Poll Results: Does Nokia need to change their default icons and fonts? #n8 #Symbian

| June 17, 2010 | Reply

Yesterday, we made a poll asking

“Does Nokia need to change their default icons and fonts?”

Less than 20 hours later, based on this sample size of 309 (I’m astonished that many voted)

  • 68.6% voted yes to change both icons and fonts
  • 10% voted yes to only changing icons (fine with font)
  • 8.7% voted yes to only changing fonts (fine with icons)
  • 12.6% voted no to changing either icons or fonts

Whilst the sample size is relatively small, for the audience of – Nokia users in general, you guys want icons and fonts changed, and as highlighted in the comments, you guys recognize the importance this makes to the UI.

One of the major confusions with Nokia amongst tech sites is the difference between Operating System (OS) and User Interface (UI) combined with the hardware specifications to give the overall User Experience (UX).

N8 has scored highly on the hardware, but has been bashed on the software front. But this is not because Symbian is a poor OS as some tech blogs would have you believe. Symbian is arguably the most advanced mobile operating system in the world. The achilles heel is that Symbian has lacked a modern user interface that will allow users to easily access and utilize the myriad of features.

It’s like having a Swiss army knife wrapped in duct tape. All the tools you’d want are there but you just can’t access it (easily). A great UI makes all the features easily accessible.

An interesting comment from a Tech Crunch reader, Oflife, describes this situation (on an article about iPhone preorders)

I feel for Nokia. As a stop gap I just purchased one of their budget smart phones, the 5230. Whilst the interface is a total mess, Symbian 60 is a lot cleverer than iOS – there are these little things it does that make life so much easier – such as being able to long press over most items (contacts, URLs etc) and then perform an immediate action on that item without delving into menus. And each area of the home screen is hot, so you can (for example), tap the time to display the full clock and alarm panel, tap the bluetooth logo to switch it off or on, etc etc. All these things matter, it is just a pity Nokia failed to hire a GUI expert to add polish and consistency – they could have owned the world by now.

Let’s hope Apple don’t rest on their laurels and start to add such smarts to iOS because there is more to life than a pretty face, we need an intelligent sex bomb!

The first round of Symbian^1 was relatively diabolical. It felt like S60 3rd edition with a touch screen slapped on. There was minimal touch optimization and inconsistent interaction that made frustrating to use. It improved slightly with firmware upgrades e.g. getting kinetic scrolling – but still left much to be desired, with plenty of obviously idiotic mistakes (such as random 1 or two presses) being left in the interface.

Symbian^3 fixes much of the basic frustrations of Symbian^1. It could in a sense be called S60 5th Edition feature pack 1. There’s no significant changes in the look but it is at a stage where it’s good enough and it works. It isn’t significantly radically different – but then again for now it doesn’t need to be. All the new fixes are just stripping that duct tape off.

Other factors to the equation will greatly improve the over all user experience with Symbian phones. Capacitive touch (as with the X6) is absolutely vital with swishy, finger swiping UI and makes a huge difference. With the N8, you have a remarkable concoction of multimedia magic going on inside that we have never seen before in a Nokia. Strong hardware + strong OS + improved UI (all at a reasonably flagship phone price) = Great user experience.

As mentioned in the original post, more significant changes to Symbian UI has already happened in Symbian^4. But with the focus right now on Symbian^3, this means concentrating on UI elements that can be easily changed that will greatly improve the over all feel of Symbian. Little things such as transition animation, UI theme effects that gives some necessary but practical eye candy (the importance of this itself can be another article entirely – e.g. not enough in Symbian, inconsistent transitions not only between touch/non touch but between symbian touch devices too) as well as the current topic of icons/appearance which as also highlighted, can be easily changed by the user by downloading themes.

But should users have to download themes in the first place?

…the first impression comes from the default theme, plus not all the people are familiar with themes.

Jim on “Should Nokia change their Default icons and fonts”

Whilst it’s awesome that Symbian/Maemo/MeeGo have such versatility on this front, what about that crucial first impression a potential user might have? Would those first time users even be aware of themes? Supposed smartphone users using iPhone are only just having (in an upcoming phone and OS update) user changeable wallpapers!


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Category: Nokia, Rant

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Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@) or email me directly on jay[at]