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Digital Divide – Can Design Bridge it?
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Digital Divide – Can Design Bridge it?

The digital divide has taken on a new dimension in today’s world. It’s not just about those without access to modern technology but also about those who have access to it but don’t utilize it to its fullest potential. 

As per a review titled “Improving digital literacy in India” by Sumeysh Srivastava, Manager of Public Policy at The Quantum Hub, statistics from the office indicate that although more than 55 percent of Indians have broadband access, only 20 percent possess the necessary digital skills to utilize the internet. This deep digital divide highlights the stark contrast between digitally savvy individuals and those who are not. 

On the one hand, some people are well-versed in the latest technology and can navigate it with ease, while on the other hand, there are people who are intimidated by technology or do not have the skills to use it. The consequences of this divide are far-reaching and impact everything from job prospects to social inclusion.

However, bridging the deep digital divide goes beyond providing access to technology. It requires designing digital technology that is inclusive and accessible. With the right design and approach, we can bridge this digital divide and ensure everyone has an equal chance to succeed in today’s digital world.

An example

Let’s consider a retail company. The company has an e-commerce website, but it is poorly designed and lacks the necessary features to make online shopping a seamless experience. The checkout process is confusing, and the website is not optimized for mobile devices. 

As a result, customers who are not tech-savvy or do not have high-speed internet access may struggle to make a purchase, while others may choose to shop elsewhere. By improving the design and optimizing it for all devices, the company could bridge the deep digital divide and make online shopping accessible to all its customers.

The same is true for any B2B web or mobile app as well. 

Read this blog also: The 4 Areas Of Digital Transformation

How to decode the digital divide?

The digital divide is a persistent problem that affects many individuals and communities. To bridge this gap, it’s crucial to understand the root causes and how to address them. Here are some key points on how to decode the deep digital divide:

1. Lack of literacy:

Many people lack the basic digital skills needed to navigate technology. This can make it difficult for them to access information and services online.

Solution:  Offer accessible digital literacy programs that cater to people with different learning styles and levels of experience. Create user-friendly interfaces that are easy to navigate.

2. Fear or discomfort:

Some individuals may feel intimidated by technology, or worry about their privacy and security online. This can lead to reluctance or avoidance of digital tools and platforms.

Solution: Build trust through clear communication and transparency about data security and privacy policies. Offer step-by-step guidance and support to help users feel confident using digital tools.

3. Lack of trust:

A lack of trust in digital platforms or institutions can also prevent individuals from fully engaging with technology.

Solution: Address concerns by building trust through transparent communication, user-friendly interfaces, and strong data security and privacy policies. Partner with reputable institutions and organizations to establish credibility.

4. Preference for traditional methods:

Some individuals may prefer more traditional methods of communication and information access, such as in-person interactions or print media.

Solution: Design user-centered, technology-enabled solutions that offer a hybrid approach to communication and information access.

5. Physical or age-related limitations:

People with disabilities or older individuals may face physical or cognitive barriers to using technology.

Solution:  Design accessible interfaces and incorporate assistive technologies, such as text-to-speech or speech-to-text, to accommodate a range of abilities. Provide training and support for both users and caregivers.

6. Limited exposure:

Finally, limited exposure to technology and the internet can also contribute to the digital divide, particularly in underserved or rural communities.

Solution: Increase access to technology and the internet through community-based initiatives, such as public Wi-Fi hotspots, digital literacy training, and support for local businesses. Partner with schools, libraries, and community organizations to expand access to technology.

What are the factors impacting the divide?

It is commonly understood that analyzing demographics, geographics, user needs, and user pain points are the essential building blocks of user research. However, one needs to explore psychometrics, firmographics, and market influence to gain deeper insights into a user’s psyche. Understanding these key factors can lead to a more accurate representation of the user persona, allowing companies to provide tailored solutions that address their needs and pain points. 

By delving deeper into the psychological and environmental factors that influence users, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and provide a more personalized user experience. Investing in psychometric research can result in greater user satisfaction, increased brand loyalty, and improved customer retention.

Psychometrics refers to the study of personality traits and individual characteristics that influence user behaviour. By understanding psychometrics, we can tailor our user research to create a more personalized and engaging user experience.

Example for Psychometrics:

Conducting personality assessments to understand the user’s traits such as openness, extraversion, and conscientiousness, and how they relate to their behavior on a website or app.

Firmographics are the characteristics of an organization that can affect its behaviour as a user. These may include the company’s size, structure, industry, and financial performance. Firmographics can provide valuable insights into business users’ needs and pain points.

Example for Firmographics:

Understanding the size and structure of a company to tailor the user experience of an enterprise-level product. For example, designing a project management tool with specific features for a large, hierarchical organization versus a small, flat one.

Market influence refers to the external factors that can impact a user’s behaviour, such as cultural trends, economic conditions, and competitors. Understanding market influence can help us anticipate user needs and preferences and create products and services that are relevant and compelling in a constantly changing marketplace.

Example for Market influence:

Analyzing market trends and consumer behavior to design a product that aligns with the latest fashion trends, such as incorporating bold colors and patterns into a clothing line.

For a more comprehensive understanding of Psychometrics, Firmographics, and Market influence, we recommend checking out our blog.

What are the predictable personas of the divide?

