Design Critique: Products For People



Encouraging usable designs for a better customer experience.


  • DC96: Site Maps As Design Tools

    27/01/2013 Duration: 21min

    Caitlin Potts discusses using using site maps as website design tools. You can have her Omnigraffle template for free at the following link: Caitlin based this episode off a presentation she gave the Michigan chapter of ACM-SIGCHI in December 2012, called "Helping Site Maps Get Their Groove Back". Thanks to MichiCHI for a great holiday event and speaker. You can find Michigan Chi at 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.

  • DC95 Nokia Customer Service

    21/12/2012 Duration: 15min

    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.Companies that care about their customers will save the brand's relationship with the customer when something goes awry. In particular, Nokia did three things to keep Tim's loyalty to the brand when disaster struck:1. Effective and consistent communication, both on their website and in person via telephone.2. Action that matches words with deeds. No hypocrisy or lies.3. High speed of resolving the problem--efficient solutions done right the first time.Thanks to their professional handling of the problem, Nokia has not lost a customer. Obviously this is something that T-Mobile doesn't care about, as evidenced by our previous episode, but to Nokia's credit they "get it".

  • DC94 T-Mobile Customer Service Nightmare

    21/11/2012 Duration: 18min

    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* Refusing to help replace a smart phone under warranty when it broke, in any kind of  realistic time frame,* Refusing to unlock the phone after selling it on the condition it would be unlocked after 90 days, and* Implying its monthly prepaid customers are not worth helping because only long term contract customers deserve good customer service.It's a comedy of errors unless you're the one who wasted hundreds of dollars and hours of time dealing with T-Mobile's agressively anti-customer practices. What lessons can we draw from T-Mobile's mistak

  • DC93: Nokia Lumia 710 Longitudinal Review

    05/11/2012 Duration: 39min

    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* Convenient, portable size with grippy back cover that can be switched with other colors to personalize the phone* Hardware buttons for the three standard Windows Phone buttons, instead of the soft buttons so often found on other models. We find dedicated hardware buttons much more usable.* Clear and bright screen with high contrast.* Good video recording.* Superior applications specific to Nokia phones, such as Nokia Drive.Problems included* Tim's phone broke after only five months without any abuse or dropping.* Still camera images are average at best.* Volume of speaker is not loud enough to hear nav instructions above road noise or  stereo playing.Despite the dislikes, the Lumia 710 is a great value-priced smart phone. As Windows 8 phones roll out, it may become even cheaper to buy and thus an even b

  • DC92 Wordcast: Haptics

    21/10/2012 Duration: 43min

    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.Check out Costan's automotive design blog athttp://www.drivingroom.comAnd remember to visit Haptics-e: The Electronic Journal of Haptics Researchfor the latest in scholarly research at

  • DC91 Interview: Peter Morville Live at IUE 2012

    13/09/2012 Duration: 30min

    "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. That was 1998. Since then, Peter continues to be a prolific author, practitioner, and thought leader for our industry and profession amidst this ever-expanding and reinventive internet landscape that continues to provide communications, information, and commerce to the world. To most effectively tap into Peter's current and historical thinking, he was interviewed live and interactively with the audience by Design Critique's Timothy Keirnan. Visit Peter's blog and more at

  • DC90 Longitudinal Review: Windows Phone 7.5

    01/09/2012 Duration: 57min

    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.Tobby is a long-time veteran of smart phone use, while Tim is new to smart phones, so both ends of the user continuum are included.To see the user interface of Windows Phone, head over to a cell phone store in your area and try it for yourself OR point your browser to The episode of Design Critique with Matt Hard that covered the Zune HD, the predecessor to Windows Phone, can be heard at

  • DC89 Mailbag Episode 3

    12/07/2012 Duration: 21min

    A very special mailbag episode in which* Internet User Experience 2012 is promoted. Check it out* Costan refers us to a terrific article on Airbus airliner cockpit interface design. Read it at* An anonymous listener complains about Tim's articulation. When is enunciating for intelligibility a problem, if ever? Do listeners speaking English as a second language appreciate clear articulation, or is it not needed?* Jason thanks us for the MINI Cooper critique episode.* Eric responds to the listener feedback episode with Lynn on lack of contrast in modern UI designs.

  • Listener Feedback with Lynn Leitte re: Low Contrast Hurts Usability MAY2012

    29/05/2012 Duration: 33min

    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.

