Human Interface Guidelines/Design Fundamentals/Know Your Audience

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Know Your Audience


The goal of OLPC is to provide children with new opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves. Many children in need of such opportunities have previously had little or no access to computing, and so will be unfamiliar with the laptop and how to interact with it. This will undoubtedly have effects on some aspects of activity development. On the one hand, it means that developers must focus energy into making interfaces discoverable, wholly intuitive, and building metaphors that strengthen and clarify the interface. On the other hand, since the laptop will be the first experience of computing for many children, activities do not have to be overly true to legacy behaviors or expectations. This frees developers to innovate.


Many of the children receiving laptops will be as young as five or six; others will be in their mid teenage years. Additionally, those that receive them at a young age will continue to use them throughout their education. Therefore, it is important to develop activities in ways that scale well across age levels.


The OLPC initiative, by its nature, requires international involvement and participation. Developers must keep in mind the broad range of cultures and languages that the laptops must transcend. In particular, activities should not depend on western icons and modes of thinking, but should abstract ideas to a level that would be familiar to humankind in general, where possible. For instance, consider the camera button on the keyboard. Though one might be inclined to label this key with a small image of a camera and lens, the eye graphic speaks directly to our human capacity for vision, providing a cross-cultural icon that represents the computer's ability to capture what it sees.