The deep digital divide has created predictable personas characterized by their limited or no access to technology. Understanding these personas is crucial in bridging the gap and providing digital access to everyone.

Senior citizens:

Senior citizens may not be familiar with digital technology, and they may feel overwhelmed or intimidated by it. They may require extra assistance, guidance, and training to become tech-savvy.

Blue-collar workers:

Blue-collar workers may not have regular access to digital devices due to the nature of their jobs, which may not require the use of technology. They may also lack the necessary skills and resources to use technology effectively.

Homemakers:

Homemakers may face multiple challenges due to their limited access to technology, including lack of digital literacy, language barriers, and financial constraints.

Users from a low-income background:

These users may face various barriers to digital access, including limited finances, limited access to digital devices, and limited digital literacy.

Users from under-developed countries:

Under-developer countries may not have access to basic technology infrastructure, such as the internet, digital devices, or electricity.

Other than tech-savvy users:

People who are not tech-savvy may lack the necessary skills to use digital devices, which may cause them to miss out on valuable information.

The Design philosophy to bridge the deep digital divide

To create successful digital applications, it’s crucial to build trust and comfort with users and ensure that the design philosophy is inclusive and accessible to all. This is especially important in bridging the deep digital divide that exists in our society. 

By understanding the unique needs and perspectives of diverse user groups, we can create personalized and intuitive applications, ultimately improving user adoption and satisfaction. With a focus on inclusive design, we can make digital experiences more equitable and beneficial for everyone.

1. Reducing Cognitive Overload:

Simplify the user interface, minimize distractions, and provide clear and concise instructions to improve the user’s cognitive load.

2. Discoverability – Intuitive Guided Flows:

Use a user-centric approach to design easy-to-use interfaces with intuitively guided flows, reducing the need for extensive training or assistance.

3. Time to Task – User Engagement:

Optimize user engagement by reducing the time it takes for users to complete tasks, using innovative tools and technologies.

4. Contextualization- Navigation:

Design navigation systems must provide context to users. Thus, making it easier for them to find the information they need for efficiency.

5. Inclusion- Consistency:

Ensure consistency in design and functionality to make digital platforms more inclusive, providing users with a better experience, regardless of their background or abilities.

6. Emotional-Innovation- Intellectual Innovation:

Introduce emotional and intellectual innovation in digital designs to foster creativity, and curiosity and to enhance the user experience.

7. Education- Value Delivery:

Use digital platforms to deliver valuable educational content that can benefit and empower users, bridging the digital divide by increasing access to information and knowledge.

8. Trust and Security:

Create digital platforms that prioritize trust and security, safeguarding users’ personal information and data, and promoting online safety and privacy.

9. Voice for Accessibility:

Develop voice-enabled technologies that enable users with different abilities to access digital platforms and interact with them, reducing barriers and promoting inclusion.

A Divami Case Study

Divami is currently working on several projects, one of which is focused on the manufacturing industry. Specifically, we have been developing a Saas platform for the workforce and floor management, which provides analytics and workflow management on the factory floor. 

  • Digital factory to replace logbooks 
  • Record, track, and monitor the employee task performance
  • For Stakeholders, Floor workers, C-suite executives

The main goal of this project is to increase the growth of manufacturing lines and improve efficiency, which intends to enhance the overall revenue of the manufacturing industry. However, to do this, we need to be able to track every detail of the manufacturing process.

Unfortunately, the majority of employees in manufacturing industries are not tech-savvy and prefer pen and paper over digital applications. This has resulted in a significant gap in terms of growth and efficiency. The only way to overcome this challenge is to find a way to track every detail of the manufacturing process and increase the efficiency of the manufacturing lines.

For example, manufacturing a bolt requires a sequence of seven steps. By making these processes more efficient, we can increase revenue for the manufacturing industry. The key to success is ensuring all employees are on board with the new technology and feel comfortable using it. This will require designing with the inclusion of all personas and support to ensure everyone can fully utilize the platform.

Divami’s Unique Design Approach

To improve the efficiency and productivity of blue-collar employees, Divami implemented a unique design approach that focuses on simplicity and user guidance. 

  • Value Delivery - Instant Gratification
  • Minimal and Contextual Specific Actions
  • Accessibility - Guided flows 
  • Personalized Color Codes
  • Incorporate Local Language
  • Aesthetic Value - Highly Rich Visuals

Employees can easily update their tasks and use the platform effectively with just a few clicks. The design is personalized with color codes that make their work easier and faster than the traditional pen-and-paper method. Divami’s minimalistic design and simple workflow have been highly appreciated by the employees, who now have a guided flow that presents information step-by-step.

The UI design also considers India’s cultural context, where the platform is used in the manufacturing industry. To make the employees feel more at home, the design uses bright colors familiar to them. Divami also incorporated local languages for help and labeling purposes. The infographics and visualizations used are based on Indian culture, which creates a more comfortable and engaging experience for the users. Overall, Divami’s design approach has successfully improved the efficiency and user experience for blue-collar employees in India.

If you’re curious about our streamlined design process, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and get a glimpse into our approach. Contact us today!

This content is based on a recent webinar conducted by Prathima Inolu in partnership with UXDX. You can watch the recording here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn3xLcvOx3Y

 

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