the client".
2. Colin interviews Tim to ask questions he normally would ask a new client (this here episode, in fact) regarding branding opportunities for and background of Design Critique.
3. Colin iterates his "client-free" design based on what he learns in this interview.
4. Tim, still not having seen Colin's first two designs, tells Colin his own goals for the new blog page, including both big picture concept and nitpicking details.
5. Colin creates a design based only on Tim's (the client's) needs.
6. Tim views all three designs, which will be shared with the listeners.
7. Colin and Tim debate the merits of the three designs and invite listeners to help evaluate their strengths and weaknesses through several UX methods.
8. A final design is iterated and put into production.
You can find Colin's website at
Sun, 29 March 2009
Tim interviews Sam Ng from New Zealand's own Optimal Usability about the design and development of Optimal Workshop. This UX design suite combines three applications, including OptimalSort which we talked about in DC42, and we hear how a UX research and design consultancy becomes a product developer. What's it like to walk the UX talk we tell our clients when they create products? Listen up and find out!
Optimal Workshop is at
Optimal Usability is at
New Zealand isn't just about cool accents, great UX practitioners, and beautiful sights, though. No sirree. There's a whole tradition of innovative and very top-quality music from this small country at the bottom of the world.
Hear ye! We close this episode with a full song from a great New Zealand musician, Phil Judd. His self-published "Novelty Act" album in 2006 is still the best album Tim has heard in a very long time. Phil Judd co-founded Split Enz in the mid-70s with Tim Finn, was the driving force behind later bands The Swingers and Schnell Fenster, and has done terrific soundtracks as well. "Falling Off A Cloud" is one of Phil's more upbeat numbers, but the amazing "Novelty Act" album is full of classic Judd variety: fun poppy weirdness, hard-rockin' weirdness, sensitive and tragic ukelele weirdness... just catchy, infectiously complex pop genius.
Sat, 28 February 2009
Recorded live at the poster session of Michigan Tech's first World Usability Day event! Tim Keirnan interviewed the student teams about their posters, the projects behind the posters, and the processes they followed to ensure that project deliverables were useful and usable for end users.
The date was November 13, 2008. The place was Michigan Technological University's Memorial Union. Listen to this episode with headphones and feel like you're really there...yep, this episode's in stereo.
Thanks to the students who talked to Design Critique about their projects. Thanks also to Karla Kitalong and the WUD-U.P. volunteers, Bob & Evie Johnson, Chad Esselink, and the Ford Motor Company.
Finally, here's the Wikipedia entry on Yogi Berra, whom listener Brian in Colorado mentioned in his email.
Sat, 21 February 2009
Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus joins Tim Keirnan to discuss the upcoming Internet User Experience 2009 conference. IUE2009 will be held March 31 through April 2, 2009, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Visit the conference website for details at
Tue, 20 January 2009
Brian Matt, founder and CEO of product innovation firm Altitude, Inc., joins Timothy Keirnan for a discussion of how Altitude designed the award-winning Worksite Radio for DeWalt.
You can find Altitude here:
DeWalt DW911 Worksite Radio/Charger links include the following:
Recorded October 14th, 2008.
Tue, 6 January 2009
Tim Keirnan interviews Jeff Patton at User Interface 13 in Cambridge, MA, on October 15th, 2008, after Jeff's full-day seminar "Bringing User-Centered Design Practices Into Agile Development Projects".
You can find Jeff at
We conclude with email from Jan in Germany, Francisco in Portugal, and Andy from England. You can learn about UXLondon at
Finally, Jan's video blog, IA Television, is here:
Thanks to User Interface Engineering for sponsoring this particular episode.
Wed, 31 December 2008
Thanks for listening to Design Critique over the past year. 2008 was fun and I have three episodes in post-production right now for 2009. The photo is from the holiday card I sent this December to family and friends, and I thought why not share it with the listeners. I don't know who all of you are or where you are, but I appreciate that you're out there. I wish a useful, usable, and enjoyable new year to all of you.
Category:general -- posted at: 5:34pm EST
Tue, 25 November 2008
Tim Keirnan interviews Dana Chisnell at User Interface 13 on October 14th, 2008, regarding her presentation "The Quick, the Cheap, and the Insightful: Conducting Usability Tests in the Wild".
Dana is coauthor of "The Handbook of Usability Testing 2nd Edition" with Jeff Rubin.
Plus we have email from Aydincan in Turkey, from Cecil about shaving and the Twinplex Stropper, and from Jorg on Amazon's new frustration-free packaging:
Thanks to User Interface Engineering for sponsoring this particular episode.
Sun, 2 November 2008
Karen Bachmann joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion of the UX Watercooler, a new online community for anyone interested in User Experience research and design. Please check it out at:
Listener emails about shaving UX conclude this episode.
