Usability Study of the Motorola Razr V3 Cellphone

By Kimberly Melhus Mitchell.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Cellular phones have become a primary method of communication in the United States. In fact, a lot of people opt to disconnect their long-distance service plan because cellular telephone service plans have become so much more economical. These popular devices can also be a very valuable item when a sudden communication need arises.
Graphic Designer Kimberly Melhus, along with two Engineering and Human Computer Interaction graduate students at Iowa State University, Ken Koepecky and Marisol Martinez worked on a project where the project team redesigned a cellular telephone for an audience of individuals 55 years and older. One of the core goals underlying the redesign was that the authors wanted to design a cellular telephone that did not look like it was geared towards a senior audience. Many of the “baby boomers” are very “tech savvy”, and the authors thought it was important to maintain the overall pleasing look of the cellular telephone with easy-to-use features.
The designers took a very popular existing cell phone model (Motorola Razr V3) and created two prototypes that the project team believed made it more accessible and easy to use for older generations. In order to compare the prototype designs to the original cell phone model, the team conducted usability testing at a local Senior Center. Each user was tested on all three devices: the current cell phone model and the two prototypes. The team developed a series of tasks for the users to complete and tracked the time and amount of error taken with each task.
This paper will explain the process as to how the designers developed the two design prototypes, the results from the usability testing, and the recommendations for a final cellular telephone design for this age group.

Keywords: Aging, Usability Testing, Senior Citizens, Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.233-256. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.658MB).

Prof. Kimberly Melhus Mitchell

Assistant Professor of Visual Communication, School of Communication, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

Kimberly Melhus is an Assistant Professor of Visual Communication at Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Arizona). She graduated from Bradley University (Peoria, Illinois) with a BFA in Graphic Design. She received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Visual Communications from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois), and her MFA in Graphic Design from Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa). While attending graduate school at Iowa State, she became interested in the field of Gerontology. She believes in the power of social impact of design. Her research has consisted of design for aging eyes and what designers can do to make things universal for everyone involved.

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