Nokia’s Design by Community Phone


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Scott Jordan sent me a link to Nokia’s “Design a Concept Phone by Community
site. I’ve been following the traffic and the dialog for a couple of
weeks. What Nokia is doing is offering a series of interactive design
polls about different aspects of a new concept mobile phone. Here’s
this week’s:

Nokia's Design a Concept Phone by Community

Each week you get to “vote” by moving sliders on a different aspect of the phone design:

• Display and User Interface

• Size and shape

• Materials

• Operating System

• Connectivity

• Camera

• Enhancements

These polls will be followed by the ability to vote on design concept
sketches in May. This appears to be a “serious” design endeavor. At
least there are actual Nokia designers participating in the discussions
and offering some background and context.

As one of the 450+ commenters points out, the polling exercise would be
better, and more valid, if people were asked to specify a few things up
front, e.g., what kind of phone do they currently have and how do they
use (or want to use) their phone. This would make it easier for Nokia
to do some useful segmentation of the design choices people are making
as they “vote.”

Yet, the most impressive thing about this “design by community”
exercise is not the fairly trivial set of choices people make by moving
sliders up and down to express preferences about things they may not
actually understand. It’s the rich discussion and suggestions that
follow. As someone who spends a lot of time gathering customer
requirements from smart customers, I can see that there are a lot of
well-grounded ideas and insights in the outpouring of suggestions that
people have offered. I also find that there’s a lot of context in the
suggestions that people are offering. They volunteer a lot about why
they care about certain functions or features. (Of course, since this
is a public exercise, I imagine that Nokia’s competitors are harvesting
many of these customers’ suggestions, as well!)

The lesson I’m taking away from this exercise is that if you want to
get users talking substantively about design trade-offs, give them
something interactive to play with and to react to—even if the choices
you offer are very basic. The ability to interact and vote gets people
engaged. Then they want to contribute more because they can’t really
express their feelings by moving the knobs. They want to comment (or at
least 10% of them apparently do.) Nokia is garnering a lot of good
customer input (positive and negative) in this “design by community”
effort and a lot of good brand awareness and cachet. I hope it’s more
than a PR stunt and that an actual phone emerges that people can buy.
In fact, a good way to validate the results would be to use the
Muji/Threadless model of getting people to put their money where their
mouths are—which of these models will you actually buy? Place your
order now!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.


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