Don't forget World Usability Day on Thursday, November 13th! Learn more about the world-wide learning celebration at:
Tue, 7 October 2008
Ginny Redish joins Tim Keirnan and SpecialSecretSuperSurprise Guest Cohost for a freewheeling discussion of her newest book Letting Go Of The Words: Writing Web Content That Works. Ginny's ground-breaking career, books, presentations, and many articles have been very influential on Tim's and Cohost's professional development in user experience research and design.
You can find Ginny's website at http://www.redish.net/
Ginny's other two books that Tim mentioned were:
User and Task Analysis for Interface Design (with JoAnn Hackos)
A Practical Guide to Usability Testing (with Joe Dumas)
Karen Bachman wrote to tell us about the UX Watercooler at
Fri, 19 September 2008
Attention all shavers everywhere: it's a shaving razor user experience extravaganza! Tim Keirnan is joined by four count 'em FOUR co-hosts in this special extended edition of Design Critique. Mike Beasley, Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus, John Rivard, and Rodney Hampton donate their time, their insights, their humor, and their razors to a freewheeling discussion of razor design.
Wed, 20 August 2008
Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering joins Timothy Keirnan to talk about designing the user experience of a conference. Jared has attended many conferences, presented at many conferences, and hosted many conferences. Themes discussed include:
* Designing the user experience for the attendees
* Designing the user experience for the presenters
* What Jared looks for in a conference facility
* The importance of food at a conference
* The importance of audiovisual resources
* Presenters' own obligation to ensure a good user experience for their session attendees
User Interface Engineering will host User Interface 13 this October in Cambridge, MA. See details at
If you are hosting a conference related to user experience research and design, tell us about it by clicking the Send Email To The Show link at the top left of the DesignCritique.net blog page.
Thu, 17 July 2008
On the 3rd anniversary of Design Critique, Dr. Paul Green joins Timothy Keirnan for a wordcast episode on Human Factors Engineering. What is it, how does it contribute to user experience research and design, and how do people get trained in it?
Dr. Green is incoming president of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society. You can find them at
At the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Dr. Green is a research professor in UMTRI's Human Factors Division. You can find UMTRI at
The websites for ACM SIGCHI and UPA are at
www.sigchi.org and www.upassoc.org
The Bad Designs On Campus awards can be found at
The 50th Anniversary issue of the Human Factors Journal is at
The Human Factors Short Course is at
Finally, two books we mentioned were
Introduction to Human Factors Engineering (2nd Edition) by Wickens, Lee, Liu, and Gordon-Becker
Set Phases On Stun: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error by Casey
Check out my interview with Paul Green on usability in driving.
Thanks to all listeners for a great third year and for telling others about Design Critique. I hope I can make the fourth year as varied and interesting.
Sat, 14 June 2008
Dana Chisnell joins Tim Keirnan to discuss the 2nd edition of the classic Handbook of Usability Testing, which she coauthored with Jeff Rubin.
Join us for the launch party at UPA this year.
822 Lancaster Street,
Baltimore, MD 21202
June 18, 5:30-7:30
The new Dumas and Loring book that Dana referred to is titled Moderating Usability Tests. The other book Dana mentioned was The Practical Guide To Usability Testing by Dumas and Redish.
Here's the link to Dana's book on publisher Wiley's website:
Here's the supplemental files link Dana mentioned in the interview:
You can learn more about Dana at
Finally, we have feedback from listeners Geoff and Brian. Don't forget the UPA conference if you can possibly join us.
Sun, 18 May 2008
Talk about a longitudinal review: 12 years and over 273K miles! Tim Keirnan offers a single-point perspective on owning his Saturn SC2 coupe, which Saturn iterated to a point of near-perfection for Tim's car needs back in 1996. Saturn "refreshed" the model from 1997 onwards and it was never the same. Mechanic Jake Huey and automotive human factors engineer Ken Mayer join Tim inside and outside the car for a thorough discussion of Saturn's innovative designs for the 1996 SC2.
Sat, 19 April 2008
Timothy Keirnan interviews Andy Budd, author of CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions and creative director of Clearleft, a user experience design consultancy in Brighton, England.
Andy and Tim discuss the following items:
* Giving site builders wireframes and prototypes instead of text-intensive design specifications.
* How guerilla usability testing fits into the user experience design process and how it may offer more value than big-budget summative testing.
* Where Andy will be speaking across England, New Zealand, and Australia over the next several weeks.
* The value of attending small or large professional conferences and how Clearleft designs its annual d.Construct conference.
You can see Andy at the following conferences over the next few weeks:
One of Tim's favorite professional books is the oldie-but-goodie Interface Design: The Art of Developing Easy-to-Use Software by Peter Bickford. You can find used copies of this out-of-print gem easily enough online.
