Exploring the text free interface for illiterate users : designing an icon-based prototype for mobile phones
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This study explores the topic of interfaces for illiterate users, and more specifically how an icon-based interface for a mobile phone can be implemented to support such users. The thesis will introduce previous research done at this field, and what is included in the process of making interfaces that have no text. Discussion around theory reveals factors that must be considered when designing icons for such an interface. Drawings were collected from illiterate persons, which are used in the development of a prototype that aims at giving a concrete answer to the research question. Heuristic evaluation of the prototype follows the design, revealing errors with the prototype. Results from evaluation indicate that these factors can help a user understand new icons: concreteness, low complexity, balanced level of details and use of action elements. Evaluators also identified low complexity and consistency as positive when interpreting the icons. Use of hands manipulating objects in the icons, providing the icons with a context, was introduced based on drawings gathered in this study, and received positive feedback from evaluators. Conclusions from evaluating the prototype further underlines the superiority of concrete over abstract icons in terms of being intuitive. It was also discovered that evaluators relied a great deal on their expectations of where to find functions when testing the interface. The need for an icon-based help function is present in text-free interfaces, until the icons are truly intuitive. Further testing and gathering of data is required to make sets of icons that represent the intended meaning regardless of the user's cultural background.