Icons in mobile phones Comprehensibility differences between older and younger users

Abstract. Mobile phones have become a ubiquitous information and telecommunication terminal used by diverse age groups. Despite research findings that indicate the special needs and skills of senior citizens, contemporary handsets offer limited consideration for them. We investigated whether typical mobile phone icons are suitable for older users, as measured through unaided icon comprehension. For this purpose, we studied 38 users and evaluated 25 icons, which we captured from five different handsets. It was found that there are significant differences in icon comprehension performance between older and younger mobile phone users. We conclude that designers of mobile phone icons have to regard older user groups differently and we describe the qualities of icons suitable to each one of the age groups. Finally, we highlight the need for additional similar research in different ethnic and cultural groups.

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