Author Archives: Theo Mandel



Mandel is the co-founder and site designer for CoolHotNot, a social website of consumer electronics reviews from trusted technology experts such as John C. Dvorak of MarketWatch and tech blogger Chris Pirillo.

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Zoll Data Systems

Theo Mandel guided the interface design and usability of the next generation of their PC touch-screen and pen-based EMS field data collection and management software, RescueNet TabletPCR. The software is used by EMS and Fire/Rescue ambulance teams in the field to document patient information, history, vital signs, medical and trauma assessments, interventions, and treatment during the entire patient care process up to delivering the patient to a hospital Emergency Room.

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OKbridge is the world’s largest online bridge playing community. Dr. Mandel is OKbridge’s user interface and usability consultant on the company’s website redesign and new product design and development.

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Simplicity Isn’t Simple

KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid! This has historically been a top-level goal for user experience professionals . However, as this blog post describes, achieving simplicity is not a simple exercise. There are many aspects to simplicity. It’s not as easy as saying, “If we look at an Apple UI, that’s our model!” Here’s the post: SimplicityContinue Reading

New book – Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving

Worth a read! New book available (for free!) – Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving Wicked Problems: Problems Worth Solving is presented as a handbook for teaching, learning, and doing meaningful disruptive design work. The book includes an introduction to wicked problems, describing some of the challenges and opportunities of design-led entrepreneurial activities. The text describes the skillsContinue Reading

Finally! Microsoft celebrates IE6 death!

As a user experience designer and prototyper, one of the painful aspects of creating websites is checking browser compatability. With the demise of IE6, there’s one less browser version we have to worry about! Hooray! Check out the article on BBC Technology News!

Phoenix World Usability Day Celebration 2011

“To the heart of design” is a phrase that best describes the largest and most successful World Usability Day (WUD) event produced in Phoenix, Arizona, since its first event in 2007. PayPal hosted and sponsored the event, kicked off with a multimedia presentation of examples from its extensive interaction design team members, numbering 250 strong,Continue Reading

Information Visualization (and some whiskey, too!!)

Very nice example of the discipline called “information visualization.” This is the field best represented by Edward Tufte’s amazing books and courses. On one small notebook page, the complex distinction between the different varieties of scotch whiskey is beautifully displayed. Read the article here.

User Experience Experts are in Demand

As an independent user experience (UX) consultant, this year has been very busy, with more and more companies and clients realizing that user experience and usability is a critical component of any product or device’s design and and development process. Want to know more details on the resurgence of user experience? Check it out onContinue Reading

What Facebook Can Learn From Netflix When Disrupting the User Experience

I love it when journalists don’t let big companies get away abusing their customer’s experience. Here’s the latest user experience blooper, pointed out by Scott Davis at Forbes Magazine: Any time you mess with the user experience, you’re going to risk backlash. If change is based on a solid understanding of your customers and theContinue Reading

Design Tools Get the Human Touch

I was recently interviewed by Beth Stackpole for DesignNews magazine on how traditional CAD and design tool software is being made over to deliver a more natural and compelling user experience for engineers and designers. Here’s my section of the article: Beyond gestures, finger flicks, touch interfaces, and rotating objects around to change orientation, theContinue Reading

Perfecting Military Medical Solutions

View an amazing collection of new military healthcare devices in the battlefield! “With the growing swiftness and capability of today’s technology, medical tools are increasing in their specificity to meet military healthcare needs. The combat environment calls for particular solutions; on the battlefield, where time is of essence, military healthcare providers need the right implement,Continue Reading

EMR Vendors Stress Usability to Attract Physicians

Going back to my beginnings in the new field of building “user-friendly” software in the early 1980’s, usability began a long history as a potential product differentiator in a competitive field. Now, with the onset of a multitude of EMR software programs coming to market now and in the next few years, software vendors areContinue Reading

EMR Usability – Standardization vs Usability and Innovation

This is a classic debate – whether it is nobler to be consistent or to be usable! EMRs have notoriously been both inconsistent and also very unusable. So, what to do – fix the inconsistencies or fix the usability issues? The problem is, fixing one of these issues doesn’t necessarily fix the other! Here’s anContinue Reading

“In Google we trust” – Students poorly advised?

It has become part of the internet vernacular to “Google” something to find out more about it. Once googled, how reliable are the results listed? Are featured listings more truthful or informative than lower-ranked listings? A new study coming out of Northwestern University, discovered that college students have a decided lack of Web savvy, especiallyContinue Reading

NIST, ONC plan measures, testing to improve health IT usability

I’ve worked in healthcare usability for a long time and with the impetus to move all of healthcare to electronic platforms, there have been many, many unusable implementations of EHRs and EMRs. The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and  Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) are working to provide guidelines forContinue Reading

You’re not a user experience designer if…

It is very comforting that the “User Experience” field has become more popular and well-respected over the years. That makes me, as a UX professional, feel good about the work we do. However, as Whitney Hess points out in her blog post, There’s just one problem: not everyone calling themselves a user experience designer isContinue Reading

Charlie Chaplin: Google Doodle celebrates 122 years since his birth!

Friday post – Google Doodle celebrates Charlie Chaplin’s birth with an original video celebrating Chaplin. Google, the world’s most popular and most visited website is known for its celebration of special days and occasions but has only rarely featured a video doodle on its homepage. In the black and white video, Chaplin is moved onContinue Reading

Walmart’s $1.85 billon dollar mistake

Good companies listen to their customers – better customers figure out the appropriate questions to ask BEFORE they ask for feedback from their users! There may be other  factors (economic factors, for example) that may be involved, but this case study shows the dangers of poorly designed user research and the inherent dangers of (just)Continue Reading

User Experience Myths

Similar to the “Golden Rules” of user experience design that I have written about and cover in my presentations and seminars, there are many common myths about users and the user experience. Some myths have been around for many years, such as the myth, “You may not have more than 7 +/- 2 items inContinue Reading