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Nate Fortin has served as the Vice President of Design at Evernote since November 2015, where he leads the team responsible for delivering user interface designs, providing user experience education, driving seamless experiences across product lines and supporting design thought leadership and execution company wide.
Before joining Evernote, Nate was a Senior Director at Motorola Mobile Devices in Sunnyvale, California, where he drove user-centered design practices, high quality design execution and cross-functional design management through the conceptualization and creation of innovative and compelling experiences for Motorola mobile devices such as the widely acclaimed DROID™ by Motorola and the Moto X family of smartphones, as well as the Moto 360 smartwatch. Prior to that, he was the founding Director of the Visual Interaction Design & Branding practice at Cooper, the pioneering user experience design and strategy firm.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Design from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.
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Episode 58: Highlighted Transcript
Evernote w/ VP Design Nate Fortin and Jordan Bryant on Mobile First
Here are the highlights of our conversation with our guest:
- Nate has a fascination for digital product and digital design and how this intersects with making things to solve problems. He grew up in a small town where it’s mostly trees and John Deere tractors and his love for design started with his interest in art. He did not see a career path in art but he saw one in graphic design. He went on and learned the basics and soon enough, the small town boy became immersed in the digital industry.
- During his time in Motorola, he became involved in big projects such as developing the droid experience and bringing it to the masses; and Moto X which was a shift in philosophy at that time as to how we thought of the mobile device.
- What captured Nate’s interest in Evernote is his belief that Evernote’s vision is powerful. How to extend the brain to work smarter and succeed in a world where information is the epicenter of everything we do, this challenge is what excited Nate and got him here.
- Evernote, at its heart, is a product which allows you to create, capture, nurture, and turns your ideas into action. The problem that it is trying to solve is the idea of information overload and our inability to tackle this problem on our own so that we feel more organized, productive, and ultimately, successful. They serve about 220 million users all around the world.
- Their team is responsible for all the product experience in Evernote. To accomplish their mission, they have to be where ideas and information are and they are very platform agnostic. Mobile is the game changer for them and when he joined the team, the first thing he looked at was mobile experience, particularly in iOS. He wanted to make the product more accessible to more people so they started talking to people who used the product and from there, developed hypothesis on how they can improve. They go in with a hypothesis but they focus and observe with the goal of proving themselves wrong rather than finding data to support their notion. You have to commit to this as Nate shares that this is the key to the process. This led to a series of experiments and a lot of learning experience for him and the team. Outcomes from this included a dramatic shift in engagement to the content and they considered this as a great gain.
- The nature of mobile is changing and becoming broader. There are new inputs and products coming into the market for voice and host of internet of things products, for example. This makes mobile ubiquitous and this changes the game. The development in mobile is exciting for Nate as she shares that this is an authentic way to further their mission to bring people back to being in control over the information and ideas in their lives.
Rapid Fire Questions
- What is your definition of innovation?
Innovation is really about being able to solve a problem in a better, authentic way that’s been solved previously.
- Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them and why?
Both are super important so I would probably go with 49% - 51%. If you have a wrong idea, you can build a wrong product right and if you build it well enough, you can even have a marginal level of success. If you build the right product wrong, that will not work. This is why I would give execution a point higher.
- What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
The realization that the even the very best designers are often wrong more than they are not. So work in a way where you test your ideas authentically in order to get to solutions which really make a difference.
- What is your favorite business book?
Radical Candor by Kim Scott
- What is your favorite digital resource?
- What are your favorite apps?
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