In a recent column on TechCrunch, I wrote about the mental challenges faced by the world’s offline population of 4.3 billion when trying to use the Internet for the first time. After all, they’ve never experienced the Internet before, lacking what UX experts call a ‘mental model’ of how basic Internet services work or why to even use them. In this post, I’ll shed more light on what sort of mental models are missing, so that the world’s foremost thinkers can come up with the best strategies to fix them.
Missing Mental Models
In the bid to research possible answers to this question, my team and I have been conducting usability tests with the unconnected/newly connected. We’re aided in these endeavors by a highly resourceful South Asian tech incubator, Plan 9, and the usability team of a local mobile network operator, so readers can safely assume a very high level of standardization and quality control behind each of these tests. Below are a few insights gleaned from our findings.
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