Clearleft is at www.clearleft.com
Andy mentioned Silverback and you can learn about it at
Andy mentioned "bar camps":
And finally, you can learn more about the annual D.Construct conference at
Wed, 26 March 2008
They're back! In part 2 of our wordcast episode on card sorts, recorded mid-December of 2007, Tim Keirnan, Larry Rusinsky, and Chris Farnum discuss conducting the sort, what we might do with the data afterwards, and what the end result of the card sort can be. We also mention the following applications that can help you do card sorts:
Optimal Sort (www.optimalsort.com)
Card Zort (www.cardzort.com)
Web Sort (www.websort.net)
Here's another one:
The websites Tim and Chris mention during one of the occasional side discussions are:
Note how the Mini Cooper website for the United States differs from the Canadian one. Interesting how a company assigns different content and structure to one audience versus another.
Don't forget Internet User Experience 2008 to be held next week:
Email from listener Dan completes the episode.
Sun, 16 March 2008
Return of the wordcast! Timothy Keirnan was joined by Chris Farnum and Larry Rusinsky back in December 2007 for a discussion about card sorts. What are they, why do user experience professionals use them, and how are they sometimes done?
Mixed in with some theory is a lot of practitioner anecdotes--so much so that we divided this wordcast into two parts. Without getting into more exotic card sort methods, there was plenty of discussion to go around.
In part two, the cohosts will discuss tools for doing card sorts online, analyzing the data from card sorts, plus even more anecdotes.
Thu, 21 February 2008
Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus joins Timothy Keirnan for a discussion on the value of attending professional conferences, using the upcoming Internet User Experience 2008 conference as an example.
Dave began IUE as a modest two-day combination of presentations and tutorials, but careful listening to customers has led to a much larger and diverse conference over the years. Tim and Dave discuss definitions and purposes of:
The website for Internet User Experience 2008 is
Tim closes with advice for students: attend conferences while they are cheap for you due to student discounts. Learn, network, and have fun while you still have that student ID.
Mon, 28 January 2008
At User Interface 12, Timothy Keirnan interviews Kim Goodwin, Vice President and General Manager of Cooper, on November 7th, 2007. Kim's presentations at User Interface 12 were "Integrating Design In Your Organization" and "Essentials Of Interaction Design".
Points discussed include:
* Gardening as a metaphor for introducing improved design processes into an organization
* How the folks at Cooper define "design"
* Kim's advice to isolated practitioners who are attempting to improve the design processes at their workplace, and how to maintain focus when your efforts start succeeding!
* Abundance thinking versus scarcity thinking, and the need for taking risks when trying to innovate
The books written by Alan Cooper are About Face and The Inmates Are Running The Asylum.
You can find Cooper's website at
After the 15 minute interview, Tim concludes the episode with some feedback received from listeners.
Special thanks to User Interface Engineering (www.uie.com) for making this episode possible by sponsoring Design Critique at UI12.
Wed, 12 December 2007
While taking a short break from our UI12 conference interview series, Alan Sygrove joins Timothy Keirnan for a longitudinal review of Logitech's mm50 iPod portable speaker system. As well as making incisive comments about the mm50, Alan compares Design Critique to My Dinner With Andre.
We also have some terrific feedback email from Eric, Brian, and Jesse. Season's greetings to all you Design Critique listeners out there! If you want to get us a present here at Design Critique, we could use some more reviews about the show, either at the iTunes Music Store or anyplace else. Tell why you listen and what you want more of.
Here are some links to some other (older) reviews of the mm50 with more pictures (Logitech doesn't have a page for it on their site anymore since the Pure Fi Anywhere succeeded the mm50):
And here's Logitech's page for the mm50's successor, the Pure Fi Anywhere:
Sun, 18 November 2007
Timothy Keirnan interviews Gerry McGovern at User Interface 12 on November 5th, 2007, immediately after Gerry's all-day seminar called How To Design A Task-Based Information Architecture: Essential Tips For Creating Customer-Centric Websites.
Points discussed include:
* "Words drive behavior." Getting the right words is crucial to developing good Web content.
* Task-centric is customer-centric. Correct wording is essential to being customer-centric.
* The opposite of customer-centric is organization-centric. Organization-centric websites are not very helpful to customers.
* People often come to the Web to learn or to do something. So, design for impatience. Are your customers able to quickly and simply complete their tasks?
* Advertising often treats customers like Pavlov's dogs. Many Web users see through manipulative ads and instead want useful knowledge that conveys something authentic about the good or service they're after. Most ads are not perceived as authentically representing a good or service.
NOTE: When Tim says "marketing" in this interview, he should have said "advertising". It was a terrific but long day :-)
You can find Gerry's website at
Gerry's most recent book is Killer Web Content at
Special thanks to User Interface Engineering (www.uie.com) for making this episode possible by sponsoring Design Critique at UI12.
Mon, 22 October 2007
Tim interviews Mike Beasley, President of the Usability Professionals Association Michigan chapter, about the upcoming World Usability Day 2007. Also, UIE's User Interface 12 conference is rapidly approaching and Tim will be there. Finally, the MSU School of Packaging answers listener Tom's question about episode 35.
