Design Critique: Products For People



Encouraging usable designs for a better customer experience.


  • DC168 Interview: Viktor Rydal on the Nomono Sound Capsule

    11/11/2023 Duración: 01h03min

    This is our last episode for a while, but is well worth the wait! We have an interview with Viktor Rydal, industrial designer from Nomono, who talks with Tim about the Nomono Sound Capsule. Visit the Nomono website about the SoundCapsule to see and hear their demonstrations. This truly innovative solution records conversations with its custom lapel mics into its Sound Capsule hub, and their cloud application removes bad room acoustics to create astoundingly good audio from rooms that did NOT sound good to begin with. It's an interviewer's dream come true. Whether used by user researchers, journalists, or conference organizers, the Nomono Sound Capsule achieves good clean audio recordings in everyday noisy environments. The Sound Capsule allows the interviewer to focus on the interview, not worry about the audio engineering and room acoustics. For over an hour, Viktor and Tim talk about the story of the Sound Capsule's design and development. Tim is enjoying his new job teaching at Michigan Technological Unive

  • DC167 Interview: Dushyant Kanungo on Enterprise UX

    02/07/2023 Duración: 48min

    Dushyant Kunungo joins Timothy Keirnan for a discussion about enterprise UX.  * Duhsyant's professional background * The importance of user experience to employees working in an enterprise--both to their morale and their productivity. * Dushyant and Tim share eyebrow-raising anecdotes from enterprise user experience projects they have been on. Employees need effective, efficient, and enjoyable products/tools as much as external customers do. * Dushyant talks about his book, UX Decoded: Think and Implement User-Centered Research Methodologies, and Expert-Led UX Best Practices. You can reach Dushyant at his LinkedIn page. His book's publisher is at this link: Tim recommends everyone listen to this episode of Dushyant's excellent podcast, UX Banter, with Neal Ford discussing authenticity in branding:  

  • DC166 Interview: Publisher Barry McBride on Content Strategy at The Orange and Brown Report

    21/05/2023 Duración: 01h29min

    Barry McBride joins Timothy Keirnan to discuss the history and content strategy of The Orange and Brown Report, an independent news and analysis business catering to Cleveland Browns football fans. The Orange and Brown Report offers both free and paid subscription tiers of news and interaction with its beat writers and analysts. Across 80 minutes, Barry talks about: * The origin of his Cleveland Browns fan advocacy and community-building in 1995, when Browns ownership and the NFL betrayed Browns fans by moving the team to Baltimore and the legacy media refused to cover all aspects of the story. * HIs first website, * His second website, BrownsTNG (The Next Generation) * How legendary Browns former QB Bernie Kosar and his family helped Barry create Bernie's Insiders, a startup that professionalized Barry's concept with credentialed news reporters. * The transition to The Orange and Brown Report and further maturation of the concept. * Plans for the future of the OBR. You can find the Orange and

  • DC165 Interview: Matt Ranta on Improving UX for E-Commerce

    17/04/2023 Duración: 51min

    Matt Ranta, head of practice at Nimble Gravity, joins Tim for a discussion on how companies can and should improve their digital interactions with customers, whether they are B2B or B2C. Whether it's in email messages or web pages, details matter. 03:47 The importance of proofreading marketing email messages. 08:03 Use new image formats like webp and AVIF to increase speed of a website and its SEO. 17:06 Test a website with browsers besides Chrome, which not everyone will use. 22:00 Competitive intelligence tools and keywords 25:30 The useful website evaluation optimization tool 28:20 In 2023 people are still not labeling images with alt tags 30:20 Allowing content to be buried deep because of not using pagination properly on web pages 35:34 Disavowing bad back links from undesirable sites you may not want to be associated with, and/or a website that is a link farm 40:22 Do not hide the search bar on the home page or other pages.  Make sure to read Matt's excellent article 10 Opport

  • DC164 Critique: 2023 Subaru BRZ

    30/03/2023 Duración: 01h21min

    Eric Penn joins Tim Keirnan and Ken Mayer to discuss the first customer experience phases of his new 2023 Subaru BRZ after a month of ownership. The "Toyobaru Twins" (Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ) are the same car with some slight differences. This vehicle is one of the best examples of "user-centered design" we have ever encountered in a product, and Tim owned the first generation for four blissful years. Eric has purchased the long-awaited and much celebrated second generation, and we go into intense detail on our first four defined phases of the customer experience: Encounter (02:44) Decision    (07:21) Purchase   (21:00) Initial Use  (43:00) We will record an episode about Eric's longitudinal use in February of 2024 so that Eric has a full 12 months of ownership under his belt for that. On this podcast we are nothing if not thorough. In summary, the 2023 BRZ (the second model year of the 2nd generation of the car) meets or exceeds almost every criterion for delighting Eric as customer/user. The car's design

