Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Cell Phone for Baby Boomers

Designing the Jitterbug cellphone ...

"Selling technology to technophobes may not seem like smartest business strategy, but when the technophobes in question are the 100 million baby boomers and seniors in the U.S., bridging the technology gap starts to look like a real market opportunity.

For mobile-industry veteran Arlene Harris, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Harris is the mastermind behind Jitterbug, a company launched last October that combines a unique mobile phone (designed by Jitterbug and manufactured by Samsung) with a suite of services designed to meet the needs of older users. Because Jitterbug controlled both the product and service design, it's able to deliver a seamless, innovative cross-channel experience, a rarity in the mobile-phone industry.

Providing familiar touchstones to ease the mobile-phone experience became a major part of Jitterbug's design after early research showed that older users found conventions like signal strength meters unfamiliar and confusing. Instead, when you open a Jitterbug phone it emits—get this—a dial tone. "If there's no dial tone, you can't make a call," Harris says. To reach a Jitterbug operator, who can place calls or answer questions for you, dial 0.

Getting Back to Basics
Some elements of Jitterbug's industrial design may seem like quaint throwbacks, such as an earpiece that actually covers your ear and a microphone next to your mouth, not somewhere around your cheekbone. But while these elements undeniably reinforce a sense of comfort and familiarity for Jitterbug's users, they also have practical functional benefits. For example, the soft rubber cup around the earpiece doesn't just make the phone more comfortable, it also blocks ambient noise, making the phone easier to use for the hearing-impaired.

Instead of icons or menus, the phone presents features as a series of simple questions, which the user answers with the bold YES and NO buttons on the handset: Do you want to check your voicemail? If not, press NO and the phone will ask if you want to look at your phone list instead. Jitterbug offers two models: one with a typical telephone keypad (albeit with larger, brighter buttons than most mobile phones) and one with no keypad at all. The Jitterbug OneTouch has just three buttons: one to dial 911, one to reach a Jitterbug operator, and one that can be programmed with a number chosen by the user."    (Continued via Business Week)    [Usability Resources]

Jitterbug Cellphone - Usability, User Interface Design

Jitterbug Cellphone


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