Design Critique: Products for People

Design Critique: Products for People
By Timothy Keirnan
About this podcast
Design Critique encourages usable product designs for a better customer experience through * Critiques of products & services we've bought with our own money, * Interviews with people whose work or books we admire, and * Discussions of design methods we use in our own user experience research and design careers. Each episode is different, with the only constant being our demand that design make our lives better and provide long term value. If you care only about whatever latest snake oil the tech industry foists on uncritical minds, go find a bandwagon show to listen to. But if you care about design's impact on our modern quality of life, and appreciate the spirit of reflection from writers like Neil Postman and Henry David Thoreau, give us a listen.
Latest episodes
Aug. 22, 2017
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.
June 30, 2017
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.
March 2, 2017
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.
Dec. 31, 2016
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. . .
Nov. 16, 2016
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.
July 30, 2016
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.
June 23, 2016
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!    
May 26, 2016
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/
April 30, 2016
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 3. 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 forward through.
Feb. 24, 2016
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.  
About Listen Notes
Podcast search engine with 395,934 podcasts and 23,112,804 episodes. Built by a one-person team. Learn more.
If you find Listen Notes useful...
Follow us
Monthly updates via email (past issues)