Looking for examples of Gui\'s for persons who never seen/used a computer. For example the GUI of the one laptop per child project

25 Feb 2009 - 4:24pm
7 years ago
8 replies
2724 reads
Bas Hoppe

Hi All,

I've been ask to think about a GUI concept for users who have never
seen a computer before.

For the time being and inspiration I look for examples. Things like
the GUI of the "one laptop per child" project:

The things i sort of decided on, are:

- using a touch screen for direct interaction. Non direct interaction
using keyboard or mouse will steepen the learning curve.

- using color coded sections and working a lot with the concept of
spatial recognitition.

- I'm not sure on methaphors because of the different cultural
interpretations of images and cognitive load.

Examples, must-reads and tips are much appreciated.

What are the thoughts.

Cheers and thanx,


Bas Hoppe | (User) Experience Designer
Atos Origin Human Permance Solutions (the Netherlands)
bas.hoppe at atosorigin.com

email: bas at ooitbedacht.nl
twitter: Ooitbedacht

"Make all visual distinctions as subtle as possible but still clear
and effective"


26 Feb 2009 - 2:47pm
Mark Young

What are the scenarios? Why does a person who doesn't use computers
need a GUI?

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Posted from the new ixda.org

26 Feb 2009 - 4:20pm
Katie Albers

I think is looking for answers to the question of GUIs for people who
haven't yet used a computer. Off hand I can think of a number of cases:

1) People looking for work when all listings are accessible through
computers (happens a lot in unemployment offices)

2) People trying to stay in touch with friends/family who have moved
away who find that computers offer the best options for doing that but
who are new to computer technology

3) People in non-techno-centric cultures who find that they must use a
computer to access needed information or services from governmental

4) And of course, the one child, one laptop program benefits children
(and teachers) who aren't computer users.

Katie Albers
Founder & Principal Consultant
User Experience Strategy & Project Management
310 356 7550
katie at firstthought.com

On Feb 26, 2009, at 11:47 AM, Mark Young wrote:

> What are the scenarios? Why does a person who doesn't use computers
> need a GUI?

26 Feb 2009 - 5:06pm
Bas Hoppe

Thnx for the initial answers. Some background.

@ Mark young:
The persons who have to use the interface are illegal persons
(Convicts) who wil be send back to their homeland because committing
a crime. Most of these persons came illegal to our country. Normaly
before sending them back, they wil have an intake, to give them some
knowledge of their competences and information how for example they
can get a new job or a income in their homeland. This now done in
personal conversation. Problem with this is that the person who wil
be send back most of the time, won't corperate and interact. They
simple won't interact with a guard. This is why it's very difficult
to do these intakes. Most of these illegal persons will interact with
eachother. With cames from cultures they come from. By creating a
intermediar (computer) between the guards and the convicts. We hope
we see some interaction and hopely also a direct interaction between
guards and convicts. For this we wanna use computer system with a
coach to help a convict fill in a intake on their own along some
other things. This is done by small tests a interactive coach and
group interaction with other convicts. We already have such a system
for dutch criminals in testing and that seems to work quite good. But
those perons are dutch and most them can read and write.

The foreign conficts can't. Some can, but only in their language.
And a few in english. That why my idea is to create a (non textual)
interface. I hope this makes it al more clearer.

Motivation of use. Well, they have to. No natural motivation. We want
to encourage it by giving some kudo's and priviledges if they at
least try.

Why no qualitive research. These persons are criminals. The only
people who are suited to do some sort of research are guards and most
of them are not good interviewers. A have seen the stats, place of
origin, cultural different and knowledge of devices (radio's,
celphones, tv's etc) For now that al i have.

@Katie Albers
Thanx for making my problem much clearer. i included new info to
explain how this interface will be used.

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26 Feb 2009 - 5:30pm
Vicky Teinaki

Not exactly about GUIs for people who don't use computers, but Paul Dourish
was involved in a study about how electronic trackers affected criminals who
were tracked:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK3F7Y_4YC0 (also on iTunes)
He's also written papers about it:

May be useful for context.


Vicky Teinaki
mob: 021 027 01410

27 Feb 2009 - 12:11pm

I can't find it but I remember reading an article about a touchscreen
UI that was used for intake at a pediatrician's office. Kids were
MUCH more likely to respond honestly to mental health questions
(e.g., do you ever think about suicide?) on a computer than they were
if a doctor or nurse asked them the same question or gave them a paper
questionnaire. So I suspect you are correct that the computer feels
more like a neutral or non-judgmental intermediary.

If your audience is illiterate, you'll need to provide spoken
instructions on the kiosk itself. The start screen might have a
picture of a hand or something that indicates it can be touched. Or
maybe one of the staff can help the user get started by selecting the
right language for him.

You'll probably have some persistent navigation like "help,"
"repeat," "go back" and the like. Explain in the beginning what
these buttons do and highlight them when the narrator talks about
their function. Color cues may be a problem if your users are color
blind, so combine this with common symbols and/or shapes.

Not sure how you will do the intake portion without a keyboard. I
imagine you'll have to present a short multiple choice list (with
photographs?), read the choices to the user, and allow him to touch
his choice. Does it make sense to have them speak their answers to
the kiosk? Privacy, dialect, and enunciation may be problems with

My experience is that people really like touchscreens. If done
correctly, they are empowering to the user and give him a feeling of
control, and in your case, hopefully, dignity.

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27 Feb 2009 - 12:04pm
Praneet Koppula

Hello Bas,

The work done at Microsoft Research Bangalore (Text Free UI for Illertate
Users) might be of some help/inspiration to you.

Here are some links to their work/papers:





27 Feb 2009 - 6:58pm
Bas Hoppe

Thnx again for all your thoughts and idea's

@Vicky Teinaki
I haven't had the time to read the paper, but i think the insight of
Paul Dourish can help me thinking of my problem a different way.

@Praneet Koppula
Thnx for that paper

@Kim Bieler
Spoken language is one of the things we used in the dutch version.
There it worked quite well.

I'm aware of the colorblind problem. Sufficient contrast in the
chosen colors is necessary. Enriching them with symbols was also
basic in the dutch version. For the new version we have be carefull
with the chosen colors this is due to different cultural associations
with the colors.

Your guess on the multiple choice is a good one. The dutch version
works with a drag and drop concept with photo's. By creating
scenario's and multibranche scenario's and monitoring them by the
internal coach and by asking the same information multiple times in a
different setting we can check and recheck.

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