Design Critique encourages usable product designs for a better customer experience. We do not accept advertising nor "review units" from manufacturers--we spend our own money on the products reviewed for a purity you won't find on other websites and shows.
Using principles and experience from our careers helping clients and employers create usable products, we critique software and hardware based on long-term experience with them in our own lives.
PLUS interviews with user experience practitioners, authors, educators, and more!
Syed Ibrahim joins Tim Keirnan for a critique of the Motorola MotoG4 smart phone. While the G4 was touted as an affordable, "pure, clutter-free version of Android", Tim's experience was anything but pure Android. Syed's expert Android wisdom provides a counterpoint to Tim's confusion and disappointment as the discussion ranges from the pluses and minuses of the G4 to the shortcomings of various reviews of the phone when it came out. Our conclusion is that, if the botched implementation of the G4's so-called "pure" Android experience is bad, the coverage of the phone in the traditional tech media was even more sloppy. How is one to shop effectively for a good Android phone in light of reviews like this? Syed has suggestions. Thanks to Tom Merritt for his report on Lenovo switching all its phones to "stock Android". The link to that particular episode of Daily Tech News is at http://www.dailytechnewsshow.com/dtns-3088-left-to-their-phone-devices/ and the license for distributing this excerpt, unmodified, is https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ We won't waste your time linking to all the crappy reviews of the G4 that missed the point in so many ways on this unfortunate phone.
We return to the Garmin Nuvi 2598LMTH to try Garmin's companion application for it, BaseCamp. Aravindh Baskaran is back to help Tim Keirnan try to create a customized commute route in to the office and upload the route to the GPS unit. This is a very informal usability test and Tim wanted Aravindh around because the first time Tim tried to do this, he was not successful. Aravindh has used Base Camp to create car club routes on back roads with the Windows version of BaseCamp, so he is acting as informal usability test moderator. The initial use usability problems Tim encountered were nothing compared to the design failure he found transferring the route to the Garmin GPS unit and using it. If you would like to follow along, you can download a Windows or Macintosh version of BaseCamp at Garmin's website: www.garmin.com Listener Costan Boiangiu's excellent email about the UX of GPS devices kicks off this episode, and the informal usability test critique of BaseCamp starts about 15 minutes in.
Aravindh Baskaran joins Tim Keirnan for a critique of the Garmin Nuvi 2598LMTHD. We follow our usual critique structure that includes the following: Encounter Decision Purchase Out of the Box Initial Use Longitudinal Use The Garmin 2598 is an interesting mixture of excellence and frustration. On the positive side, we found that * The map screens, both day and night versions, are very well designed. * The voice sounds terrific because it is both pleasant stylistically and cuts through the noise of the car sonically. * The device is fairly quick in its operation, including finding satellites (unless you are indoors, but why are you driving indoors?) On the negative side, we found that * The vaunted voice interface doesn't work well at all. Very frustrating. * The un-changeable and incessant alarm for school zones within a half mile of the car is extremely frustrating and can make us ignore alarms in general. * The unit occasionally freezes and no amount of pressing or tapping the screen will bring it back, forcing the user to unplug power from the unit and restart it. * Inexplicable routing can ignore oft-travelled commutes and actually send us the long way around. And sometimes Tim got a different route home if his address was in the Home saved location rather than his address being in the Recent list. * The settings don't encourage quickly finding what you want to adjust. Finally, email from listener Katie was a wonderful compliment to starting a new year of episodes. Thank you for listening, Katie.
