Nokia – Flow

Nokia – Flow
A system for managing your phone the way that makes sense to you.
Key words : Service design, screen prototyping, Blue-collar
Skills used: Physical prototyping, user research, interaction design
Team members: Ruth Kikin-Gil, Nathan Waterhouse,Öznur Özkurt,Erez Kikin-Gil
Nokia Advisors: Matt Jones,Petri Tervonen, Chris Heathcote, Jan Chipchase
IDII Advisors:Jan-ChristophZoels, Neil Churcher

“Following a flow experience, the organization of the self is more complex than it had been before. . . yet complexity also involves a second dimension: the integrationof autonomous parts. Without integration, a differentiated systemwould be a confusing mess. “ Dr. Mihaly Csiksentmihaly


Flow Introduction
Flow aims to help self-employed workers to manage their business by transforming the phone’s contentfrom discrete bits of data into meaningful flows ofinformation. We propose a package which consists of an OS shellwhich organizes data in a meaningful way to the user,input accessories which support familiar behaviors, anda backup service which increases trust in the system. This is a new and flexible way for users to manage clientrelationships and jobs through the phone.

“We use old mobile phones as microphones whenwe want toeavesdrop on a conversation because they do not affect speakers with their radiation. ” Tenente Mele, carabinieri capitano, Italy

Read the interviews >>

Flow Concept

What it is? A system for managing your phone the way that makes sense to you. Helping users to manage their business by transforming the phone’scontent from discrete bits of data into meaningful information flows.

How it works? Based on a wiki like system, when you receive or input text into yourphone, the phone underlines each meaningful word or phrase it recognizes,be it someone’s name, an address, the name of a job, or an appointment. Based on that content you can organise your phone around a specifictask, or someone’s name.

A new and flexible way for users to manage client relationshipsand jobs through the phone. Our OS shell is the defaultview of the phone and is based on “wiki” likeprincipals such as:

  • Ad hoc content creation and editing
  • Links and cross referencing
  • Data contextualizing and user taxonomy (Tagging)

The input accessories include digital pen and a dairy made from compatible paper that allow for a natural way to take notes and insert them into the phone. The notes remain in the diary as physical evidence. The backUp service provides automated backups and synchronization to ensure data endurance even when the phone is lost or damaged.

This is the default view of the phone, it’s the shell of the phone- a kind of keyhole into the useful information & functionality thatthe phone contains. Rory made this page, it’s the way he likestoorganise his phone. He calls “jobs” the events he organizes,so he has made a link here called “. Rory wants to make a new jobcalled Amsterdam. Let’s see how he does that. Now he has a blankcontainer ready to be filled with useful data relating to the job.


1. Now the Job is populated with useful specifi c information. We can see that the status of the job is new. 2. The message contains all thenames of the exhibitors. They areunderlined because the phone recognizes that it already has themin the address book.

He clicks done, and is returned to the job summary page. He can nowsee that he has 40 exhibitors in the Job. He can now send summary detailsto the designers.


Background Professionals need to take notesand keep track of information in relation to jobs and people. A problem with information flow is that mobile data is often trapped inside the “applications” model. Each application presents information relative to it’s function, and there is no way of crossreferencing information in an integrated way. Our context is the blue collar, self-employed worker; who works alone or in small teams and is mobile. According to Eurostat, 51% of the working people in Italy in 1999 were self-employed. Potential industries include: Construction workers, Painters, Handymen, Beauticians, Electricians, Plumbers,Gardeners, Event organizers, Interior decorators, Repairmen, Service technicians and Hairdressers.

“We keep everything unless the client says “burn it”, otherwise it may come back and haunt you”

George Szilagyi, tradeshow designer, USA

Read the interviews >>

Task analysis

Method In our design process we have used methods which allowedus to better understand our users. We conducted interviews,explored our users’ environment and the tools they work with. Based on our observations, we mapped their behaviors andactivities. Our belief is that the best designed tools and services arethe result of a deeper understanding of the user’s needs anddesires.

