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Design Critique: Products for People

Timothy Keirnan

Our show encourages usable designs for a better customer experience in products and services. Each episode is different, with the only constant being our demand that UX design make our lives better and provide long term value. If you care about design's impact on our modern quality of life, give us a listen. You will hear: * Critiques of products & services we've used thoroughly, * 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.

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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.

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Syed Ibrahim returns to the show to talk with Tim about his side project, Syed's story of creating this web application is a terrific example of doing a minimum viable product. He candidly shares both advantages and disadvantages of releasing an MVP, and walks us through the details of having an idea, acting on it to create something that works at a basic level for a specific audience, and getting it out there to continue learning and enhancing it. You can find Syed at

One of the best definitions of MVP is from Frank Robinson who created the term around 2000, see

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Author Giles Colborne returns to Design Critique to talk with Tim Keirnan about the new second edition of Simple and Usable: Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design.

Simple and Usable is one of the best books on UX we've owned in our careers. The contents are simple and usable just as the title promises, and this is one book that both practitioners and stakeholders will benefit from reading.

Giles and Tim talk for 40 minutes about various topics including

  • Giles' career having progressed along with the UX profession across the decades, moving from basic website design to service design to organizational design.
  • The physical design of the book reflects the theme, and the publisher did not stray from the successful book design of the first edition.
  • How "get out of the office" is still of prime importance today and the crucial importance of field research with our users.
  • Types of users Giles has observed in his career: experts, willing adopters, mainstreamers.
  • The seductive danger of relying on expert users in our designs.
  • How Alan Cooper's method of Personas has been undermined by some practitioners' use of person-less personas when they haven't even talked with or observed actual users. How this risks the integrity of the design profession as much as a user-less usability test would.
  • Working with stakeholders on design projects. Being teacher or facilitator as opposed to "persuader".
  • Don't rush into design. Understanding what's core takes time.

Simple and Usable can be found at its entry on publisher Pearson/NewRiders site.

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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.

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