Ken Mayer and Eric Penn join Tim Keirnan for a longitudinal review of Tim's 2003 Subaru WRX. If it sounds like we recorded this episode sitting in a car, well, we did! This episode covers the following items in the following order: * The evolution of the all wheel drive niche in vehicle design and rally race history * The nature of forced induction, its pros and its cons * The superb steering wheel by Momo , the clean and usable instrument panel, the clean and usable controls, the amazingly good seats. * The factory boost gauge and short shifter options. * The design choices of 2003, with a value on providing the most feedback to the driver, versus modern car designs with their isolated and numb feeling for the driver. Ken's dad's 2015 WRX provides contrast to what Subaru did in 2003. How has the model evolved? * The heavy weight and mechanical complexity of an all wheel drive and turbocharged vehicle. * Tim's few and limited modifications to an otherwise stock bugeye WRX. * We almost forgot to talk about the qualities of a boxer engine and the excellent sound of the stock exhaust with unequal length headers. * The oil and transmission fluid dipsticks were poorly designed and those fluids are kind of, you know, just barely, important. Skip ahead to 31 minutes if you want to bypass our discussion of the history of all wheel drive cars and comparisons to front wheel drive and rear wheel drive, and the principles of forced induction. Eric promises us a longitudinal review of his FiestaST in 2017! Stay tuned. . .
2016 has been a bad year of manufacturers trying to force customers into upgrading their devices by user interface trickery. First Microsoft and their Windows 10 deceptions, and now Apple with iOS10 reminders that cannot be refused. In this episode, Tim describes Apple's failure to provide a "No" response in the iPhone's UI and the "nag screen" that repeatedly makes an offer the customer can't refuse. It's not quite as bad as the Windows 10 manipulation scheme was, but the increasing lack of respect for device owners is concerning. Tim's proposed Upgrade Bill of Rights says the following: 1. Respect the owner of the product in all ways. All update dialogs must contain a No response. The owner decides what and when to upgrade, not the manufacturer. 2. Enable the owner to control notifications of updates. Enable turning off reminders messages for specific upgrades. 3. Enable the owner to schedule reminders and updates on their own schedule. Between family support, new house projects, and other life details, the new responsive website for the show is still not up. Thanks for your patience.
Alvaro Vargas joins Tim Keirnan for a thorough discussion of the customer experience of eReaders, in particular the offerings from Kobo. Tim is the newbie, having recently bought a Kobo Glo HD as his first eReader, and Alvaro provides the longitudinal review of Kobo eReaders, having bought four of them over time. His current model is a Kobo Glo. As usual, the discussion follows Tim's list of Customer Experience Phases: Encounter Decision Purchase Out of the Box Early Use Longitudinal Use In addition to critiquing the Kobo software and hardware, the guys discuss the nature of physical books versus eBooks, the reasons for a single purpose device like eReaders over tablets, and the challenge of getting accurately created eBooks from source material. Among other things. It's 90 minutes of commercial free analysis and discussion! The shownotes photo for this episode features shots of the two eReaders.
Brian Shunamon from the USA sent us a message so on point that I asked him if I could record it and publish it. As an Information Technology professional with corporate clients, as well as a guy looked to for tech advice by friends and family, Brian addresses the concerns of our last several episodes on Microsoft's customer experience mistakes with its Windows 10 upgrade policy and behaviors. He reminds us that enduring patterns of mistreatment is a bad precedent not only in our personal relationships, but also in our relationships as customers of products and services. You don't have to take it! Nor should we. Brian's longer written article, "NIXING Windows", about why Microsoft's behavior is a threat to your personal and professional computing life, and how you might consider an personal computer operating system such as Linux, is on his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nixing-windows-brian-shunamon?trk=prof-post Thank-you, Brian!
