What’s wrong with UX – the binger aversion guide

When I started studying UX Design in the long ago time-before-time (fall of 2022) I promised myself that I’d abandon all other projects and cut back on distracting reading – giving myself time and energy to focus on the studies. This worked well for a week or so.

Turns out there are whole books written on ethnography, design and usability, and they are rather interesting – who knew! Anyway, I quickly got bogged down with extra courses and books and podcasts and so on and so forth. I took to walking an hour and a half to school just to have time to speed-listen to at least some of the stuff that’s out there.

Screengrab of six images from my Instagram account
Some images from my Instagram which gets no love. Go follow!

One of the podcasts that I stuck to was “What is wrong with UX,” hosted by Laura Klein and Kate Rutter. It’s now defunct, but the archive is still up at usersknow.com/podcast. Since I’ve listened to all 130 or so episodes I figured that I’d put together a selection most interesting to me as a beginner in the field. The show doesn’t rely much on callbacks, so skipping episodes isn’t that big of a deal.

An assumption about you: The selected episodes were useful as a complement to my full time UX Design studies – they gave a deeper understanding of the practicalities of what I was learning in school and reading about on the side. I’m assuming that this podcast isn’t your first exposure to the field of UX Design.

A note for us non-USA people: Americans love to talk and this podcast is no exception, but after an episode or two you’ll be able to look past the dad-jokes and forced geniality, and appreciate the content. Klein and Rutter are knowledgeble and passionate about their skills, and it’s worth sticking with the show to hear what they have to say. As a side note, I can recommend Laura Kleins book UX for lean startups as well as her course in Agile methods for UX Design over at IxDF [affiliate link].

The shows listed are in order of publication, and the descriptions are their own.

  • C-FWOTS: Kate and Laura talk about C-FWOTs or Colossal Fucking Wastes of Time. What makes a design project a C-FWOT, and how can we avoid them?
  • Don’t be a UX Designer: In this episode, Kate and Laura bitch about some of the most annoying things about being a UX Designer and do everything in our power to keep you from becoming one. You’ll thank us later.
  • The Worst Clients: In this episode, Kate and Laura talk about terrible clients (no, not by name. we’re not committing career suicide just yet.) and how we can deal with them better as UX Designers. If you work with other people as a UX Designer, this one might be helpful. If you have worked directly with clients, consider this a possible trigger warning.
  • 6 Things We Wish We Had Known: Kate and Laura talk about the things we wish we’d learned earlier in our careers as UX Designers.
  • Stop Arguing with Feedback: In this episode, Kate and Laura discuss how to take the feedback you asked for a little more graciously and maybe even benefit from it. Do not, in any way, think that this is a request for you to give feedback to Kate and/or Laura. Yes, we understand the irony, and no, we’re not having any of it.
  • Why You Should Care about the Business Model: In this episode, Kate and Laura give five reasons why everybody, even designers and researchers, need to understand how their products and companies make money.
  • Collaborative Design: In this episode, Kate and Laura fight about what it means to design things collaboratively and the ways in which everybody seems to screw it up. Hint: collaborative design does not mean everybody makes every single decision together! This is not a democracy, people.
  • Old Research Stories: In this week’s episode, Kate and Laura reminisce about old research stories and how much better things were before. Ok, mostly they talk about what’s still true of the things they learned in old research and what’s changed.
  • Starting Your Own Thing: In this episode, Kate and Laura give sketchy advice about starting your own freelancing or consulting business. Reminder: you should probably not take legal advice from drunk people on the internet.
  • Designing Beyond the Screen: In this episode, Kate and Laura complain about screen-based designers again. They also talk about designing for multi-modal interfaces in a failed attempt to sound modern and like they haven’t been doing this since the Paleolithic Era.
  • Choosing the Right Deliverables: In this episode, Kate and Laura talk about not wasting time making the wrong stuff. You’ll be completely unsurprised that what sorts of deliverables you should make for your team depends entirely on who you’re making stuff for and what you want out of it.
  • Whiteboard Challenges: In this episode, Kate and Laura talk about how to be better at whiteboard challenges if you can’t avoid them entirely, which you can’t, so just deal.
  • Protect Your Users froom Each Other: In this episode, Kate and Laura talk about how and why to protect your users from each other while they slowly lose what little faith they still had in humanity. Happy New Year.
  • Craft: In this episode, Kate and Laura argue about The Craft, which relates to neither witchcraft nor macrame owls, so honestly why do they even bother? Seriously though, tune in for 30 minutes of blathering about what words mean.
  • Should Designers Lead: In this episode, Kate and Laura discuss something (semi) topical. They argue about whether designers should lead and then of course somehow veer into what design even is anyway and it’s pretty much a typical mess.
  • Tips for New UX Designers: In this episode, Kate and Laura attempt to give advice to new UXers (something neither of them has been since dinosaurs roamed the earth). Laura advocates violence, surprising nobody who has ever met her.
  • Design Principles: In this episode, Kate and Laura take a decidedly unprincipled look at design principles. Kate proves that drinking does, in fact, affect your memory, when she completely forgets Laura’s entire work history.
  • Designing in Triples: Kate explains why she likes to make everything three times as hard as it needs to be. If you’re playing the What is Wrong with UX drinking game and drinking every time they mention Task Flows, then maybe don’t make any plans for after the podcast.
  • High Level UX Jobs: In this episode, Kate and Laura really go off the rails talking about the similarities, differences, and issues with various different higher level UX jobs, many of which they haven’t actually held in well over a decade, if at all.

If you’ve listened to the podcast and would like to suggest another episode to add to the list – or one to take away – feel free to comment below of get in touch over at Linkedin or email. And if you know of other curated lists of podcast episodes, let me know! The amount of info that’s available online is massive, and with all search engines being choked with listicles written by drunk potato AI:s and content farms, finding the good stuff is time-consuming.