World Usability Day's URL is
UIE's User Interface 12 Conference URL is
House Band Peter Grey sings Nothing. (Which is exactly what we have left as far as songs from Peter for future episodes.)
Fri, 5 October 2007
Tim interviews David Chmura, Chief Instigator of Humble Daisy, Inc., about the design of both Humble Daisy (the company) and ProfCast (the application). This episode has three parts:
1. HumbleDaisy's vision, structure, and culture as a truly user-centered company.
2. ProfCast, the presentation recording application.
3. The design process Humble Daisy used to create ProfCast.
See ProfCast at www.ProfCast.com
See HumbleDaisy at www.HumbleDaisy.com
The book Getting Real that Tim refers to is at
Listener Rachel mentioned Beau Brummel in her email to the show.
We close with a brief discussion of the band XTC, source of both Humble Daisy's name and a lot of good music. Tim's favorite XTC songs are Knuckle Down and Snowman, both from English Settlement. Dave loves the band too much to have a favorite song, but prefers their Skylarking album above most of the others. What is your favorite XTC song? Email the show from the designcritique.net home page and tell us. See XTC's website at
Peter Grey, where are you? Our house band seems to have disappeared.
Tue, 18 September 2007
Virtually all products, from food to electronics, come in some type of packaging. Who designs the customer experience of packaging and how? Join Tim on his visit to the Michigan State University School of Packaging.
The school's website is www.packaging.msu.edu.
Addresses for Dr. Bix, Joe, and Javier are as follows (remove spaces and exchange AT for @ before sending):
Dr. Bix: bixlaura AT msu.edu
Javier: cjd AT msu.edu
Joe: fairjose AT msu.edu
Rousseau is a psychologist who does warning research. A citation
for one of his publications is:
Rousseau, G. K., N. Lamson, et al. (1998). "Designing Warnings to Compensate for Age-Related Changes in Perceptual and Cognitive Abilities." Psychology & Marketing 15(7): 643-662.
Kea told us about the MX East conference in Philadelphia this October:
Serendipity strikes! Fast Company magazine's article on the new Barbie packaging is here:
Sun, 26 August 2007
Tim and Tom are joined by returning guest Serena Rosenhan for a critique of Panasonic's NI-553R clothes iron. What did people in olden times use for ironing and how does the design of the modern-day NI-553R support the task? The gang discusses the merits of the design as well as problems found during its use, and reflects on the classic trade-off of convenience versus safety.
Also, email messages from Jorg and from house band Peter Grey, plus a startling revelation from Tom. We close with an absurd Bea Arthur song (Good Night, But Not Goodbye) from the infamous 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, wherein she sang it to the cantina patrons (Peter Grey, please send us some more music so we aren't tempted to do this again). Listeners will understand the relevance, such as it is.
Photos of the iron's user interface can be viewed at www.designcritique.net. The album art for the actual MP3 file of this episode has a different photo we hope you will enjoy. You may want to extract the photo file from the MP3 to see it clearly, print it, put it on your refrigerator, etc.
Tue, 17 July 2007
For Design Critique's 2nd anniversary episode, Tim and Tom are joined by Jared Spool from User Interface Engineering. Jared shares some of UIE's recent research such as:
+ How UIE thinks user researchers should hold back on giving recommendations, but instead share the observations with the team and let them generate their own recommendations.
+ How UIE thinks user research is an important skill, but usability professionals are not necessary.
+ How UIE thinks usability labs are a senseless waste of glass and wood, instead preferring any ole' conference room.
Tim and Tom share insights from their own experience regarding Jared's points, and numerous similes and metaphors abound. A certain amount of whackiness ensues.
Rolf Molich, whom Jared mentions, can be found at www.dialogdesign.dk/cue.html.
Lisa Battle, whom Tim mentions, can be found at www.designforcontext.com.
User Interface Engineering is at www.uie.com.
It's been a great two years! Tim and Tom would like to thank all the listeners for downloading the episodes, telling others about Design Critique, and sending us such fascinating feedback.
Tue, 26 June 2007
In a special episode recorded on location, Tom Diab, proprietor of the Gourmet Chocolate Cafe in Chelsea, Michigan, shares his ideas on customer experience design for cafes. Through a bonanza of entertaining storytelling, Tom, a former schoolteacher and drug rep for Pfizer, tells Tim and guest cohost Chris how he and his wife decided to open a cafe, how they found a location, the design choices they made for the physical spaces and menus and goods offered, and why small businesses can innovate better than corporate competitors.
Some of Tom's ideas include: Design for your customers, not yourself; test your designs with customers before implementing; creatively balance the needs of child-free patrons with parent patrons to provide an ambience for all; co-advertise with competitors; organic design iteration is good; invest in your customers' community and you will be rewarded in the long term. You'll hear conceptual references to field research, usability testing, and participatory design throughout Tom's narrative.