  • DC163 Interview: John Leavitt On Industrial Design

    02/03/2023 Duración: 54min

    John Leavitt, Senior Industrial Designer at Intelligent Product Solutions, joins Timothy Keirnan for a conversation about industrial design, using two firefighting products as a starting point. Besides the two case studies, we talk about general design process and philosophies, methods, education recommendations, and our ambitions for a world in which UX includes respect for users' privacy and security as a selling point. 00:00 Introduction 03:30 Design Process 08:06 Self Contained Breathing Apparatus case study 19:45 Fire Truck Inventory Feature case study 36:45 How does John recommend people learn industrial design and nurture their careers 40:30 Our dream of UX for any product having a main feature of protecting the user's/customer's privacy and security by default 48:50 John's favorite design resources Purism is one company that is making privacy and security of both software and hardware a primary selling point of their product designs. John's employer is at John's

  • DC162 Critique: 2022 Kia Niro EV

    28/01/2023 Duración: 56min

    David and Jo Lau discuss the five phases of customer experience with their 2022 Kia Niro EV  (Encounter, Decision, Purchase, Initial use, and Longitudinal use). Vehicle purchases are often a negotiation of two or more people's preferences and needs in domestic situations, and we are delighted to have talked with the Lau family about their customer journey. The human-machine interfaces (HMI) in the cockpit are the simple and effective designs we're used to seeing from Hyundai-Kia vehicles, and Tim was most impressed with the EV charging indicators on top of the dashboard that face through the windshield: three aqua blue lights convey charge status at a glance, without anyone having to pull out a smart phone. The driving features a tight suspension with enough torque to avoid trouble on the highways. David and Jo share their cost per mile with us as well, which is pleasantly low at current electric rates in their town. Range anxiety is a very real thing but for shorter distances, a BEV is suiting them fine. The

  • DC161 Critique: Private Selection Frozen Pizza

    01/01/2023 Duración: 19min

    Larry Rusinsky joins Tim Keirnan for a new kind of episode: critiquing  the user experience of food. Because the UX of food is so very subjective based on genetics, culture experiences, individual preferences, and a potential inconsistency of "production" for a particular dish, frozen foods are at least somewhat consistent in their production. Our critique is of Kroger's house brand Private Selection Artisan Stone Fired Pizza in the Cuban-Inspired Ham & Swiss flavor. We also ate a "control pizza" to attempt to create a reference point to describe the test pizza and which listers can relate to. The "fixed variable" as our control is a Newman's Own Thin & Crispy Crust Supreme Pizza. This is a nationally distributed brand in the USA. Larry and Tim found that Private Selection frozen pizza is a very fresh-tasting and interestingly flavored, at least in the Cuban-Inspired Ham & Swiss flavor. Larry says the other flavors are all worth trying. Both of us agreed that the value of these frozen pizzas is ve

  • DC160 Critique: PineTab tablet

    09/11/2022 Duración: 33min

    Yousef Hegazi joins the show to help Tim Keirnan critique Pine64's PineTab, a low-cost 10-inch tablet that uses Linux as its operating system instead of iOS, Android, or Windows. Pine64 provides "system on a chip" computing devices that run free and open source software (FOSS) as their operating system and applications. The PineTab follows earlier projects such as the PineBook/PineBook Pro (a laptop), the PinePhone and PinePhone Pro (a smartphone), and the PineTime (a smart watch). Projects are shipped early to a community that can help with development and, at some point, the project will be ready for regular everyday users to buy and enjoy. Unlike other tablets on the market such as the Apple iPad and the Amazon Fire, the PineTab is not a closed ecosystem that sends information back to its manufacturer about how customers use the device. NOTE: PINE64's website for ordering the PineTab did mention that the operating system is "a work in progress". Our critique balances our impressions of the device's UX with

  • DC159 Interview: John Loss on his book Not Always Homeless

    28/07/2022 Duración: 01h02min

    John Loss joins David Mettler and Tim Keirnan to talk about his book Not Always Homeless, created from ethnographic interviews with local people who were homeless in his area. Its subtitle is "The personal stories of 13 people who survived and escaped a life on the streets". After we discussed how he published his first book at age 80 based on  interviews with homeless people in the Niagara Falls area of New York State, we talked about about the 501c3 charity he and some fellow concerned citizens created to help local people without homes build a more stable life for themselves, called Help and Hope for the Homeless. Why and how do people in America become homeless, and what kind of assistance is proven to work successfully long term? John presents compassionate, insightful research and personal anecdotes from helping people in his community. Not Always Homeless... can be purchased on Amazon. The Niagara Gazette published this article about John's book and charity.