  • DC88 Interview: Guidelines To Ensure Voting Intent with Dana Chisnell

    03/04/2012 Duration: 26min

    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.Learn and contribute (up until April 14th) to the project at Dana's thoughts on civic design at

  • DC87 Longitudinal Review: GoldStar Microwave Oven Model MA65111W

    31/03/2012 Duration: 16min

    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

  • Listener Feedback with Costan Boiangiu, FEB2012

    24/02/2012 Duration: 15min

    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.Costan shares his ideas on* The lack of usable bookmark titles on etail product pages* Some websites' frustrating lack of consistent overall navigation* Some websites' not revealing their national identity up front, especially if it's an etail siteYou can find Costan at his photography site here:www.costanimagelab.comand his work website

  • DC86 Longitudinal Review: TomTom XL335TM Portable GPS

    31/01/2012 Duration: 46min

    "Attack of the Pointless Modal Confirmations"Tim critiques almost two years of experience with the TomTomXL335TM portable GPS in a longitudinal review plagued by a ragged voice from a nasty January filled with mishaps, and a mental wooziness that we hope isn't too obvious. But food poisonings, auto wrecks, and seasonal colds cannot prevent the fact that the XL335 is a GPS that has terrific voices which sound wonderful, but unreliable software and horrid modal confirmation abuses throughout.Just reflect on this one example of interaction design gone wrong; sadly, it is typical of the TomTom Way: It takes eleven, that's 11, taps to change voices on the XL335TM. I am not making this up.And here are TomTom's excellent marketing of its Star Wars celebrity voices:Darth Vader in the recording studio: in the recording studio: Two feedback emails round out this 46-minute episode.

  • Listener Feedback with Eric Gauvin, DEC2011

    14/12/2011 Duration: 24min

    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!

  • DC85 Critique: Sustainable Shaving Tools

    24/11/2011 Duration: 01h19min

    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:* Closer shaves that last longer before the dreaded 5 o'clock shadow appears* Improved skin condition due to premium creams and soaps used* Lower cost of ownership (unless you start collecting gear as a hobby)* Sustainable technology compared with disposable plastic-dominated, modern, overpriced crap* Better user experience due to mindful nature of single-blade shaving that many find relaxing and even fun, due to the "gourmet" shave creams and soaps, brushes, and blades used. As Mike says, it's more classy.Two forums in particular helped us convert from multi-bladed cartridge monstrosities with industrial "goop in a can" to vintage shaving: frequents this forum and likes it a lot. favors this one for forum owner Bruce's blog and the very international nature forum t

  • DC84 Panel: The State of the Internet User Experience, 2011

    31/10/2011 Duration: 01h01min

    Recorded live at Internet User Experience 2011 on October 11th, it's the panel session "The State of the Internet User Experience" starringMarti GukeisenDave Mitropoulos-RundusDante MurphySusan Weinschenkand Tim Keirnan as the moderator.Learn more about the panelists at to all four panelists for allowing Design Critique to distribute this recording.

  • DC82b Critique: Logitech Customer Service

    23/10/2011 Duration: 08min

    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.If only more companies took their customer experience after the sale as seriously as Logitech does! Service after the sale is as important as the product design itself. Indeed, it IS part of the product design. Only arrogant, "take the money and run" companies, such as MINI, fail to understand this. Long-term brand loyalty is usually increased by responsive customer support.

  • DC83 Longitudinal Review: 2009 MINI Cooper

    13/09/2011 Duration: 01h34min

    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!Basically, the second generation (post-2006) MINI Cooper is a frustrating mix of unreliable components assembled unreliably. MINI refused for over a month to send Tim's dealer a new piston and rod when those went bad at only 31K miles. The flaky electronics are infested with more gremlins than, uh...that movie named "Gremlins". An addictively fun car such as the MINI almost makes you forgive its shoddy quality...almost but not quite. Tim broke his addiction and is now in MINI detox. Please pray for his recovery.But there's still a lo

  • DC82 Longitudinal Review: Logitech Pure-Fi Anywhere 2

    31/08/2011 Duration: 24min

    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. This longitudinal review covers two years of experience using this product, including the new user interface, the industrial design that both delights and disappoints, the improved sound quality of the bass response, and a problem with the battery that we should all be upset about in consumer electronics.Internet User Experience 2011 is coming to Ann Arbor, Michigan, this autumn! Check out what this terrific annual conference has to offer this year

  • DC81: 6th Anniversary Episode with Dr. Susan Weinschenk on 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

    29/07/2011 Duration: 57min

    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.Thanks for listening for six years! I'm proud of what Tom Brinck and I started back in the summer of 2005, and appreciate any and all feedback you send.Susan's blog is atwww.whatmakesthemclick.netHer Twitter is@thebrainladyCheck out the Colours In Cultures color wheel by David McCandless at can read Tim's article about usability testing for entrepreneurs at the Entrepreneurial America website at

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