Microsoft hit a new low in their obnoxious campaign to upgrade customers' PCs that were Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10. The user interface is almost impossible to say "no" to when the dreaded Win10 upgrade message appears. Anecdotes about affected customers Tim knows and a critique of two freeware utilities that can keep a Windows machine under the user's control are featured in this short episode. When will Microsoft learn to respect customer's private property and offer an honest UI to upgrade to Windows 10? Never, probably. The brand is suffering as Microsoft demonstrates contempt for their paying customers and tricks customers into forced upgrades. Hypnotically cool documentary of Lenny's Shirts: https://youtu.be/eAuNU8npRv0 Lenny's Shirts store on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LennyShirts?ref=unav_listing-r Paul Thurott's excellent article explains the whole mess: https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/67367/upgradegate-microsofts-upgrade-deceptions-undermining-windows-10 Steve Gibson of GRC created Never10 to let owners regain control of their Windows PC: https://www.grc.com/never10.htm GWX Control Panel is not as easy to use as Never10, but offers more configuring options: http://ultimateoutsider.com/downloads/
Tim Keirnan and Mike Velasco critique three generations of the
AppleTV: 2, 3, and 4. Mike's experience with Gen 2 and Gen 4
provide a backdrop to Tim's first month with his refurbished Gen
It's 90 minutes of thorough discussion on three iterations of the
same product. Where else will you hear this level of detailed
critique on product design? Nowhere! And not one commercial to fast
The Windows 10 upgrade has become infamous for its pushy, hard sell approach and its "phone home" data tracking "features". Did you know the "hard sell" is known by such other fun names as "advance consent" and "inertia selling"? It's all about disrespecing customers' property rights, personal rights, and using people as objects for short term gain instead of offering them a decent value proposition.
As recounted in this episode, even the technical implementation has flaws that result in a customer experience that disappoints at best and enrages customers at worst. At least, this customer was not satisfied.For those of you who share my concerns at Microsoft's disresepctful, anti-customer approach, the GWX control panel may offer some relief from the Windows 10 upgrade annoyance. Check it out athttp://ultimateoutsider.com/downloads/
NOTE: This critique is of the Windows 10 upgrade process itself, not of Windows 10's user experience as an operating system and user interface.
In service design and delivery, people are the user interface between an organization and its customers. This anecdotal episode recounts two excellent customer experiences with two seemingly well-run companies. Both employ people whose friendly personalities and professional skills, backed by efficient business processes, won them Tim's business.Story 1: WOW Internet makes switching from internet service provider AT&T; Uverse painless and affordable.Story 2: A Plus Auto Repair & Transmission shows how to win expensive repair jobs over Hodges Subaru, an official dealership.A bonus critique of the ConnectSense CS-TH Wireless Temperature Sensor shows how crucial first time setup is and the consequences of it failing. Product setup is your brand's ambassador! Don't screw it up!Merry Christmas, Yuletide Greetings, and Happy New Year. Please submit a review on the iTunes Store if you want to thank us for another year of episodes.
Wayne Neale, CEO of Kaydak, joins Tim Keirnan for an interview that ranges across several topics:* Experience Design: From UI to User Experience to Customer Experience and beyond* Design Thinking* Service DesignYou can find Wayne athttp://www.kydak.com/The service design episodes of Design Critique Tim mentioned can be heard here:http://designcritique.net/dc32b-interview-cafe-design-with-tom-diabhttp://designcritique.net/dc47-interview-designing-the-ux-of-conferences-with-jared-spoolhttp://designcritique.net/10th-anniverary-episode-with-tom-brinck-on-starbucks-customer-experienceThe Tim Cook interview that gives Tim a glimmer of hope that Apple isn’t completely a lost cause:http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/01/445026470/apple-ceo-tim-cook-privacy-is-a-fundamental-human-rightListener Garrick Dee emailed to say he liked our Sustainable Shaving Tools episode and he’s written his own article on traditional wet shaving. Check it out!http://www.groomingessentialsblog.com/how-to-wet-shave/