The website for the Gourmet Chocolate Cafe may be found at www.gourmetchocolatecafe.com, but this episode is not about websites--it's about the brick and mortar experience of cafes. Tim is a "power user" of the Gourmet Chocolate Cafe and Chris provided the "newbie" perspective. Make sure you watch the video tour in Design Critique episode 32a to see the design features we discuss in this interview.
This episode's content has been certified 100 percent iPhone-free by the Design Critique Anti-Hype League of America.
Tue, 26 June 2007
Before you listen to episode 32b, which is an interview with the Gourmet Chocolate Cafe's designer and proprietor, please watch this ten-minute video tour of the cafe. Tim points out key features of the cafe that are discussed during the following interview about the customer experience design of the cafe.
The following free software can play this MPEG-4 video file.
VLC Media Player for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux:
QuickTime Player for Macintosh and Windows:
Sun, 27 May 2007
Folks, here is the new email address you can use to send us feedback. Besides typing the address into your email client, you can also click the "Send email to Tim & Tom!" link in the upper left corner of the www.designcritique.net blog page. As of this posting, the old email address for Design Critique is defunct. Outta here. Gone with the wind. You get the picture.
Thu, 24 May 2007
Tim and Tom catch up on email sent by listeners over the past ten months. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with kind words or questions or observations, whether we read them on air or not.
Jason's link to the atomic time watch:
John's response to our Information Architecture wordcast:
Ben's designs for rice cookers in response to our rice cooker critique:
Colin's designs for airport seating:
Andy's mention of the 2007 dConstruct conference happening in September:
Tim's mention of the soon-to-be-happening international UPA conference:
And Mark sent a link to his free text-to-speech converter website that Tim checked
out and liked:
Tim also liked Mark's interview on WebAxe this past March:
Fri, 27 April 2007
Watch Tim and Tom at World Usability Day 2006 on the campus of Michigan State University. In part 2 of 2, Tom concludes his discussion on the usability and accessibility of podcasts. Then the guys answer questions from the audience.
The following free software can play this MPEG-4 video file.
VLC Media Player for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux:
QuickTime Player for Macintosh and Windows:
Wed, 25 April 2007
Watch Tim and Tom at World Usability Day 2006 on the campus of Michigan State University. In part 1 of 2, Tim relates Design Critique's origin and purpose, and issues a call for more user experience-related podcasts. Tom begins his discussion on the usability and accessibility of podcasts themselves. Part 2 should be up in another day or so.
The following free software can play this MPEG-4 video file.
VLC Media Player for Macintosh, Windows, and Linux:
QuickTime Player for Macintosh and Windows:
Tech stuff: We got a miniDV copy from the original DVCAM master and have tried to balance resolution (which was a bit grainy from our miniDV copy) with file size constraints. And Tim's eight hours per one hour of Design Critique ratio includes all aspects of production, including photography and music file preparation as well as editing down the raw recording, plus test listens.
Mon, 23 April 2007
Incoming! This is our introduction to Episode 30, which is going to be a video episode that we publish in two parts to try and keep file sizes down. Expect it over the next couple days. If your podcatcher is set to automatically download new Design Critique episodes, and if you don't want two 80MB files coming down whatever Internet connection you use, now is your chance to reset your download preferences for this show. Thanks for listening (and, in this case, watching).
Tim and Tom
Direct download: Introduction_to_upcoming_episode_30_a_video_that_will_be_posted_in_two_parts.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:13pm EST
Mon, 19 March 2007
Tim and Tom discuss the Speaking of Software project at Michigan Tech and interview professors Chuck Wallace, Bob Johnson, and Ann Brady about improving the training of software engineers at the undergraduate level. If you're an educator or industry professional curious about innovations in teaching software engineering, this episode is for you.
Before you listen to the interview, we encourage you to read the article as published in Technical Communication, Volume 53, Number 3, August 2006, pp. 317-325. Unfortunately, the Society for Technical Communication does not sell this article online. If you do not subscribe to the journal, check a local college library or read the draft at
Ann, Bob, and Chuck would like to hear from you. Replace [AT] with the @ sign (and eliminate spaces on either side) to send them email at the addresses below.
Ann: mabrady [AT] mtu.edu
Bob: rrjohnso [AT] mtu.edu
Chuck: wallace [AT] mtu.edu
The project's website (and this summer's Chautauqua invitation) is at
Read some history of the Chautauqua Movement at
Read Tim's original interview with Bob at the start of the Speaking of Software project two years ago: http://www.miupa.org/bjohnson_interview.html
House band Peter Grey sings "This One" to round things out.
Sat, 24 February 2007
Tim and Tom critique rice cooker designs. Cookers from Oster, Aroma, and Panasonic are discussed. As always, you can find pictures of the user interfaces critiqued at www.designcritique.net (as well as in the artwork for this MP3 file).
