I had a very inspiring 1-hour phone interview with Peter Skillman yesterday. Skillman is VP Smart Devices UX Design at Nokia. In our phone call Skillman spoke about the UX Design of the Meego platform for the new Nokia N9, which he was hired for in September 2010. He also spoke about Nokias strategic shift towards a cooperation with Microsoft Windows Phone as the future platform on Nokia smartphones and the conditions needed for changing a product-driven organisation into a user-centered.
Before joining Nokia, Skillman was VP of Design at Palm, where he had been responsible for the WebOS interfaces. Skillman studied product design at Stanford University (before he went to IDEO) and was a classmate of Albert Shum, the designer of the Metro interface of Windows Phone 7. The common roots in a design thinking tradition can be felt in both interfaces and were pointed out by Skillman in our talk. The cooperation of the worlds largest mobile hardware company and the worlds largest software developer provides an interesting perspective for the future mobile market and surely will push Windows Phone significantly. Meego and the Nokia N9 however will not be more than a showcase and not even be launched in the major markets UK, USA and Germany.
Looking at the product marketing website and the N9 UX online guidelines, it seems that Nokia for the first time in a while managed to create a coherent product appearance in marketing as well as for the product itself. Skillman’s (and his team’s) authorship can clearly be felt and the liberation from former Nokia branding constraints at all marketing touchpoints has done good not only to the product, but also to the brand. „The experience is the brand“ Skillman said. Nothing new to us, but still something that has to be fought for in many companies.
Skillman’s description of how they created the new font (Nokia Pure, the former was the Nokia Sans) for the Meego Interface sums up his overall UX strategy for the company: „We went from grotesk to humanist“.
The interview with Peter Skillman is the last one in a number of conversations about brand and UX design that will be published as part of the book „Branded Interactions“ end of this year.
Find the well designed N9 UX Guidelines website here: http://www.developer.nokia.com/swipe/ux/
To learn more about the N9 go to: http://swipe.nokia.com/.
To learn more about Nokias new font Pure: http://brandbook.nokia.com/blog/view/item62250/