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ICT4D@Penn Seminar Series: “Designing User Interfaces for Novice and Low-Literacy Users”

March 22, 2012
04:00PM - 06:00PM

Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500
3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, 19104

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Categories: Seminar

Abstract: One of the greatest challenges in developing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for global development is that 41% of the population in the least developed countries is non-literate and even the literate among the poor are only novice users of technology. I will describe work we have done over the past 6 years in Text-Free User Interfaces. Text-Free UIs are design principles and recommendations for computer-human interfaces that would allow a first-time, non-literate person, on first contact with a PC or a mobile phone, to immediately realize useful interaction with minimal or no external assistance. Through an ethnographic design and iterative prototyping process and rigorous user evaluations, involving more than 700 hours of field work and 570 study participants from low-income, low-literate communities across India, the Philippines and South Africa, we established design principles that could apply to UIs for non-literate groups new to ICTs.

Bio: Indrani Medhi is an Associate Researcher in the Technology for Emerging Markets Group at Microsoft Research India in Bangalore. Her research interest is in the area of Ethnographic UI Design and Technology for Socio-Economic Development. Her current work has been in UIs for Novice and Low-Literate Users. She has a Masters degree in Design from Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. Currently, she is also a 4th year Ph.D. student at the Industrial Design Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, (IIT Bombay), India. In 2010, Indrani was listed in the MIT Technology Review’s TR35 list of “outstanding innovators” under the age of 35 and featured in the list of “50 Smartest People in Technology” in 2010 by Fortune magazine.