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Specialist Task Force 285:

Enabling and Improving the Use of Mobile e-Services

We developed two ETSI Human Factors Guides:

   1. EG 202 417: Human Factors; User education guidelines for mobile terminals and e-services; and
   2. EG 202 416: Human Factors; User Interfaces; Setup procedure design guidelines for mobile terminals and e-services

Who we are:

Team Leader : Bruno von Niman

Team Members : Martin Böcker
Matthias Schneider-Hufschmidt
Margareta Flygt
Pascale Parodi
Pekka Ketola
Michael Tate
David Williams

Latest news

Both ETSI Guides have been published and the STF is under closure, following the performance of final reporting to ETSI TC HF, the EC and EFTA

The final documents are available through the links below.

What we do :

We developed two ETSI Human Factors Guides:

   1. EG 202 417: Human Factors; User education guidelines for mobile terminals and e-services; and
   2. EG 202 416: Human Factors; User Interfaces; Setup procedure design guidelines for mobile terminals and e-services

The work item references in the ETSI Work Programme (Human Factors) for these actions are:

DEG/HF-00069 “User Interface Design Guidelines for Mobilee-Services” (will be published as EG 202417,“Human Factors; User Interfaces; Setup procedure design guidelines for mobile terminals and e-services)
DEG/HF-00070 “Guidelines on User Education for Mobile Terminals and e-Services” (will be published as EG 292 416, “Human Factors: user education guidelines for mobile terminals and e-services”.
Read our Terms of Reference

Why we do it:

Information and communication technologies (ICT) play a key role in the everyday life of many people and mobile communication services are a mass market (in 2004, at least 80% of EU citizens were using them).

New applications and e-services are increasingly used to perform necessary or entertaining tasks. Connectivity and interoperability between telecommunications networks, personal computing, the Internet and ever-smarter mobile devices and e-services offer enormous potential for improving life, if used as intended and used by all. Users who cannot understand and learn how to efficiently set up, configure and use their devices, e-services and integrated or additionally offered applications will be permanently excluded from the e-Society. Ensuring access to mobile communication for all is a common goal of vendors, operators, service providers, user associations, as well as policy makers, often talking about the creation of the e-inclusive information society.

In the past, the question of the “digital divide” defined the “haves” and “have-nots” mainly in economic terms, dividing those who can afford new technology from those who cannot. Technological progress in network and infrastructure deployment and manufacturing and economy-of-scale effects in household availability and service provision make access to e-services affordable to the largest proportion of the European society. In the mean time, a new facet of a possible “digital divide” becomes visible, namely the one that is related to the comprehension of how to use new devices and e-services. This latter aspect of the “digital divide” has direct economic and societal consequences as the uptake of mobile e-services will only be at a successful level if the new devices and e-services can actually be accessed, set up and used by the European citizens.

Many users of mobile services experience serious difficulties trying to set up, configure and access data services like e-mail, Internet or messaging (SMS, MMS, voicemail) through their mobile devices. Users lack the expertise necessary to configure and set up their devices, services and applications appropriately. Furthermore, even the configuration of device properties to the desired behavior is often beyond the users' abilities.

These obstacles to a full use of fixed and mobile broadband ICT e-services are even more emphasized by a number of developments in society:

  • Changing population demographics: The number of elderly people and people with special needs is growing rapidly, requiring additional support and dedicated efforts for those unable to cope with every day’s technology.
  • Population mobility: As more and more people access e-services from mobile devices only offering limited user interface capabilities, it is required to optimize the user experience of terminals with focus on service access and use of the accessed e-services themselves.
  • Increasing user expectations: Users are getting used to plug-and-play systems with fully configured components. Similar, natural expectations are automatically projected to mobile e-services and must therefore be addressed.
  • Advanced e-services deployed with a social interest (e.g. telecare services) without a certain level of pre-requisites these often advanced e-services build on (e.g. comfort of use, development of a trusted relation, basic skills and familiarity), such e-services will not be able to launch.
  •  Access to e-services by all: In order to close the accessibility gap between technology-aware and conservative or less skilled user groups, it is necessary to offer access to e-services for everyone.
  • Increasing variability in the segmentation of customers: from children at the age of 6 or 7 years to senior users aged over 80, members of the entire community will develop specific reasons and request access to broadband e-services.
  • User’s inability and lack of interest to cover important (but in a normal, user-centred, functionality-oriented scenario, less relevant) aspects of their communication such as security aspects: according to recent reports (Gartner Group Conference 2004: IT Security Summit), more than two thirds of the successful hacker attacks on wireless clients are due to unsatisfactory configuration of access points and clients.
  • Human resource limitations: the complexity of mobile e-services exceeds the ability of many users while personal assistance and support cannot be easily offered at an affordable cost.

As the hurdle to using remote services is the highest for first-time users with limited capabilities, there is a need to simplify first access to services as much as possible, provide clear guidance on configuration and use, as well as providing a clear description of service features and the limitations of specific services.

Therefore, understandable set-up procedures and the availability of educational material become very important. Even with fully automated set-up procedures, user guides and quick reference guides will be necessary for day-to-day use, as fully self-explanatory user interfaces are far from becoming reality on today's devices with their user interface restrictions and limitations. Furthermore, human memory is far from perfect - users will always have a tendency to forget already learned usage procedures or specific subsets of them (e.g. passwords or commands) over time.

From the perspective of digitally networked homes and society and in order to be able to make proper use of the smart solutions and devices deployed, it becomes more important than ever that users are enabled to understand access and use the offered capabilities. Future architectures assume that users will select service providers independently of the access mechanism, roam between delivery networks, based upon their subscription profiles and define their service needs with regard to the quality, security, privacy and cost of the service. We believe this goal is nearly impossible to achieve, if the generic user knowledge level is not increased and the complexity of set-up and configuration procedures not reduced.

The improved user education helps end users to discover, understand and make use of new and existing e-services. Consequently, this also benefits service and network operators through increased service uptake. In addition, this will also benefit society as a whole by ensuring improved access to mobile information and communications technologies (ICT) for consumers who might otherwise be excluded (e.g. elderly users or users with impairments).

Operators of e-services and applications will benefit directly, as many features that are under-used today may generate more ARPU in the future if better user instructions help users to discover these features. Furthermore, the necessity for user support is expected to be reduced.

The obvious benefits for all end users will be reflected by a reduced digital divide, opening up access to and the use of the potential of future systems and e-services in the information society for all.

Time plan for the work

Milestones Work development
March 2005 Start of work
June 2005 First drafts available
July 2005 Conference presentation at HCI International 2005
September 19, 2005 First public workshops (Mobile HCI, Salzburg, Austria)
November, 2005 November, 2005Conference presentations: IEEE Mobility 2005 (also second public workshop), 3G World Congress 2005
March 20, 2006 Third public workshop at HFT 2006, organized together with TCeurope
May 4-5, 2006 Final public consensus workshop (hosted by BenQ in Munich, Germany)
June 2006 Final drafts for ETSI TC HF approval
July- August 2006 ETSI Membership Approval Procedure (vote)
September 2006 ETSI publication
September- December 2006 Dissemination and industry presentation activities

How to contact us:

If you would like more information, please contact the STF Leader through email:

Note: this information is based upon STF working assumptions.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.

Last updated: 2010-02-18 10:21:47