Design Critique: Products For People



Encouraging usable designs for a better customer experience.


  • DC153 Interview: Gordon Olson on Green Water Heater Design

    16/10/2021 Duration: 48min

    Gordon Olson, CEO of Torii Industries, joins Timothy Keirnan for a discussion about a new design of tank-less water heater. Tank-less water heaters remove the need for a large water tank to be heated 24 hours a day for occasional hot water use. Besides being inefficient use of energy, traditional tank water heaters can fail catastrophically, and provide large amounts of landfill waste after their useful life is over. The Torii solution will replace an old centralized water heater with a tank-less model that uses a carbon foam inside the pipes of the unit to heat water very quickly & efficiently for use on demand.  This design does not expose metallic components to the hot water that catalyzes oxidation and subsequent wear. Sensors and software will monitor the components and facilitate component replacement before any failures occur. You can visit Torii Industries at

  • DC152 Interview: Medical Packaging Design with Dr. Laura Bix

    20/08/2021 Duration: 40min

    Dr. Laura Bix from the Michigan State University School of Packaging returns to the show! Her latest project was researching the packaging of medical supplies used by EMTs in the field as they stabilize patients and transport them to the hospital in the ambulance. Dr. Bix describes how most medical supplies are normally packaged for the highly controlled Operating Room environment and how they might not work as well in the field and in ambulances. From initial investigation ideas, to recording ambulance environments on closed tracks, to constructing an ambulance simulator usability lab for testing the opening of packaging with EMTs under repeatable conditions, Dr. Bix walks us through all the phases of the project. Here is an article on Dr. Bix's work at the school, including the study we talked about in this episode (I used two great photos from this article in this blog post, thank you MSU!): Visit the MSU School of Pac

  • DC151 Interview: Memoir Design with David Loehr and Greg Swenson

    25/07/2021 Duration: 44min

    Tim Keirnan interviews author David Loehr and designer Greg Swenson about the new memoir That's How Strong My Love Is: From Rock and Roll to James Dean. The memoir is an insider's perspective of rock and roll history, James Dean legacy, fashion, pop culture, and the counterculture of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s from New York to LA. This book is unique in that David, the world's foremost archivist of James Dean's remarkable life and career, saved so many artifacts from his own interesting life experiences to document them, including ticket stubs, posters, autographed photos, letters, post cards, clothing from various periods, photos, badges, pins, stage designs, newspaper clippings, and more. Greg worked with David to design the presentation of the memoir text and the appropriate artifact photos and scans, plus the cover. David's memoir is on sale at the following places: The James Dean Gallery ( (

  • DC150 Critique: BinaxNow COVID Self Test

    03/07/2021 Duration: 18min

    This is a solo episode in which I critique the design of Abbott's BinaxNow Covid-19 Antigen Self Test. This test is available in retail stores (in the USA a pack of two is, at this time, about $20). It tests for proteins one's body makes when fighting a Covid-19 infection, the symptoms of which not everyone experiences in the same way. The use of rapid antigen self tests could revolutionize public health for COVID and beyond. Imagine getting ready to visit someone you love whose health is compromised in some way that makes them more risky to something that is going around your area. A rapid self-test can put the mind at ease, especially for symptoms that allergies can mimic. Use of rapid self tests can protect coworkers, family, friends, etc., because if enough people use them during a time of an outbreak, those who may test positive for being infectious can self-isolate and prevent the spread while they contact their doctor to get help if needed. The BinaxNow test is as easy to use as advertised. The only im

  • DC149 Critique: Garmin Dash Cameras

    08/05/2021 Duration: 53min

    Eric Penn rejoins Tim Keirnan on the show for a critique of Garmin dash cameras. And on this show you know we bought them with our own money, no review units or other favors from the manufacturer. The guys discuss the following models: * nuviCam LMTHD that combines a GPS with a dash cam * Garmin 35 * Garmin 46 * Garmin Mini In both Eric's and Tim's critiques, Garmin customer support was a big positive to the customer experience. The products were useful and usable, without any outstanding problems. When Tim's nuviCam broke after only two years, Garmin customer support worked diligently to help him fix it. Even though it could not be fixed, having a company sincerely try to help solve a problem salvages a relationship and Tim would consider another Garmin purchase because the customer service. Our previous episode with customer service professional expert Charlotte Purvis rings true here. In Eric's case, his 35 broke under the warranty period and Garmin quickly replaced it. No fuss, no muss. Eric discusses us

  • DC148 Interview: Charlotte Purvis on The Customer Communication Formula

    28/02/2021 Duration: 44min

    Charlotte Purvis joins Timothy Keirnan for a discussion about ensuring good user experience with customer service professionals. When we call an organization for help with a product or service, these people are on the front line of customer interaction. How well they assist us will impact our perceptions of a product and the brand of the company that sold it. Charlotte's new book is The Customer Communication Formula: How to Communicate with your Customers and Boost your Customer Service Brand. She talks with Tim for 40 minutes about how she created her customer communication formula, how she coaches customer service professionals in call centers, and the importance of having a professional physical environment for people to do their best work in the office or at home. You can find Charlotte at her website

