One of the things that I appreciate about Nokia is how they provide access to their leading thinkers and researchers, and the results of their work. They are so successful at sharing insight that I’ve come to think of them more as a company that does research into mobile, than a company that produces amazing product. A counterpoint is of course Apple, recently repositioned as a mobile products company, who outside of marketing language keeps research that may have informed any design a tightly held secret. You never hear the designers on Apples team talk about their ideas nor outside of Jonathan Ive is it commonly known who they even are.
In a recent interview with Malaysian journalist Iswan Ismail, Nikki Barton, Jung Younghee and Robert Williams, three of Nokia’s top designers, described what it takes to come up with a winning mobile phone.
Nikki Barton, head of digital design at Nokia Design Studio:
… good design delivers the goods that are not only pretty to look at, but also work the way people want them to. She says a good design also should let people interact and use their device easily.
At Nokia, the motto is Look, then design …
“As all the models must be user-friendly, designers often spend hours observing how people all over the world use and interact with their phones. They then bring back their new insights to the studios.”
Jung Younghee, research leader at Nokia Research Center:
… her work as a phone designer is mostly about forecasting future trends, focusing on people. “People’s behaviour and motivation change slower than technology, but simultaneously guide its development,”
“The challenge is in coming up with better ways of how we can involve people in our design process, which is essential to the quality of what we deliver” …
“Being connected is still the most important feature, but the definition of what ‘being connected’ means is changing. The mobile phone has become the digital device that people don’t leave home without. They want the phone to suit their lifestyle, whether it be expressing their personal style or customising the ways in which they want to be connected.”
Robert Williams, Design Manager:
“But I have come to realise that you can’t depend solely on your experiences. You need to understand people and what makes them tick,”
… good design always keeps the user’s needs central. “A good design is something that solves a problem simply” …