Jen's "InTheNo" podcast can be found at 1000TimesNo.net. Everybody head over there pronto to hear one of the best new podcasts ever. In her own words, "...we speak with people whose experiences give them an interesting perspective on what happens, and what to do, when life confronts you with 'No.' As many of our guests will tell you, 'No' is often just the beginning of the story."
Cashew the Clown can be found at www.cashewtheclown.com.
House band Peter Grey sings "Without My Girl".
Sun, 31 December 2006
What happens when a secondary function of a product is so good that it becomes the primary reason for purchase among a customer demographic? Tim is joined by special guests Mike and Keith for a discussion of iRiver's IFP-800 (top of photo) and IFP-700 series (bottom) of digital audio players/recorders. iRiver designed the MP3 recording for these units so well that many people use them purely as portable MP3 recorders, not players.
iRiver also created two form factors for one product with the IFP series, so we discuss each industrial designs' relative merits. As always, you can find pictures of the designs discussed at
www.designcritique.net (Note: the wide angle lens made the 700 look wider than the 800. It isn't.)
Colorado Video Impressions is at www.coloradovid.com.
Mystic River is at www.misticriver.net.
Hydrogen Audio is at www.hydrogenaudio.org.
Mon, 27 November 2006
Tim and Tom are joined by guest Chris Farnum for a wordcast episode about Information Architecture. What is it, where did it come from, and how does IA contribute to a great customer experience?
While presenting at Michigan's World Usability Day event, Tim and Tom met Dennis and Ross from the podcast WebAxe, which deals with web accessibility. Take a listen by going to
Lastly, house band Peter Grey sings Sweet Unknown. And in addition to Edward Tufte's books, here are the books and authors mentioned in this episode:
* Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld
*Usability for the Web: Designing Web Sites that Work by Tom Brinck, Darren Gergle, and Scott D. Wood
*How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built by Stewart Brand
* The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
Sat, 4 November 2006
Tim and Tom interview Carissa and Carol from Menlo Innovations. Menlo recently completed a user interface design project for the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department in Michigan, and observing users in the context of their work environnment was crucial to the design process.
Tim reminds listeners about World Usability Day coming up on Tuesday, November 14th, and Peter Grey sings Frozen Girl.
Menlo's website is at http://www.menloinnovations.com/
World Usability Day news is at www.worldusabilityday.org
Sun, 15 October 2006
Guest Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus joins Tim to promote World Usability Day 2006 while Tom takes care of business in an undisclosed location. Just like MacArthur, Tom shall return.
Dave describes what Michigan did on the first World Usability Day in 2005, then tells us what's coming up on November 14th, 2006. Tim and Dave encourage listeners to check out the World Usability Day website at
to learn which WUD events will occur in their areas all around the world. For those of you who may not live near an event, webcasts will be available from many of them.
Finally, house band Peter Grey performs Lagrimas--it's dark, brooding, and hauntingly appropriate for the Halloween season.
P.S. Check out Gerry's UXpod episode about World Usability Day at www.uxpod.com.
Fri, 29 September 2006
Tim and Tom are joined by guest Larry for a critique of alarm clock designs. As always, how a product meets each user's habits, needs, and wants determines whether a design is successful. Tim, Tom, and Larry haven't had much luck with bedside alarm clocks, including models from Panasonic, GE, and Sony that they have owned for years and years. But they do have some fun discussions on what makes a good alarm clock design.
CONGRATULATIONS to Larry and his bride, Marci, who were married a month after this episode was recorded. Tim and Tom wish them many healthy years of marital bliss surrounded by well-designed wedding gifts.
NOTE: The GE model is the subject of this episode's artwork. Also, Tim accidentally threw out the articles discussed in this episode during a frenzy of autumn cleaning and thus cannot provide article links in these show notes.
Sun, 10 September 2006
Tim and Tom discuss the origin, design, and use of wristwatches. Due to their function as fashion accessories as well as timepieces, wristwatch designs are extraordinarily diverse. The guys discuss very different examples from their personal collections, and Tim fondly reminisces about the most usable feature he ever had in a watch: tritium backlighting, which required no power and no button-pressing to use.
And here's a tangentially related article about the percentage of left-handed people in various cultures. Interesting how it varies so widely...email us if you have a theory or a comment on designing for this segment of a population.
Wed, 23 August 2006
Whitney Quesenbery of Whitney Interactive Design joins Tim and Tom for a wordcast episode on the plain language movement. Language is a crucial part of most user interface designs, from hardware, to software, to websites, to that oldest of interfaces, the printed page. What is plain language and how can it help us design more usable communication for products and services? Professions, companies, and governments should embrace plain language to communicate effectively with their customers, employees, and citizens. Websites we mention include:
After our half-hour discussion, Tim promotes Gerry Gaffney's excellent User Experience Podcast. Congratulations, Gerry! Everyone go listen!