  • DC147 Purism Librem 5 Smartphone Hardware Impressions

    02/01/2021 Duration: 24min

    The Librem 5 is Purism's re-envisioning what a smartphone could be and should be. It runs on Purism's own Linux distribution PureOS, which is certified by the Free Software Foundation to be free of non-transparent, proprietary code such as many commercial products use. The "Evergreen" batch of Librem 5 phones is the first official production model, and possesses unique qualities not found in most smart phones: * Hardware switches to turn on/off camera, microphone, WiFi, Bluetooth, and cellular connection. * Easily removeable battery for easy replacement. * Easy access to replace the cellular modem and the WiFi/Bluetooth circuitry * Updates to the PureOS operating system for the long term, not just a few years. * Connection via USB-C to an external monitor. * Does not inherently track customers' usage of the phone and apps. As of December 2020, this "Evergreen" batch of phones does not have a sleep function, so battery life is very short. The microphone of this particular Librem 5 is described as sounding "muf

  • DC146 Susan Weinschenk on 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People

    12/11/2020 Duration: 51min

    Susan Weinschenk joins Tim Keirnan to discuss the second edition of her wonderfully useful and usable book 100 Things Every Designer Should Know About People. First published in 2011, 100 Things... has helped many kinds of professionals and students learn to be better designers. Visit Susan's company at Susan has been on the show multiple times over our 15 years and you may enjoy hearing these older episodes with her:

  • DC145 15th Anniversary Episode with Two Special Guests

    07/10/2020 Duration: 53min

    We're 15 years old! Tim Keirnan is joined by show co-founder Tom Brinck plus UX legend Stephanie Rosenbaum for a celebration of the show's 15th anniversary. From July 2005 to October 2020, we've kept going when other shows faded away. Where did the time go? But time discussing product and service design is always well spent. Tom and Stephanie continue our discussion series on the buzzwordification of UX--the good and the bad of our terminology becoming popular in the past five years--and memories from 15 years of doing the show. Thanks everyone who listened, wrote, and guested on the show. We're proud of 15 years of commercial-free discussions on design. Tim and Tom  

  • DC144 Sunday Times Website Dark Pattern

    08/08/2020 Duration: 14min

    This is a short episode on the dark pattern of not allowing a customer to leave a service without unnecessary effort. The Sunday Times website does not allow users to cancel their digital subscription on the site. It took a 15 minus chat online to accomplish what should take one minute and a couple clicks. Hear all about it and think about what decisions like this mean to an organization hell-bent on annoying customers. The Dark Patterns website referred to in this episode is at They do a really good job writing about and classifying  dark patterns. Thank-you, Harry Brignull and Alexander Darlington. The Sunday Times article on the French philosopher Levy is at

  • DC143 Interview: Kelly Goto on Universal Design and More

    10/06/2020 Duration: 49min

    Kelly Goto, owner and principal of gotomedia and gotoresearch, joins Timothy Keirnan for a discussion about universal design and related topics. Dave M-R and Tim discussed Kelly's excellent 2018 article about professional terminology in episode 135 last year. Now she is on the show herself to cover a fun range of topics, including Universal Design, Inclusive Design, Accessibilty, Japanese design, and Designing for an aging population It's 45 minutes of serious discussion that doesn't take itself too seriously. Kelly provided the following links to continue the learning after you're done listening: (great story about Target in there -- it is a "design for all" store. ( a tech blog run by a friend / colleague of mine)

  • DC142 Critique: Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

    01/05/2020 Duration: 48min

    Larry Rusinsky returns to the show to help Tim critique the Bose QuietComfort 25 acoustic noise canceling headphones. The links referred to in the episode include: How Noise Canceling Headphones Work Comparison of the Bose QuietComfort 25 with the 35 Bose: Why Audiophiles Should Stop the Hate Bose Store Locator

  • DC141 Interview: Ladder Fire Truck Design with Chief Dan Phillips

    23/02/2020 Duration: 01h33s

    Chief Phillips of the Plymouth Township Fire Department has the mind of a firefighter and the heart of a User Experience designer. Join him and Tim Keirnan for a sequel to our pumper truck design episode, this time to discuss the design of our  township's new ladder truck. How does the purpose of a ladder truck differ from a pumper truck? What did the fire department learn from ordering and using the pumper truck that improved their design of the new ladder truck? How is the human machine interface (HMI) of the ladder truck made to be as easy as possible for firefighters, including controlling the ladder and hoses and foam generator? Our discussion lasts 60 minutes and covers a wide range of anecdotes, from the scenes of emergency incidents, to the design specification reviews, to the shop floor of the Pierce factory where our truck was built.

