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LONDON, England – Think about the Nokia N8.  What image do you see? An image of blue skies and tall blades of grass? That’s the wallpaper you’ll find on every N8 product advertisement, in every television commercial, and every retail shop.  It’s the first image potential consumers will see when they first test the device. First impressions are everything.

I sat down with Nokia designers, Robert Williams and Steve Little to chat about Symbian Anna’s new wallpaper and theme, “City Lights”, and discussed what makes a great wallpaper.

“The wallpaper is the first touch point for consumers,” said Robert Williams. “Just as people give first impressions, so do mobile devices.”

A great wallpaper should gravitate retail customers to the device. It should show off the quality of the screen – is it a big screen? Is it bright? The vivid colors of a wallpaper demonstrate this the best.

A great wallpaper melds well with the UI. The Symbian UI is quite informational – on the homescreen you have icons, widgets, e-mails, calendars and more. The wallpaper needs to present this content well, yet still be inspirational while fitting with the brand’s values.

Since the same wallpaper is found on every device around the world, it needs to appeal to a wide audience.  With the Nokia N8 we saw nature images. In Symbian Anna we see more of an urban outlook, yet fluid and organic – it illustrates the new Nokia branding perfectly.

“The challenge is creating a new perspective on something that’s familiar,” said designer Steve Little.  There’s an infinite amount of possibilities out there. Do you use a real life photo, like something people could take themselves? Or something unreal and even magical?

When I asked the two if they get offended when consumers quickly change their wallpaper, the designers laughed and said, “Of course not!  Sometimes it’s the first thing new device owners do. We know that people have different opinions. Our goal is to make tools and framework so people can customize it themselves.”

What do you think of the newest wallpaper?  What wallpaper do you use?  How often do you change it?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!