Secondary research In order to understand what defines blue collar workers we lookedat various information sources, such as industry news, relevantresearch, and market reports. Specifically we looked at how mobiletechnology has been useful to the blue collar sector. This researchgave us a fundamental understanding of the area we are designingfor and of pre-existing solutions.

User Interviews We conducted interviews across a range of blue-collar industries. From a captain lieutenant of the Carabinieri (Italian armed police)to painters and exhibition organizers, to name a few. In total therewere eight businesses interviewed. With respect to the time-frame,we spent a great deal of time asking people about their needs andlearning what their pain points were.

Job task analysis In this stage, we mapped the cognitive processes and actionsour users required when performing their daily tasks. We haveassembled a detailed task flow, which we then used as a guide forour design. The information gathered allowed us to understand thegeneral workflow and focus on detailed tasks and activities.

“My phone is full of contacts, I worry about deleting them because I don’t know who they are; I need another list to remind me who they are. ” Piers Roberts, exhibition designer, USA

Read the interviews >>


Our Interviewees: Tradeshow Designer, Tradeshow Worker, Event Organizers, Painters, Construction Manager, Carabinieri Capitano. From left to right: , Constantino Negura, senior Pireno, George Szilagyi, Rory Dodd and Piers Roberts, Tenente Mele


Other concepts


Pointer Camera This collaboration tool allows remote parties toview site details for consultation. It also featureslaser pointing device and remote controlled tripod.


Overalls for your phone Robust interactive shell allows essentialphone features to be accessed withgloves on, and protects the phone inside



Team Phone Get in touch with a team of workerswho are in close proximity to eachother. With this feature, the user cancall, and receive the nearest worker thatis available to get his call.


One button The one button phone addresses thefragility of the cell phone form, andthe need of the user to retrieve his calls,with out risking his phone and data,in extreme situations. This one buttonphone allows remote access to phone’sfunctionality in a robust form withinBluetooth perimeter.


Measuring Phone Attaching user-dedicated peripheralsto the phone can enhance the mobileuser needs. The measuring phone isone example for that. This tool allowstaking house measurements with adigital meter and storing them directlyon the phone. In the same manner, wecan attach to a police officer a microcamera, to the plumber a camera andflashlight and so on…


Toolbox message display This tool allows the user to receiveimportant alerts and messages fromhis phone and project them onto hisnatural environment. This allows him toaddress them or continue working.


Dynamic Demarcation Large digital paper as phone accessory todisplay blueprints and get updates fromthe drawing board. Attach pictures tospecific locations on the plan.

Data Sync Back up important data. Your contactdetails are stored on network, andsynchronized with your office. Allowscollaboration in teams by facilitatingreal-time synchronization of importantdata.


Save as Client Conveniently save new numbers frompotential customers, and allows notesto be taken and saved with the contact. Contact information can grow, to storephotographs about a particular job, toassist with the delivery of estimates andproposals for work. Small print outs can be printed whilst onsite.




Luciano, painter, Italy Luciano is a painter, graphic designer and an event organizer;all at the same time. He has been working as a painter forthe last 3-4 years but not continuously. He used to work fora boss with a friend of his, and then they got rid of the bossand worked as partners. They usually get their clients throughrecommendations and word of mouth. Luciano keeps a notebook to keep track of his work. Hedocuments the details regarding each project. He doesn’t usethe computer to do it because he says writing in a notebook isfaster than computers. Although there is an agenda in his phone, it is not usedbecause Luciano doesn’t like keeping important things onthe phone. The reason being that he lost his trust in thephone after losing all of his precious data together with hisphone. Now he writes all of his contacts and notes down in anotebook in case his phone gets lost. He knows how to back-upthings and is a skilled user of computers but the only thing hebacks up on his computer are his photos, because he runs outof space in his phone. Luciano takes photos of his work to show to potential clientsand keeps them in his computer. ”Q: How do you remember where to go?A: I write it maybe on my work trousers or on a piece of paper “Q: What if you could write it on your cell?A: No! I prefer the notebook, because I can delete by mistakephone entries. Painting is a dirty work, lots of dust, can’t usethe phone for writing. ”“I put my phone in a plastic bag when I’m painting,For protection. ”

