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GLOBAL – If you want to connect ‘The Next Billion’ you have to be innovative. Nokia is famous for having local languages on its phones – but what if you cannot read, or have learning difficulties, or are just afraid to approach technology?  Obviously, the normal written user guide is of no use

So Nokia set a team of experts from its Care, Content Management, Nokia Design, Visual Communications and Packaging teams to take on this challenge. Their answer was a first in the mobile industry – a visual user guide, for people in growth markets who are illiterate or semiliterate to help them make the most of their mobile phone.

According to Minna Vänskä, who worked on the team, “The idea for a visual guide originated from the fact that Series 30 phones are often sold to first time users in rural areas and the number of illiterate or semiliterate consumers wanting to use a phone is rising.”

In fact, the fastest growing segment in the mobile industry is in the ‘low end’ with the category of phones priced at 100 Euro or less as millions of people reach out for their first mobile and internet experience.

Minna said, “To help consumers make the most of their phones we wanted to create a guide that is based on clear, simple visuals, brief, to-the-point, with exact steps and which shows benefits that are relevant to the consumers.

“We explored a number of concepts and then created a simple and easy-to- understand guide using graphics and icons. We replaced written pages with simple graphical steps. We also did consumer studies in the UK, Nigeria, India, and China, where we interviewed people who were semiliterate, illiterate, or dyslexic in order to ensure that the guide would meet their needs.

Nokia Visual User Guide
Nokia Visual User guide closeup

Their feedback was extremely positive: ‘This is amazing. I wish all user guides were like this!’”

The first visual guides went to production in October 2010 in 10 languages and continue to be introduced for Series 30 devices today. Feedback from customers continues to be very positive.

One of the additional benefits has turned out to be savings for the environment as the guides use much less paper.