Recent Posts

Interview: Using List Building to Start Your UX Freelancing Career with Jonathan Tilley

Jonathan Tilley, voiceover professional, joins Tim Keirnan for a discussion on how user experience professionals can find freelancing opportunities, either full or part time.

This episode is about designing one’s career instead of designing a digital or hardware experience, and closes with a discussion of how college students could use list building to find an internship or first job.

Jonathan’s websites are:

Audiophiles take note: As a professional voiceover artist, Jonathan already sounds good. His choice of the Neumann TLM 103 microphone is why his good voice sounds so amazing in this Skype recording with Tim. There is no additional processing on Jonathan’s voice. What you hear is his voice through the proximity effect of a magnificent and expensive-but-worth-it cardiod mic.

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Interview: HFES 2014 Conference Report

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!

Link to HFES2014 twitter hashtag:

We also read email from listeners Costan (about GPS unit designs) and Reed (about interactive voice response systems).

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Critique: Magellan RoadMate 2230T-LM GPS

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 strengths of the Magellan include
* Text entry is spoken by the unit to confirm input
* Dynamic rerouting around traffic problems works well
* Effective use of corners for touch points
* 4.3 inch size is not ungainly as the 5 inch Garmin was

Usability problems with the RoadMate could be summed up as bad color choices in the UI. The garish display and the difficult to read road names, plus general clutter that is unnecessary to help the user, are unfortunate negatives.The update software is also poorly designed and confusing to use.

Melissa Smith joins us for another Human Factors News Desk segment. Citations to follow as soon as I find them…


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Critique: Nokia Lumia 520 and 521 Windows Phone 8

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.
Paul Thurott inspired this episode with his article here:

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.

Yanko, M. R., & Spalek, T. M. (2013). Driving With the Wandering Mind The Effect That Mind-Wandering Has on Driving Performance. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 0018720813495280.

Finally, contributor Costan Boiangiu told us about this article on step stool design, which echoes our 100th Anniversary Episode topic!

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Human Factors Research Summary with Melissa Smith

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.
Learn more about Melissa on her website at

The articles Melissa discusses are:
–Beller, J., Heesen, M., & Vollrath, M. (2013). Improving the Driver–Automation Interaction An Approach Using Automation Uncertainty. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. doi: 10.1177/0018720813482327. []

— Finomore, V. S., Shaw, T. H., Warm, J. S., Matthews, G., & Boles, D. B. (2013). Viewing the Workload of Vigilance Through the Lenses of the NASA-TLX and the MRQ. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. doi: 10.1177/0018720813484498. []

–Goldsmith, K., & Dhar, R. (2013). Negativity bias and task motivation: Testing the effectiveness of positively versus negatively framed incentives. Journal of experimental psychology: applied, 19(4), 358. doi: 10.1037/a0034415. []

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WordCast: Verbal Protocols (Thinking Aloud)

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:
1. Concurrent Verbal Protocol
2. Retrospective Verbal Protocol
3. Interruptive Verbal Protocol
4. Prospective Verbal Protocol

The remainder of the episode covers research on how using concurrent verbal protocol can affect your data. People do not normally think aloud while doing tasks with products, and having them vocalize during user research can change their behavior, but the degree of change may not be a problem for the goals of our studies. Sometimes thinking aloud can improve their performance–which also affects your data. The result is not obvious and the literature is conflicted.

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Critique: Android Phones Longitudinal Reviews of LG Motion and Google Nexus 4

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).

LG Motion:
* Small size easy to hold and put in pocket
* Fast data speeds
* Replaceable battery
* Custom Android user interface by LG that isn’t bad
* Outright purchase from MetroPCS on a monthly, non-contract plan

Nexus 4:
* Large screen easy to read for older eyes and for gamers
* Pentaband GSM radio frequencies ensures it works anywhere in the world
* Pure Android operating system with the UX that Google intended, gets updates instantly from Google as they appear
* Outright purchase from Google at very fair price, can be used on any GSM carrier including monthly, non-contract plans

Listen to the episode for other facets of the customer experience of owning these phones.

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WordCast: User Experience 101

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?
For us, UX is about managing risk on projects by doing our trio of research, design, and testing to ensure products and services will meet business goals. And it’s about taking pride in one’s craft.
Learn more about a foundational book on our user experience research/design/testing careers, Set Phasers on Stun, at

You can learn about ISO standards for usabilty at the wonderful Usability.Net:

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Bad UI Labels Part 1: The Chaos Button

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.

Desiree Scales has a website called Online Website Degree where students, teachers, and potential returning students can learn about the interrelated fields of web design. Lots of free information here:

Plus email from Ben in an episode that had to be trimmed because there was just too much good stuff going on.

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8th Anniversary Show with Tom Brinck! Step Stool Critique

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.

We’d like to thank everyone for listening the past eight years and helping us reach the milestone of episode 100. If you appreciate Design Critique, please write a review of the show on the iTunes music store. We need more reviews and it only takes a couple minutes.

The first step stool we discuss is designed towards children and a product description is at

The second step stool we discuss is suitable for adults who need one that folds up when not in use and can be seen at

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!

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