Tag Archives: design

Nokia’s Design for the Future: Focus on What Works

There’s been a crazy fog of speculation surrounding my previous employer for the past few years, and I’ll admit I’m guilty of contributing.  Many of Nokia’s moves during that time have been unusual, counterproductive and even downright bewildering… so it’s hard to blame anyone for wondering what the heck platform-torching CEO Stephen Elop has really got in mind.

Nokia has always been a leader in hardware.  That’s not even open to debate.  Their serious failures have been, increasingly of late, in softer areas.  Operating systems.   User experience.  Marketing.  In no time Nokia’s failure to execute on iPhone-driven paradigms caused it to fall from leader to follower to company-with-a-questionable-future.

No need to rehash any more history, though, right?  Let’s talk about the company’s future… and why my pessimism started to evaporate tonight.  Continue reading

Giving users what they don’t know they want

I spent many years as a product designer, in various fields.  I even had some cool inventions for consumer tools and medical devices that sadly got hung up in former employer bureaucracies.  It’s been so long though since I was heavily immersed in the world of design that I had forgotten some key principles.

Reading Juhani Risku’s clear and well-considered thoughts on Nokia’s survival brought it all back to me.  On page three of the online Register article, he makes the following point:

“There is a philosophy called Contextual Design, every designer at Nokia has been trained in it by the guru Karen Holtzblatt.  Everybody has attended her courses and got her very expensive book signed.  The idea is that you ask the users what they are doing, then design something.  If you think about Apple, they don’t ask anybody.  The idea of users as designers is a catastrophe!

It’s only relevant to evolutionary products, it’s not relevant to blue-sky products.  When you have a blue-sky product, there are no users, and so there are no users’ opinions.  We have to rely on what the desires of users are and trust the designers.”  Continue reading