• Amanda Broomhall

Designing for Simplicity and Peace of Mind

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

In a time where there is a temptation to market as widely as possible, designing for a narrow audience produces better results. The KISA (Keeping It Simple Always) Phone has been designed specifically with the elderly and disabled in mind.

Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

My mother, now in her 90s, sadly has mobility issues, along with a degree of cognitive degeneration. With heavy hearts, my siblings and I recently made the difficult decision to put our mother into an Aged Care facility.

I felt like I was locking her away, and I certainly was taking away her independence. At this Aged Care facility, it is up to the individual (or their family) to organise a landline or mobile phone in their room. Mum had long ago, lost her ability to manage a mobile phone (way too complicated) and even a landline with programmed numbers was pushing it. But I wanted her to feel she still had a connection to the world beyond.

A bit of research and a recommendation pointed us to the KISA phone, from Kisa Pty Ltd, a Melbourne-based technology startup. Ordering the phone was straightforward, we provided necessary details, and it arrived in the post a week later all set up.

Photo courtesy of KISA

What a lovely example of design!

It is so simple to use and ‘fit for purpose’ by catering specifically for the limited use cases of a 90-year-old. Effectively, it is a streamlined mobile phone, with its purpose strictly limited to making and receiving calls.

There are no ‘bells and whistles’, and the visual design is beautiful in its simplicity.

Design Principles

The KISA phone is an excellent example of Don Norman’s six principles of design:

  1. Visibility — It is clear what options are available and how to access them.

  2. Feedback — An explicit use of sound indicates that a call is being made or has ended.

  3. Constraints —The design reflects and responds beautifully to the limitations of the audience.

  4. Mapping — This is the concept that with good design, the controls to something will closely resemble what they affect. It is a phone on which there are several tactile buttons each with a name. All the user need do is press that button and the call to that person is made.

  5. Affordance — This phone needs little instruction; it is abundantly clear how to use it.

  6. Consistency — The same action has to cause the same reaction, every time. With just three options possible, the usability of this phone is excellent.

My mother has not been able to learn new things in the past couple of years when it comes to technology, poorly designed remote controls and phone handsets have been a cause of much stress. On the other hand, the simple design of the KISA phone has meant she could work out how to make a call immediately. She might not use it much, but knowing it is there and she can use it, gives me great peace of mind.

Photo courtesy of KISA

What Excellent User Experience Is

Designers are often proud of the number of smart features they can include in their product. However, for some audiences, the outcome of such an approach merely creates confusion. The folks at KISA, have focused on the needs of a particular audience, identified the critical use cases, and the result is a delightfully easy-to-use product.

Photo courtesy of KISA*

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with this product or the KISA Pty Ltd company but wanted to share an excellent example of good design.

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