Next, Tim reads listener feedback from John at the Smorgasbord Design blog regarding Sennheiser's admirable commitment to superior customer experience. Sennheiser, Design Critique salutes you!
Last but never least, house band Peter Grey sings Without My Girl.
Sun, 6 August 2006
Join us for a solo perspective on Tom's new MacBook, a.k.a. "Bigfoot"! Losing tiny rubber feet at the bottom corners may be a thing of the past, thanks to wider, flush-mounted feet. But wait, there's more...
We don't talk about the MacBook's new Intel processor, perceived speed, or included software in this episode--just its industrial design, which is so impressive that it deserves its own episode. Lest you think we're Apple apologists, let it be known this episode was delayed several weeks due to the MacBook's hard drive failing two days after Tom received it, and a very sluggish repair period on Apple's part.
FYI, solo perspective episodes occur when one of us cannot lend a product to the other for "mission critical" reasons. This is Tom's new primary computer, and he reflects on the continuous improvement of Apple's laptop designs. (Tim still prefers his 12" PowerBook G4 for portability.)
Finally, Peter Grey, our house band, sings Sweet Unknown.
Sun, 23 July 2006
Design Critique celebrates its first anniversary! Yep, pretty much. Last summer we were recording the first episodes of the show, talking about user-centered design and relating it to our critiques of product designs. In this episode, Tim and Tom provide a retrospective on the show's first year, and present updates on several of the first 18 episodes. You were wondering how those products we critiqued have been serving us many months later, right? We put the "long" in longitudinal reviews! Thanks to all of you for listening and sending us feedback. And, for your musical edification, house band Peter Grey sings "Watercolors".
Sun, 9 July 2006
Fresh from the terrific 2006 UPA conference, Tim shares two interviews we know you'll enjoy. First, Tim talks with Giles Colborne, President of the UK UPA chapter. What does the UK UPA chapter do and how does it operate?
Next, Tim engages Daniel Szuc from Apogee Usability Asia Ltd. in a freewheeling discussion about usability and Hong Kong.
Between interviews, Tim and Tom solicit invitations to the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand, all the while wondering about lines of longitude and the International Date Line. Finally, house band Peter Grey sings Bright Black (Whiskey Song) for us.
To find a Usability Professionals Association chapter near you, head on over to www.upassoc.org/chapters/.
Mon, 26 June 2006
Tim, Tom, and guest Jack complete their critique of iTunes 6.0.4. In part 2, Jack shares more great insights, Tim damns iTunes with faint praise, and Tom shares his iTunes fantasies--almost had us concerned there for a moment, but not to worry. After the chatter, house band Peter Grey sings the mesmerizing My Strange Friend.
Thu, 1 June 2006
Tim and Tom are joined by guest colleague Jack for a critique of iTunes 6, the current version of Apple's popular music jukebox software. What does iTunes do well and how could it be improved in its next version? Jack provides a refreshing Windows perspective on music software apps that aren't available for OSX, listener Jennifer recommends book recommender system Library Thing at www.librarything.com, Tom tells all about the recent ACM SIGCHI conference, and an impressively loud helicopter has the nerve to interrupt Tim's promotion of the upcoming UPA conference (makes Design Critique sound like a Pink Floyd album for a minute).
All this plus a break for our regular house band so that the guys from www.OK-Cancel.com can sing their HCI rap song We Got It. Check out their website, too!
Tue, 16 May 2006
Tim and Tom interview Stephanie Rosenbaum, founder and president of Tec-Ed, Inc., in her Michigan office. Since the late 1960s, Stephanie and her company have helped clients make products easier for customers to use.
The interview topic is categories of return on investment for user-centered design. Be sure to read the full chapter on it that Stephanie co-wrote with Chauncey Wilson in the second edition of Cost-Justifying Usability, ISBN 0-12-095811-2.
Also, the international conference for the Usability Professionals Association is coming up in June. You can learn more about it at www.upassoc.org.
Finally, our house band, Peter Grey, sings To Edgar.
Sun, 30 April 2006
Tim and Tom, along with guest colleague Dan, continue their critique of recommender systems that began in Design Critique episode 13. Tom starts things rolling by asking Tim why he prefers not to use recommender systems, then Dan and Tom discuss their use of Last.FM and its recommender system. A summary of our customer experience with recommender systems ties things off, mockery of Lionel Richie music ensues, and house band Peter Grey sings PsychoActive.
Wed, 19 April 2006
Tim and Tom are joined by guest colleague Dan for a critique of recommender systems on Amazon.com, Netflix, and Last.FM. How well do these "if you like x, you'll also like Y" systems work after short and long-term usage? How can they be improved?
Plus, Tom talks about attending the upcoming ACM SIGCHI conference and house band Peter Grey sings Frozen Girl.
