Investigating the Use of Email Application in Illiterate and Semi-Illiterate Population

  • Salman Ahmed UET Peshawar
  • Sadeeq Jan
  • Imran Maqsood UET Mardan
  • Zahid Wadud UET Peshawar
  • Iftikhar Ahmad UET Peshawar
Keywords: email usability, user interfaces, semi-illiterate, Illiterate


The use of electronic communication has been significantly increased over the last few decades. Email is one of the most well-known means of electronic communication. Traditional email applications are widely used by a large population; however, illiterate and semi-illiterate people face challenges in using them. A major population of Pakistan is illiterate that has little or no practice of computer usage. In this paper, we investigate the challenges in using email applications by illiterate and semi-illiterate people. In addition, we also propose a solution by developing an application tailored towards the needs of illiterate/semi-illiterate people. Research shows that illiterate people are good at learning the designs that convey information with pictures instead of text-only, and focus more on one object/action at a time. Our proposed solution is based on designing user interfaces that consists of icons and vocal/audio instructions instead of text. Further, we use background voice/audio which are more helpful than flooding a picture with a lot of information. We tested our application using a large number of users with various skill levels (from no computer knowledge to experts). Our results of the usability tests indicate that the application can be used by illiterate people without any training or third-party’s help.

Articles on Computers