Constantino Negura, painter, Italy Constantino is from Moldavia and he works as a painter inItaly. He started by fixing cars in a garage and then movedto a painting company. With the help of an elderly man hewas taking care of, he managed to start his own business. He has a van and always drives to work; he will work evenat distant places as long as the client pays the extras. Heworks in daylight so in winter he works from morning till5 PM, however in summer he can continue until 8 in theevening. He gets his clients through people he knows andhis old clients. Constantino does the administration work either in theevening or in the weekends. The mobile phone is essentialin his life since he doesn’t have a landline. He keeps hiscontact list in alphabetical order, and adds abbreviationsto people’s names to remind himself who they are. Every year he buys an agenda and copies the addressesand other contact information from the previous yearto the new agenda. He carries the old one with him foranother 6 months in case he needs it. He prefers buyingan agenda instead of a blank notebook because he usesthe calendar and the address book at the beginning of theagenda but doesn’t really use the day-by-day functionalityof the agenda. His wife takes care of calculating his budget and writingthings on the computer, he doesn’t do it himself. Hedocuments the work in case he will want to show to hisfuture clients. He takes pictures with his digital cameraand then prints them. Then he stores them around thehouse but he doesn’t remember where they are exactly. “The names in my phone are listed in plain alphabeticalorder but I add small details to the names to remind mewho they are. Paulo. vw. it is Paulo from Volkswagen inItaly. ”“I keep an agenda for work. ” “My wife takes care of myaccounts, she uses word pad. ” “I take photos of my workand print them, they are somewhere at home. ”

George Szilagyi, tradeshow designer, USA George owns a business with a partner in NY; they designand install booths for tradeshows. They also cooperatewith carpenters, suppliers and workers to actually buildthe booths they design. George works on designing thebooths whereas his partner, Peter, is responsible for thenumbers. They usually get their clients through word ofmouth, and ex-clients want to work with them as well. They also have clients they work for every year on aregular basis. George finds it important to keep all the data related to ajob in a folder. He says if the documents are not organizedand kept properly, when a client asks for them later on, itis a big problem to go through the files in the computer tofigure out which is which. He also takes digital photos of his work for his portfolioand keeps them in his computer. ”Before they become jobs, they are back and forth e-mailswhen they become jobs they become a folder. ”


Mr. Pireno, construction manager, Italy Mr. Pireno owns a small construction business withhis brother and they have 10 employees working inthe company. They sometimes hire external workersdepending on the size of the job. In their family businesshe is responsible for the office work while his brother takescare of the fieldwork. They have an office in Ivrea andunless the location of the work is too far away, they usethat office for coordination and such. If the workplace isnot easy to reach, they create a second mobile office in thearea but it’s something they rather not do. For Mr. Pireno, connectivity is very important. He workswith his brother and when one of them is in the office theother is on the construction site and they need to be incontact all the time. This Christmas he bought his brothera new phone just so he can be connected all the time,because his brother used to blame his cell phone for notgetting reception at certain times. Mr. Pireno takes digital photos of some of the sites theyare working on. Sometimes there is prior structure inthe ground that they have to build upon, so they need toknow what was there when they started and how theprocess evolves chronologically. He also photographs sitedetails with his camera phone for the same purpose, butcomplains about the quality of the pictures. He says they don’t take the portable computers to thework site because they are delicate and can get dirtyhowever he says he takes his cell phone all the timebecause he can put it in his pocket to protect it. “I have a camera phone. I use it for taking photographsof construction details. I use digital camera to takephotographs of construction details before we seal off thewalls. ““The relationship between the plans and the photos arenot so close, so if something goes wrong we can alwayscheck. ”

