MOBGEN Message February 2015
MOBGEN’s Chief Creative Officer Nick Mueller was born and bred in Perth, Western Australia, moving to Sydney in 2001 to work as Creative Director for interactive agencies in cross-platform campaigns, TV, branding and the fledgeling WAP mobile industry. Fast forward to late 2007 and he accepted an offer to move to Amsterdam with the company that eventually developed into MOBGEN and the rest is history! Nick manages the UI/UX and creative concept/strategy teams, and also heads up the MOBGEN.lab which researches disruptive innovations.
First of all, as a creative, why mobile?
The mobile is the core of your digital life, the center of your connected universe – you have a mobile device within arm’s reach 24 hours of the day. A smartphone represents an extension of your senses: it knows your location (GPS), the things you like and who your friends are (Facebook). The mobile knows where you are going and where you have been, it can provide you entertainment, and in fact it can help you find the answer to anything at all (Siri, Google & Wikipedia). There is perhaps no more ubiquitous technology introduced in the last century, and by being so pervasive, it is disrupting industries and experiences across the board. All those possibilities allow for extremely creative thinking, not so much as a channel but as a ‘digital partner in your life experiences’. Slightly pretentious but that is the direction I believe we are heading in! If you are interested in being at the forefront of technology, why WOULDN’T you want to be in mobile?
Could you provide an example of a project in 2014 that was challenging?
In 2014 we truly developed as a leading company building global mobile platforms, but we also worked on a few ‘smaller’ passion projects. One of those was an app strategy for an American musician by the name of Adrian Belew. This guy has worked with everyone from David Bowie to Nine Inch Nails, and despite being far from a household name, he is famous for innovation in guitar and music. So the strategy we built with him consists of a pair of iOS app platforms – one to distribute his musical and artistic vision, and one to help create it. The first app is the ‘artwork’ called FLUX by belew™ – never the same twice. The second app is the ‘paintbrush’ or audio processing tool called FLUX:FX. Both were incredibly challenging to build, but also extremely rewarding, and luckily both have received 5 star reviews and industry awards (which certainly helps justify all the long hours the teams put in).
Can you describe the creative culture at MOBGEN and what creativity means to you?
We like to think that MOBGEN is built upon creativity and innovation, but this isn’t necessarily driven just by the design team. Killer concepts and awesome ideas come from all corners of the MOBGEN team – from interns, developers, marketeers… even the accountants (thanks Timo & Jeffrey)! The key to a creative culture is allowing and encouraging it to grow within the organization.
Creativity can also be something as simple as a new way to remove a step in a login process, but this could have significant improvements in the overall user experience.
How does the MOBGEN design team work?
Like the rest of MOBGEN, they work hard! They work with both science and emotion. We encourage each designer to have an extremely broad knowledge base on all aspects of mobile, digital, user experience and visual design, but then each person has a specific expertise on top of this, whether it be prototyping, 3D & video, usability testing or simply creating killer photoshop screens. We also like the team to work together on brainstorming and review sessions, both amongst the designers and in combination with the rest of the larger MOBGEN team. So the design team at MOBGEN is a combination of highly specialized experts and polymaths.
Do you have tips and tricks for people who are interested to join the mobile design industry?
Be a sponge, try to learn everything! Don’t rest on your laurels just because you can photoshop a pretty set of screens for an app, the best designers in the industry also have a solid understanding of the technologies behind the way the apps or mobile sites are built. What visuals or interactions are easy for the developers to create, and what processes use too many device resources. Designers do not need to be experts in coding, but an awareness of the general details will make you a far more popular girl or guy when working with a developer.
Also, as a final tip: think outside the screen! Mobiles are basically contextual computers, so use every sense and situation as part of the overall experience that you are designing.
How do you see the future of #MOBGEN and the mobile industry, lets say 10 years from now?
10 years is impossible to predict, even 2 years is a lifetime in this industry! That being said, within the next few years I think we will see a shift away from the idea of mobile as a ‘channel’, or a screen that can capture the attention of users and deliver them your content or functionality. I believe we will move towards this ubiquitous computing concept where the ‘PC in your pocket’ is an almost invisible partner in your daily life, guiding you towards things that are useful or entertaining, and removing friction points or uncertainties.
This will make marketing pretty challenging, as advertising as it is now will simply not work. Brand engagement will come from positive experiences, most of which will be supported or facilitated by mobile devices. Obviously we aim to be at the forefront of all this, so at MOBGEN we say “bring it on!”