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Digital technology competence and experience in the UK population: who can do what

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Bradley, Mike 
Clarkson, P John 


Digital interface designers often assume that users will have a certain level of digital interface competence, but this is often not the case. In a previous study in 2010, we showed that frequency of technology use and perceptions of ease of use decline with age, across a range of products. This paper updates and expands this work, presenting results from a survey in 2019 of 338 adults across England and Wales. The survey examined the frequency of use of digital devices and the execution of common computing tasks. In addition, it directly assessed users’ ability to use some common technology symbols and interface patterns using simplified paper prototype testing. The results indicate that technology experience and competence decline with age, and many aspects also decline with decreasing social grade. However, there is no correlation with gender. We identify particular demographic groups with very low levels of digital competence, of which designers should be aware.



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Ergonomics and Human Factors 2020

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Funded by DFT and delivered through RSSB’s TOC'16 project: Towards the Inclusive Railway