Mike Harrigan, tradeshow worker, USA Mike started up his business with 5 friends and they buildbooths in tradeshows. They travel to the tradeshows, arrivevery early in the morning to set up and start building. Heis responsible for overseeing the process from beginningto the end and also has to document every detail to reportback to his clients daily. Mike uses his phone to establish the order on the worksite;he has to coordinate the people working on the booths. Hesays there are 8000 push-to-talk conversations showingup in his monthly phone bill. He says it is very important to mark the workspacecarefully and keep all the tools within that space. He photographs and documents the work he is doing ona daily basis and reports to his clients by emailing thephotographs from the booths everyday when he getshome. This is an important issue because if something isdamaged in the booth when it arrives, he has to let theclient know; otherwise he will have to pay for it. ”Gotta know your booth, do your homework, gotta knoweverything. ”

Rory Dodd and Piers Roberts,exhibition designers, UK Rory and his partner Piers formed Designers Block in1998. They curate design events both in London andinternationally. They work with a lot of external peopleincluding but not limited to designers, artists, electricians,carpenters, builders and light technicians. They dependheavily on their contacts and the list of these contactsis constantly growing. The business they are doingrequires them to be highly mobile, since they travelfrom one exhibition space to another and sometimesinternationally. Rory and Piers travel often to their exhibition locations. They prepare excel sheets containing contact informationand other details related to the work, print them out andcarry them around wherever they go. They don’t useportable computers as mobile devices but more as a sourceto refer to, like a book. Piers currently has 400 names in his contact list and hedoesn’t remember most of these names. Rory deletes someof the people he knows from his contact list, because heis afraid to delete numbers if he doesn’t know who theybelong to. ”I would press the magic button and the phone willtransform into a laptop and back again”Rory Dodd

Tenente Mele, Carabinieri Capitano, Italy Tenente Mele has been in the Carabinieri organizationfor 11 years. He is in a fairly high rank position; he isresponsible for all of the Piedmont area in northern Italy. His job is to coordinate between the carabinieri on dutyand the higher ranks. Most of the day he stays in his officedoing paperwork but sometimes he goes on locationlooking over the operations and reporting what goes on tohis superiors. Tenente Mele was given a basic cell phone and a simcard as part of his job. Because of the nature of his job,he always needs to be there, always connected. Howeverhe doesn’t use the phone he is given but his personal cellphone instead. It’s a new cameraphone with a color screenso he can use his daughter’s photos as wallpaper. He sometimes takes photos of the crime scene with hisdigital camera in the phone, but these photographs don’tcarry any legal value, they are purely for personal usage,to remind him of the event if it comes up in the future. The other carabinieri do this as well and they all have 16MB storage space each on the carabinieri servers for thispurpose.


012 web site
Designing for the on line community
Key words : web design , multimedia, on-Line branding, information architecture
Skills used: graphic design, flash web interfaces, illustration,, which is one of Israel’s largest ISPs, was about to launch at 1999. With two strong competitors, already embedded in the Internet arena, needed to establish its brand off line as well as online. brand was about Freedom.
Freedom means Letting the users choose what to do on the web, when to do it and how to do it their own way. It means surfing without boundaries (even in the pre ADSL days).

Another essential message was “We understood the web better than anyone else”.
Not just the technology, but also the users and their needs.
This understanding enables them to provide their users with what they really want, through the best technological means.

When adjusting the brand to the web we wanted to come up with a solution that will answer both the company’s objectives and users’ needs. We set ourselves the following goals:

  • Strengthen the brand
  • Create a meaningful and valuable experience to the user
  • Connect the user to the brand; conceptually and emotionally
  • Fulfill the brand promise: make a novel & innovative online experience that will excite the users and deliver the freedom feeling through interaction, visual and content.
  • Create rich media site that works fast even on low bandwidth

Then, we had to do it all in a very short time…

The Design Process
Market research:
What is the market like? Who are the competitors and what is their web presence like? Who would use the portal? What are those users’ needs? What would be the content they’ll want from this site (at their short but frequent visits) and how should this content be presented?

As we went farther on with our analysis we came up with few conclusions, the primary one was that we wanted to position the site as the surfer’s friend. As their friend, it informs and recommends new possibilities to surf the net & cool places to go to; we wanted to expand the surfers’ horizons and give them the feeling of real choice.
We wanted them to put their defenses down and enjoy, because this is what the surfing experience should be about: Freedom and fun.

