To make a mole hill out of a mountain : challenges in designing a recognizable GUI for an e-newspaper service on small screen devices

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Sektionen för Informationsvetenskap, Data– och Elektroteknik (IDE)


The purpose of this study was to: obtain and review guidelines for designing on a small screen

from several theoretic sources and to purpose own guidelines for this context. There was

chosen for the development of 3 different prototypes meant for the use on 3 different mobile

devices. Those mobile devices had a different screen size and were: an e-reader, PDA and

mobile phone. The prototypes provided the user with a future e-newspaper service (a TV


First design principles for good usability on small screens were abstracted from literature.

With this knowledge the three prototypes were developed. The development started with

writing down the functional and user requirements for the prototypes. After that the

developing process had two stages. The first stage was a low-fidelity prototype, this were

sketches of the graphical user interface that was commented by users. The second stage was

a high-fidelity prototype, this stage consisted of three fully functional prototypes. The three

different prototypes were used in a user evaluation. After the evaluation interviews with the

users took place to obtain additional information.

In this research the main question was: “What are the challenges for designing the

(graphical) user interface, as a part of an e-newspaper service which is aimed at use on

multiple devices with heterogeneous screen sizes, to be recognized as the same service?”.

The results from this research are three challenges in designing the (graphical) user interface

for devices with small screens. These challenges are: how to make the user recognize the

service in the software (recognition of service), how to develop one service on multiple

devices (use on multiple devices) and how to develop software that it is useful and pleasant

to use (usable software). In total fifteen guidelines derived from theory were found, this

research shows that thirteen of them are applicable when designing for small screens. Three

of those thirteen are reformulated in this study to make them fit better in the context. Next to

this, seven additional guidelines were proposed in this study. Examples of the purposed

guidelines are: reconstruct the layout from the non-digital service in the interface as much as

possible, explore the targeted user group, built further on their mental model and pay

attention to possible disabilities of the group, implement extra’s that give users a good reason

to use the service and make it easy for the user to select the sought information.

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