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Critique: Logitech mm50 iPod Speaker System

Photos of mm50 user interface

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:

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Interview: Gerry McGovern at User Interface 12

Cover of Gerry's new book

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 ( for making this episode possible by sponsoring Design Critique at UI12.

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WUD2007, UI12, and More Packaging Design

World Usability Day logo for 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.)

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Interview: ProfCast and Software Design at Humble Daisy, Inc.

ProfCast logo

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
See HumbleDaisy at

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 home page and tell us. See XTC’s website at

Peter Grey, where are you? Our house band seems to have disappeared.

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Interview: Designing the Customer Experience of Product Packaging

Table of packaging design matrix

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

Addresses for Dr. Bix, Joe, and Javier are as follows (remove spaces and exchange AT for @ before sending):
Dr. Bix: bixlaura AT
Javier: cjd AT
Joe: fairjose AT

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:

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Critique: Panasonic Clothes Iron

Montage of user interface photos of the Panasonic iron, plus Tim and Tom farewell comic.

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.

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2nd Anniversary Episode with Jared Spool

Photo of birthday cake w/2 candles burning on it and a Design Critique album art on top of the frosting.

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

Lisa Battle, whom Tim mentions, can be found at

User Interface Engineering is at

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.

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Interview: Cafe Design with Tom Diab

Photo of the cafe front.

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, 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.

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Video Tour of Gourmet Chocolate Cafe

Photo of the cafe front.

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:

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Mailbag Episode #2

Icon of an envelope

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:

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