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Making Phones Easier To Use

Simple changes to the design of mobile phones could make them significantly easier for all users. This is the conclusion of research published on 27 January 2011 by the Communications Consumer Panel.

Usability of mobile phones is generally thought of as an issue for older and disabled users. But the Panel has always thought that easier to use mobile phones would benefit everyone and research for this report shows that this assumption was right; all users appreciate phones that are easy to use.

Key findings from the research are that:

  1. A number of simple improvements could benefit all users. The research identified a number of improvements that could be made to mobile handsets that would benefit all users, demonstrating that improving usability can have benefits for mainstream users while at the same time widening access for older and disabled users.
  2. Increased facility to customise could greatly increase usability for a wide range of users, including older and disabled users.
  3. Older and disabled people often do not have the information they need to choose a phone that meets their needs, or know where to get that information.

Watch the video below to see people talking about their views and experiences of using mobile phones.

The report highlights a number of areas in which stakeholders could make improvements that would increase usability for all users, including older and disabled users. Areas where improvements can be delivered are:

  • Implementing basic hardware and software improvements that will increase usability. The starting point should be those areas that would improve usability for all users. E.g. ensuring phones provide feedback to indicate when a key has been pressed, have backlit key labels to make the numbers/letters/symbols on the keys easier to see, and that the phone size and shape allows one-handed use.
  • Maximising the opportunities offered by customisation, with pre-set options that can then be further refined.
  • Testing the usability of phones with consumers, including older and disabled consumers, in a way that takes account of their particular needs. Given the wide range of different needs and the complexity of ensuring that different features work well together, testing phones during and after the development process, including with older and disabled users, will be an important way of ensuring usability for a wide range of potential users.
  • Ensuring the sales and post-sales environment more effectively meets the needs of older and disabled people through a combination of better product availability, information and support.
  • Finding creative ways of providing mentoring and advice that would help people develop the confidence and skills to use the equipment.

Download the full report on Making Phones Easier to Use (PDF 847KB, opens in a new window) to read detailed findings and recommendations.

The research for the report was conducted by Ricability, an independent consumer research charity

If you have any difficulties accessing content on this page, please email us at contact@communicationsconsumerpanel.org.uk