Design Critique: Products for PeopleAuthor: Timothy Keirnan
13 Dec 2017

Design Critique: Products for People

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Encouraging usable designs for a better customer experience.

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    DC124 Critique: Ford FiestaST

    Eric Penn and Ryan Claffey join Timothy Keirnan for a critique of the Ford FiestaST. We never pretend to be objective on Design Critique, as we are too honest. We admit our biases so you know where our opinions are coming from. In this product category, our bias is small sporty cars with less mass and great handling that let you feel what's going on. The Ford FiestaST is a hot hatchback that won our undying admiration from the first drive.

    Tim calls it the American MINI Cooper, and he ought to know. It's as close as we'll ever get to driving a Labrador Retriever puppy. Tim talks in detail with Eric and Ryan about their customer experiences with the FiestaST, including

    * Encounter
    * Decision
    * Purchase
    * Initial use
    * Longitudinal use

    Eric's first drive of the 7th Generation Fiesta on Belle Isle was captured for posterity.

    Ryan's Protege Garage is also well worth checking out.

     


  • Posted on 21 Nov 2017

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    DC123 Critique: Motorola MotoG4 Android Phone

    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.


  • Posted on 22 Aug 2017

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    DC122 Critique: Garmin BaseCamp, Plus Email from Listener Costan

    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.


  • Posted on 30 Jun 2017

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    DC121 Critique: Garmin Nuvi 2598LMTHD, Plus Email from Listener Katie

    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.


  • Posted on 02 Mar 2017

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    DC120: 2003 Subaru WRX Longitudinal Review

    The Subaru WRX is a legend, and life is too short not to drive legends. The "bug eye" version of this all wheel drive sporty car from 2002 and 2003 was a success worldwide but especially in the North American market where it was the first time we got this car. Later generations of the car delighted owners as well, yet the bugeye models delighted customers in a unique way that the newer cars do not duplicate for all their recent advantages.

    What made the bugeye WRX so attractive then and to this day? There is an analog, mechanical honesty and tautness to the 2002-2003 models, and modern versions are not as "organic" feeling. 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 the 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 maybe, 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. . .


  • Posted on 31 Dec 2016

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