Our Solution’s site was a portal that looked and behaved differently from existing portals at that time. It had to be relevant and attractive to the users, which reflected most social classes, ages and professions of the Israeli society, and ranged in their computer literacy from novices to experts.

In order to achieve our goals we created an interactive, dynamic web site, filled with attractive content and activities to the surfer (as well as business information and online campaigns). The information and recommendations supplied in the site were various and changed constantly.

It was built with flash technology that enhanced the energetic and vivid feeling, and enabled us to expand the interaction possibilities of the site.

A Back office module was created to enable the content people to update the site on a regular basis, and keep it a vibrant and relevant source of information. (It’s Freedom for the corporate workers as well as for the site users).

Quick tour around the site
Private customers section
Main information area (1)
Greets the user for entering the site, Contains company’s messages, short explanation about the site and short announcements.

Daily web recommendation (2)
As a good friend would do, we prepared a list of the hottest and most interesting events and sites. The list is frequently updated, providing the users a reason to check’s site on a regular basis.
The list is comprised of “recommendation items” such as: “Want to find love?”, “want to monitor your finance activities?” “Need to catch a last minute flight?” “Want to chat with Brittany?”

When hovering with the mouse above each item an “Information bubble” (a representation of the logo) appears and adds some extra information as to the content of the link.
I. E: live chat with Brittany Spears, today at 3 PM on

Clicking on the item launches a new window with the requested link.

Web directory (3)
Indexed list of sites which cover many topics our potential users might find interesting. These include: News, Essential information, Games, Entertainment, leisure and lifestyle etc. The crop of Israel’s web sites is presented there.
Clicking on an item launches a page that contains links and explanations about their content.

Main navigation bar (4)
The main navigation bar is located on the upper part of the screen and contains links to all other sections of the site.

The links are divided into 3 groups according to importance and use frequency. Each group of links has a distinctive appearance and interaction method:

  1. Links to other sites:
  1. Links to sections within the site:
  2. When clicking on a section’s name, a docking menu appears, allowing the user to drag it and place it anywhere on the screen (Freedom, remember?). The menu can be minimized or closed completely.

  1. Links to the business solutions section’s slogan (6)
This slogan says “We understand the net. We understand YOU”

The site displays a selection of images that were chosen to convey and emphasize the brand’s messages.
Guiding keywords were chosen:
“Freedom”, “Imagination” and “unlimited possibilities”.

We wanted images of people, who are in a happy mood, in a dynamic body posture (that implies on freedom and fun), expressing their joy in a physical way: jumping, laughing etc.

The desired atmosphere was welcoming and cheery, greeting our users with open arms and big smiles, making them feel as their visiting friends.
The images were stored in a database and a random image was displayed each time.
Here are some examples:


A transitional animation was created to maintain the dynamic feeling:

Daily greeting (8)
As another means of creating the welcoming feeling, a daily greeting mechanism was built, greeting the user according to the day of the week (I. E: “Have a peaceful Saturday” or ” Wish you a happy Monday”).

Business Solutions Section
Businesses had to be approached differently than private customers. Separated from the main site, and reached through a special link, this section supplies information and incentives for businesses to use’s internet services.

Content features:

  1. Main information area: provides information regarding the unique services offer their business customers
  2. Web directory: contains relevant sites Navigation features
  3. Main navigation bar (+ docking menus): The basic structure and interaction methods were kept in this section as well in order to keep consistency throughout the site Branding features
  4. Imagery: Changes were prominent in the appearance. A “business like” color scheme was devised and a more business oriented imagery was selected. The “Freedom” motive was still kept.
  5. logo
  6.’s Business slogan:
    “We take care of communications. You take care of business”

The results

The launch was a success.’s site generated great interest and heavy traffic, which resulted with rapid market penetration and brand impact on the market.


This blog is focused on service, experience, interaction and innovation design. It is maintained by Erez Kikin-Gil (erez [AT], an experience designer.