Skip to main content
March 25, 2010

Can there ever be a one size fits all solution? Design by Community

3. BloggerGLOBAL – With size and shape the subject of the week for Design by Community, we reached out to Micky Aldridge, editor of and to get his thoughts on size and shape. Our question was simple – can there ever be a one size fits all solution? We asked Micky to review the various form factors we know today and discuss their benefits. Micky got together with some of his friends well, 76 friends to be precise. The man known as MickyFin took to the streets of his local town, Kuopio in Finland, to find out what a variety people wanted from a handset. A bit of field research, if you will. Read on after the jump to find out what Micky found out.

Can there ever be a one size fits all solution? By Micky Aldridge

To find out the answer to the question, I took to the streets of Kuopio in Finland to see what a range of people thought about form factors. We spoke to a variety of folk, ranging in age from 13 to 75, to find out what they thought of existing form factors and find out if one size could fit all.

Touchscreen monoblock

The 5800 XpressMusic device is clearly a big success. It was very popular amongst the younger generation we spoke to (13-28 yr olds) who favoured the touch-only form factor. Most commented on the ease of use, and simplistic control of their Music content, emails, and occasional GPS usage but surprisingly, none of these liked to use a Stylus with the resistive touchscreen.

I’m currently trialling an X6, Nokia’s first capacitive touchscreen. My personal experiences with this are mostly positive, though, I simply can’t get used to the onscreen QWERTY, which I spend more time correcting my accidental key presses than actually creating content.

Even though the X6 has a capacitive Screen, you can however use some of its functionality with gloves on. Recently I was out and about on a rather mild, -13, day and found I was able to take a picture with the X6 even though I was wearing gloves. Sliding the screen unlock key, hold down the camera key to fire up the camera before snapping my shot.

Standard monoblock

This was a popular choice with not only the older generation but also with what I would call, Normobs, people who are not that technical, and simply want a phone for just calls, texts, and not much else.

QWERTY Monoblock

Unsurprisingly, this particular form factor was very popular with the Business/Professionals, specially those in their 30s and 40s – all of whom who liked the ease of use, large screen, and no complicated sliding, or moving parts.  Main usage in this group was email, phone calls, text messaging, and web browsing. I’ve tried both the E71, and E72 myself, and can have to agree with the feedback we got from the survey.


Popular amongst the older folk we spoke to, who liked the small size, specially when closed, and how easy it fits in the hand or purse. Many also liked the second screen typically found on the outside for its call and text notifications.


Of all the people we spoke to, and form factors we discussed, this one had the broadest appeal. That said, a single slide action was more popular than dual slide amongst a range of ages from 25 to 55, most of whom liked the ease of use and simple slide action.

I’m a bit surprised to see the demise of the dual slider. Sure, times change and technology advances, but it seems to be a pretty popular form factor and is clearly popular amongst consumers. It’s all about choice, right? (I’m actually about to invest in an N86 8MP myself). That said, the younger generation we spoke to were positive about QWERTY slider devices, such as the 5730 XpressMusic.

Slide and Tilt

For me the Nokia N97’s form factor is a work of art and a superb design, which I would love to see Nokia use again. It’s so comfortable to use – a joy to write blog posts and update twitter not to mention all the various Social Networking connectivity, email, and watching your favorite films on the go. The form factor was very popular amongst 28-45 year olds.

So what about the future

Whilst preparing this article, I galvanised opinion online, too, and got some interesting feedback on what kind of form factors people hope to see in the future. Monoblock was a strong contender, but with some added functionality – such as touch sensitive back to control onscreen menu navigation and scrolling. Ultra-thin touch was another one, with QWERTY thrown in for good measure. The slide and tilt of the N97 came up again along with a request for an all-weather rugged form factor for out and about.

My conclusion would be that given the varied, mixed responces from all the people interviewed, its very clear that people get familiar, and comfortable with a device, whatever the form factor, but it was also clear the older generation interviewed shyed away from touch only devices. Maybe this is because they too have become accustomed with the older Nokia devices, and fear the unknown. Personally speaking, its all down to user choice in the end.

My own preference for my perfect device would be an N97 form-factor. But then, I would also probably have a touchscreen monoblock as well, along with a keypad device. Why? I’m a Nokia enthusiast, and I love my toys and gadets.

Micky Aldridge is editor of and

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.