  • DC158 Critique: Electric Kettle UX

    01/06/2022 Duración: 46min

    Tec-Ed CEO Stephanie Rosenbaum joins Tim Keirnan for a critique of two different electric kettle designs that heat water quickly and precisely: the KRUPS BW3140 Savoy and the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp. Both designs accomplish the goal but in very different ways. The KRUPS kettle has its user interface in its base and excellent balance in its carafe, while the Cuisinart has its user interface in the handle of the carafe with better labeling, but worse ergonomics for the carafe itself. We discuss the details thoroughly, along with reflecting on how complex a user population can be for even the most simple tasks like heating water. Keep that user research going, whatever your product or service... Also, Stephanie received the UXPA's Lifetime Achievement Award the day before recording this! NOTE: Tim's memory was faulty about the cost of the kettles. They were closer to $90US each. You can find more details and photos for these products at the KRUPS website and the Cuisinart website.

  • DC157 Critique: 401K Website Usability Failure

    01/05/2022 Duración: 15min

    Tim recounts a 401K benefits website usability failure to cohost Dave Mitropoulos-Rundus. They then discuss the foundational importance of usability testing and of tracking the all-important time on task metric. Even in 2022, the most professional-looking website can disappoint customers if if UX fails at the most fundamental tasks.

  • DC156 Critique: 2016 Scion FR-S

    18/03/2022 Duración: 01h40min

    Five years and 50,000 miles in the making, this critique of the 2016 Scion FR-S (aka Subaru BRZ or Toyota 86) puts the long in longitudinal review! Cohosts Eric and Ryan return to help Tim discuss the complete customer experience with the car from encounter, to decision, to purchase, to initial use, to longitudinal reflection. The "Toyobaru" is in our opinions one of the most successful user-centered car designs we've ever experienced. Toyota and Subaru aimed this car at a narrow customer segment and created something with an enthusiastic following and enough sales to continue the model into a second generation. It never tries to be all things to all people, but rather succeeds in creating passion and loyalty in its customers' hearts. This episode is way longer than usual at 100 minutes so here are the segment timings: 00:00-51:00 Encounter, Decision, Purchase, Initial Use 51:00-1:07:34 Longitudinal Use and Final Year 1:07:35-1:21:19 Second Generation Improvements 1:21:20-1:40:33 Special Guest and Conclusion

  • DC155 Interview: Public Space Design with Sour Studio's Pinar Guvenc

    17/01/2022 Duración: 42min

    Pinar Guvenc, a partner at Sour Studio, joins Tim for a discussion on how this consultancy does their Architecture, Interior Design, Product Design, and Public Spaces work. Sour is a hybrid design studio with the mission of addressing social and urban problems through sustainable and inclusive methodologies. Sour's use of co-creation panels and extended collaboration with all the diverse stakeholders on their projects is discussed, as well as a case study in public space design they did in Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey. Sour is proud to say they work "with" clients and stakeholders, not "for". Check out Sour's work on making accessibility a priority in product design with their Degree Inclusive antiperspirant packaging and their ADA 1.0 clothing form that helps retailers make fashion accessible to people with disabilities. You can find Sour at Read some information about Taksim Square as well as view some photos.

  • DC154 Critique: Samsung and Sony DAPs

    31/12/2021 Duración: 42min

    Instructional designer Brian Duck joins Tim for two topics: why are UX practitioners still having to persuade  some companies that we need access to end users on our projects in 2021, and why Sony's ultra portable digital audio player is so bad compared with Samsung's player from 15 years ago. 00:00 - 08:00  We commiserate on the need in 2021, in some companies, to explain the fundamental need for early access to the end users of our projects rather than accept what managers dictate as "What the users need". Too many places still think requirements can be determined without proper stakeholder involvement. 08:00-40:00 We discuss the lack of progress in portable digital audio player UX by contrasting the superior UX of Samsung's 15-year old YP-U2J design with Sony's recent NWZ-B183 design that Tim is disappointed by. Brian tries each player for the first time to provide "newbie eyes" in this informal discussion ( this is not meant to be a real usability test). We discuss the importance of benchmarking a product

  • DC153 Interview: Gordon Olson on Green Water Heater Design

    16/10/2021 Duración: 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 Duración: 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 Duración: 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 Duración: 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 Duración: 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

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