Designing for Older and Inexperienced Mobile Phone Users

Designing for older and inexperienced
mobile phone users


Martin Maguire and Zaheer Osman


Ergonomics and Safety research Institute (ESRI)

Loughborough University

Holywell Road, Holywell Way

Loughborough LE11 3UZ, UK,





It is commonly suggested that a simpler mobile phone be made available for inexperienced users, including those older users. It is thought that this should have fewer functions, larger keys, bigger characters on the display etc. Yet while the idea of a simpler phone appears to offer a clear market opportunity, it should be remembered that, with the power of fashion, modern design and advertising, inexperienced users are likely to want to own a mainstream phone, rather than a special simpler one. Similarly, while there is a perception that inexperienced users just want to make voice calls, it is quite likely that they will also want to make use of new information services that are being developed. This paper presents the results of a series of studies with inexperienced and older users of mobile phones. It explores the problems that such users currently experience with mobile phones and the design issues that result. It looks at the kind of functions and features that such users would want in a new phone and reviews their interest in location-based services.

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