Time for a mobile episode! Aravindh Baskaran, UX researcher and designer, joins Tim Keirnan to look at the user experience of Android Lollipop. What did we like about it and what do we think could be better? With Android Marshmallow on the way, it's time to reflect on Lollipop's effectiveness.Android is used, in one form or another, by more customers around the world than any other mobile OS (stats we found on this were so inconsistent that we gave up looking, but Android was clearly in the lead in all mobile OS usage stats). We used Aravindh's Nexus 5 phone for this episode because Tim's Nexus 4 now has Ubuntu Touch on it. The blog post image is Lollipop's list design that you'll hear us discuss when we refer to Google's "Material Design".Note when critiquing Android UIs: Aravindh and Tim are critiquing pure Android as designed by Google and used on their Nexus devices and (for the most part) on Motorola's smart phones. Other manufacturers can and do take advantage of Android's open source nature to create their own Android UI that can be grossly inferior to pure Android or innovative, depending on one's point of view. So the UX of Android is not one thing as with iOS and Windows Phone, but a fragmented mix of competing interpretations of Google's Android reference design.Email from Jan Jursa and Costan Boiangiu concludes this episode. Head over to Jan's wonderful Information Architecture Television and take advantage of all the great material there:http://iatelevision.blogspot.com/
The Design Critique podcast celebrates its tenth anniversary! While others have podfaded, we have persevered.In this anniversary episode, show co-founder Tom Brinck returns to discuss the customer experience of Starbucks coffee shops with Tim Keirnan. Tom is the power user and Tim is the newbie. Two very different perspectives.This anniversary episode's album art features a cake with a Star Wars action figure on it, as befits any ten-year-old's birthday cake. And you must admit it's cool to have Palpatine himself with us, ready to slice, dice, and fry hypocritically corrupt Jedi. As they well deserved.Thank-you for listening to us for ten years. And thanks to everyone who appeared on the show with us. Customer Experience research and design is more popular than ever, and if this show has helped you improve your products and services, or helped you acquire really good products that truly improved your life, we have accomplished our goal.Best regards,Tim and Tom
In this first audio editorial episode, Tim relates how he rediscovered the advantages of small electronics devices over their larger-screened brothers. Thanks to Dad for inspiring this one.Besides mobile phones, cars are another example of a product range that used to punish customers who wanted a small size by not allowing superior materials or features in them. Thankfully for small car fans, it's getting better.Smart companies recognize that small size product buyers actually have two categories: those who can only afford the smaller size with no extras, and those who want a premium customer experience and will gladly pay for the extras if made available in a smaller form factor. Small doesn't have to mean cheap!Nice article on small but premium Android phones:http://www.3g.co.uk/PR/April2014/best-compact-smartphones-available.htmlI forgot to say that as amazingly good as the Lumia 820 is, its camera is not why. This article details current Windows phones and sadly, their trend of providing terrific premium small phones is going in the wrong direction (still great phones if you like 5 inch screens):http://www.3g.co.uk/PR/Nov2013/best-windows-phones-right-available-today.htmlMore good reads on premium small cars:http://www.cheatsheet.com/automobiles/9-upscale-small-cars-to-splurge-on.html/?a=viewallhttp://consumerguide.com/best-buys/premium-compact-car/
Hi everyone, this is a reminder that Internet User Experience is coming back to Ann Arbor, Michigan this June. Also, we have email falling out of the previous episode about the Beluga Razor design.
Visit the IUE2015 website at
Zac Wertz, inventor of the Beluga Razor, joins Tim Keirnan for an interview about the design of both the Beluga Razor prototype and the BelugaShave.com website. Across 80 minutes of uninterrupted, commercial-free conversation, Zac and Tim discuss hardware and digital designs, including* Their mutual dissatisfaction with modern cartridge razor shave quality, its high cost, and environmental problems* Their appreciation for traditional safety razor shaving* Zac's origin story for inventing the Beluga razor* How Zac designs mechanical prototypes* The design of the BelugaShave.com website to reinforce the Beluga brand* Tim's experience shaving with the prototypeThe Beluga razor combines the advantage of the modern cartridge razor--a pivoting head--with the advantage of the traditional safety razor--its single, double-edged razor blade. Users thus have the low cost, superior effectiveness, and environmental advantages of traditional safety razor shaves without having to learn the fine motor skills needed for using a traditional safety razor. P.S. You can listen to older shaving-themed episodes:http://designcritique.net/dc85-critique-sustainable-shaving-toolshttp://designcritique.net/dc48-shaving-razor-critiques
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:www.leagueoflistbuilders.comandwww.jonathantilley.comAudiophiles 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.https://www.neumann.com/?lang=en&id;=current_microphones&cid;=tlm103_description
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:https://twitter.com/hashtag/HFES2014We also read email from listeners Costan (about GPS unit designs) and Reed (about interactive voice response systems).
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 strenghts 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 wasUsability 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...