Fri, 31 March 2006
Tim and Tom are joined by guest colleague Serena for a wordcast episode on User-Centered Design (UCD). What is UCD, where did it originate, and how can it help you improve customer experience with a product? We discuss some theory, numerous UCD methods, Robert Johnson's book User-Centered Technology, and Wired magazine's recent story on participatory design at Lego. House band Peter Grey sings Girl From Outer Space.
Mon, 13 March 2006
Tim & Tom respond to the first batch of listener feedback. How much technical detail do listeners want in addition to the user experience and general product design principle discussed? House band Peter Grey sings Santa Fe.
Mon, 27 February 2006
Live from Internet User Experience 2006, Tim & Tom interview friend and fellow usability professional Keith Instone about his work with User Experience Network . What is UXnet, and what do they want from us? How about this: "UXnet was formed to help make connections between the people and organizations that represent User Experience disciplines, and to encourage interchange and cooperation." Sounds good to us. In a field so widely interdisciplinary, we could use a big tent like UXnet to convene under. Attend the tale of UXnet! Plus, house band Peter Grey sings Perfect Match.
Tue, 14 February 2006
Sometimes even a company known for innovative products and good designs runs into trouble. After the guys reflect on their respective photography experiences (Tim likes SLRs, Tom's a point & shoot man), Tom facilitates Tim's grieving process over the closing of Minolta's camera division. In the midst of the death of a beloved brand, at least we can celebrate what Minolta did right. The John Dvorak column about Minolta that Tim mentions is at www.pcmag.com/article2/0%2C1895%2C1914810%2C00.asp
Thu, 26 January 2006
It's fun critiquing good product designs--and this one tastes good, too. Tim & Tom are impressed with the design of the Breadman TR555LC bread machine, but that doesn't stop them from encouraging innovation in the bread machine market space. Tim's sister lends a 3rd perspective on bread machines (she prefers baking bread by hand), Tom gives recipes away, Tim promotes Internet User Experience 2006 coming this February to the great American midwest, and house band Peter Grey sings "Color You".
Sun, 8 January 2006
Join Tim and Tom for a discussion on progressive disclosure, an interface design technique seen in hardware, software, and web pages. What is it, how is it best used, and how should it NOT be used? Plus: Tom says Queen Elizabeth II has never used a computer...Tim wants his own situation room...and closing song "Face In The Mirror" by Peter Grey.
Mon, 19 December 2005
Special holiday episode! Good online shopping requires a usable website and prompt customer service. Tim and Tom discuss their experiences with CCMusic.com, website for legendary merchant Collector's Choice Music. A terrific print catalog does not automatically translate into a terrific website--what do they do well and what needs help? PLUS the show's email address is revealed, an interview with a special guest from the North Pole gets out of hand, and house band Peter Grey sings of peace and love. Season's greetings and lots of luck to you and yours in the new year.
Thu, 1 December 2005
Time to respond to feedback from our audience. What the--?! There isn't any! Feedback, that is. There still isn't an email address for the podcast. We promise there will be soon. Hey, it's a work in progress.
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:58pm EST
Thu, 3 November 2005
You don't have to look like you're waving in planes at the airport to enjoy good headphone sound. This is another single point perspective, where only one person has experience with the product. In this case, Tim couldn't bear to live even a week without his PX-100 headphones, but he allows Tom to at least try them on during the show. What makes a great headphone design? It isn't only about audio quality and price. New word: cosmesis... Funny stories about cords... Another song from the house band... Email address coming soon!
Sun, 2 October 2005
Occasionally, Design Critique features a single-point perspective on a product because the other guy isn't able to borrow it long enough to be thorough. Such is the case with Tom's cyclometers, exercise computers for bicycles. Tom can't lend his bike to Tim for a month or more, but he can explain what cyclometers do, how they do it, and why he prefers one to the other. Learn along with Tim about these handy gadgets. What makes a good cyclometer design? Also, more music from our "house band".
Tue, 6 September 2005
In our first "word of the day"-type show, Tom brings us the infamous term Luddite. Is there such a thing as a neo-Luddite? Tim hazily yet fondly recalls Neil Postman's classic book Technopoly and its warnings against technological determinism. Is your life enhanced or hindered by technology? We all have choices. Finally, the Design Critique "house band" makes its debut.
Wed, 3 August 2005
Tim and Tom review the Apple iPod Shuffle. Tim explains Design Critique's "longitudinal review" approach. After we praise the Shuffle's strong design points, Tim rages against MP3 players' tendency to insert gaps of silence between tracks that are seamless on compact disc. The righteous indignation continues as we discuss customer experience with regard to digital rights management. Is the music industry at war with its own customers? Hold onto your hats, folks...
Thu, 7 July 2005
Tim and Tom debate the merits of the Sony Shower CD Radio, model ICF-CD73V. Topics include the difficulty of designing for a complex audience, and the need for buffers in electronics so they remember things like: point last played on a CD, their settings when batteries are changed, and a few seconds of music to compensate for bump-induced skips during playback.