  • DC140 Critique: Tesla Model 3

    20/12/2019 Duration: 01h16min

    Tesla Model 3 owners Ryan Malcolm and Syed Ibrahim join Tim Keirnan for a thorough critique of their cars while Tim moderates this ad-free, in-depth discussion. We follow the show's Critique by Values model to learn how Ryan and Syed experienced each of the phases of product experience: Encounter Decision Purchase Initial Use Longitudinal Use This is not a review of the car as much as it is a conversation about people's transportation needs and how the Model 3 fit into their current lives. Of course, aspects of the car are discussed throughout. As usual, we leave no stone unturned in a detailed, people-centered discussion unhindered by commercials. You can find Ryan at his YouTube channel, which includes track day footage of his Model 3: You can find Syed at his website at:

  • DC139 WordCast: Paul Fitts, his Law, and his List

    24/11/2019 Duration: 32min

    Dr. Rebecca Grier joins Tim Keirnan for a wordcast episode about Fitts' Law and Fitts' List. Who was Paul Fitts and how did this legendary psychologist impact our design professions to this day? In a beautiful bit of synchronicity, Wired magazine published this excellent article about Fitts and Chapanis solving a design problem on the B-17 Flying Fortress during WWII.: Dr. Grier recommends the following links to use in our understanding of Fitts' work: Yo

  • DC138 Conversation: The Buzzwordification of UX #2

    13/09/2019 Duration: 39min

    Jared Spool and Dana Chisnell join Tim Keirnan for a conversation about what Tim is calling the "buzzwordification" of UX. Has the increasing notoriety of this profession label helped us? Has it hindered us? Maybe it's a balance of pro and con. Maybe we just need to meet in a rental car in a parking garage somewhere in Dearborn and hash it out. Jared can be found at User Interface Engineering and the Center Centre school. Check the UIE site for his upcoming appearances in a city near you. Dana can be found at the Center for Civic Design. She is also, among many other wonderful things, the co-author of the legendary Handbook of Usability Testing 2nd Edition. She travels, too. Meet her if you can. This is the second in a series of indeterminate length. While not linked in any way beside the topic, you may also be interested in listening to the first conversation in the series with Serena Rosenhan and Keith Instone.

  • DC137 Critique: The Brilliant Mundane of the E-SDS KVM Switch

    09/08/2019 Duration: 33min

    Mike Velasco joins Timothy Keirnan to critique the E-sds HDMI 2 Port KVM Switch Box. This item enables the use of two computers with a shared keyboard (K), video monitor (V), and mouse (M). The holistic excellence of this product is surprising. When a company does the mundane as well as this product, it shows what can be done with all details gotten right. From its excellent user interface, to its rugged build quality, to its beautiful packaging, to its well-written and well-illustrated documentation, E-SDS did everything right. This is what a good team can accomplish when value, rather than cost, is the focus for the customer. It also proves that goods made in China can be of terrific quality. Even the sales entry on is done extraordinarily well and ,while this show does not have nor want affiliate links, we’re going to put the Amazon link here so you can see how well the catalog entry was done. It has all the photos and text one would need to make a good decision.

  • DC136 Interview: Paul Axente on UX in Romania and Everywhere

    30/06/2019 Duration: 56min

    Paul Axente, host of meetup group UX City and producer of the new Design Conversations podcast, joins Tim Keirnan for a wide-ranging discussion about UX in Romania and other topics, including: * UX City's purpose and meetings * Paul's unique route to a UX career * The Design Conversations podcast * Dark patterns in online retail * Concerns about Amazon's long-term effects on customers and communities * Paul's reservations about "corporate command" in the design process * Ethics of design * Customer experience of the video game industry (it's bad) but the promise of independent gaming companies who design for great games and for customers instead of only to make money. * The trap of people confusing tools with design skills. "What is the best tool for design? YOU are the best tool for design." If you are in Romania (and even if you're not!), look up UX City here: You can find the Design Conversations podcast in many places, including UX and

  • DC135 Profession Labels for "Designers of Stuff" with Dave MR

    13/05/2019 Duration: 36min

    Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus returns to talk with Tim Keirnan about labels for our field. This continues our long-running friendly discussion about what we call our profession and why, and is there a difference--or should there be--between User Experience and Customer Experience? Dave appreciates the terminology differences whereas Tim wonders why we make such fine distinctions when at the root level we're all  "Designers of Stuff". Kelly Goto's excellent 2018 article: Jared Spool's excellent article published the day we recorded this episode. I think Jared's a mind reader! NOTE: Tim regrets interrupting Dave too much in a shocking lapse of bad hosting etiquette...he was hopped up on cough syrup at the time of this recording, which you can hear in his deep head cold voice breaking worse than Peter's in that episode of The Brady Bunch

  • DC134 The Buzzwordification of UX (1 of ?)

    14/03/2019 Duration: 01h04min

    Keith Instone and Serena Rosenhan both return to the show for an episode about UX and "buzzwordification". The last 3-4 years have seen a big rise in the use UX terminology in the media and among coworkers. What are the advantages and disadvantages for UX practitioners now that UX has become popular beyond academia and professional societies? Tim Keirnan sets up the roundtable discussion and the wisdom pours out of these two veteran UX professionals. The fireplace crackling gets a bit loud at points but plying guests with food, drink, and fireplace ambience is part of our recording process. You can find Serena at You can find Keith at

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