User testing Internet of Good Things (IoGT) with women in Mozambique

Why female IoGT users matter

Written by: Guillaume Michels and Alex Tyers
women smiling holding a phone with IOGT logo
06 November 2018

User testing – why do it?

It goes without saying that monitoring and evaluation of the Internet of Good Things is one of our priority: not only do we want to understand what happens to users as a result of using IoGT, but we also want to understand what happens during their time on the site. And a crucial part of this monitoring and evaluation process is user testing.

IoGT is developed along user-centred design principles, and capturing user feedback through user testing is essential: to learn from the IoGT target audience, to understand their overall user experience and pain points, and to improve the service design and the relevance of content distributed on our mobile platform.

It’s really important to be gender sensitive and inclusive and do user testing with women as well as men. This may sound obvious, but in our experience, this is something that is often not prioritised because often it’s harder to reach female users. And yet if you don’t talk to them, you may miss crucial design points. For example, female users often tend to have lower levels of technical literacy (and confidence) than men and so a

complicated navigation pathway is more likely to cause problems for female users. Likewise with the actual content – women tend to be less likely to use mobile platforms if they don’t see them as wholly relevant to their needs, so it’s important to understand whether the content is suitable for the female audience, and if not, why not.

Why female IoGT users matter in Mozambique

Women and Girls are a key target audience for the Internet of Good Things initiative. According to GSMA research, cost remains the greatest barrier to owning and using a mobile phone for women, who typically have less financial independence than men.

In the table from the ITU below you can see that Internet penetration rates are higher for men than for women in all regions of the world. Even today, the global Internet user gender gap continues growing. It grew from 11% in 2013 to 12% in 2016. The gap remains large in the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – at 31%. In 2016, the regional gender gap is largest in Africa (23%)

Source: ITU ICT Facts and figures 2016
Source: ITU ICT Facts and figures 2016

Internet of Good Things launched in Mozambique in October 2015, and is accessible for free on Mcel network via Free Basics by Facebook. It is crucial that the IoGT platform meets the needs of female users in Mozambique as well as male, in order to reach as many women and girls as possible.

In Eastern and Southern Africa this matters, because growing up as a girl is a profoundly different experience to growing up as a boy. Women and girls face enormous barriers to having their voices heard in public policy and budgeting discussions due to cultural norms and lower levels of education. There is also a direct correlation between a child’s gender and the possibility of realizing their rights and enjoying their full potential, with social norms favouring boys over girls in most aspects of life. This differentiated treatment according to gender is particularly acute during adolescence, when many girls are faced with the prospect of marriage (often before reaching the age of 18), adolescent pregnancy, and gender-based violence, as well as a heightened risk of HIV transmission. The risk of dropping out of school is high for girls at this age, which ultimately affects not only their own life chances, but that of their families: better-educated women are more likely to understand disease-prevention measures such as vaccines and mosquito nets, and to use them. They are more likely to take a sick child to a clinic early and to follow treatment instructions. They are more likely to understand germ theory and set clean water and sanitation as household priorities. With more schooling, women tend to have fewer children and space births more widely, both of which also reduce child mortality.

And that is why it’s important that IoGT reaches these adolescent girls in Mozambique: to give them early access to life-enhancing information and knowledge through their mobile phones, to help them realise their rights, and learn about important issues such as HIV, safe sex and gender-based violence. And in order to do that, it needs to be designed for a female audience as well.

User testing IoGT in Mozambique: Aida’s experience

A few months ago, we sat down with a few young people in Mozambique to hear their feedback on the IoGT site. And one of those people was Aida, 29, from Maputo. Aida is part of the team powering the SMS Biz/U-Report, Mozambique’s counselling service for adolescents and young people. Aida is the coordinator of the SMS BIZ/U-Report counselling hub, who has been a youth activist since 2007.

We invited Aida to try out IoGT for the first time, looking specifically at the child online protection content, Staying Safe Online, as well as the HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health content.

Aida used her own Internet-enabled mobile to access the site and browsed through it for 10 – 20 minutes, while we observed her. Then we chatted to her about her experience of the site, what she liked, what she disliked, and how we could improve it.

Talking to Aida was insightful: not only was she willing to share her experience with us, she gave us many clever ideas on how to improve IoGT for female users like her. Four key findings included:

1. Navigation is fine, but instructions need work

Aida found it fairly easy to navigate through articles, but felt that the site needed clearer instructions, such as ‘click here’ where users can navigate through to other articles. Having a hyperlink was confusing, and she felt that the IoGT site was a little different from sites she was used to:

“It doesn’t use the same approach that other common sites I have used…..All somebody has to say, you have to click here to read more.”

What UNICEF Innovation did in response: “We have since integrated improved related articles with more appealing design and a “next” message at the end of articles so that navigation between content is easier and clearer for users”

2. Content is good but there is too much of it

Aida found the topics engaging and interesting, and easy to read:

“It’s easy to understand [with] simple words – as long as you can read you can understand. And the approach, the way they answer the question is very useful.”

But she found that there was too much content, and it could be cut down:

“There is lots of information – just scroll down! scroll down! Just content! Content! Content! It’s not very friendly….shorten the text. If you can summarize a little better-using bullet points…straight to the point….when other people enter the site they see the length of the articles, and then they just leave the site!”

What UNICEF Innovation did in response: We have adapted our content guidelines to reduce the recommended size of an article to 200 words for adolescent-focused content.

3. We can rethink the photos and the organization

“The photos are not always relevant…make illustrations that are accessible to anyone, people with money and people without money.”

“To improve the content, it need to be reorganised…things are not in a proper sequence.”

What UNICEF did in response : We are currently hiring a digital content expert to improve the sequence, the readability and the attractiveness of our messages. We have also produced more sets of illustrations.

4. IoGT content is relevant, useful and unique

“I learnt something new during this experience, mostly about internet safety. How we should behave online, that you shouldn’t be sharing bank details online…..People just get exposed to the internet and they use it, they actually don’t know how to use it safely. I didn’t find this information anywhere else before.”

She found that the Internet of Good Things can help her in two very practical ways: for research purposes, and to provide more information for other people. “We would use [IoGT] as a research platform for work. Because some questions that we receive from the youth [from SMS Biz], we don’t have the answer right away, so we have to research. I saw that some of the information [we need] is there [on the IoGT site]. So, we would use it for research purposes.”

“I can share this information with my [afternoon counselling] group…I can share the link with them and they can have all the information…[IoGT ] is a good thing to direct people to for more information…there is a service for youth that we have in hospitals called SAAJ [Serviço Amigo de Adolescentes e Jovens], so we can have pamphlets [about IOGT] that we can distribute [there].”

So what’s next for IoGT in Mozambique?

Listening to feedback from users such as Aida, and listening to our female users in particular, we had a complete overhaul of our mobile interface at the beginning of 2017. We hope by making the changes that people like Aida suggested to make Internet of Good Things more user-friendly and easier to navigate, we will be able to reach more young women in particular.

We will continue to regularly sit down with users and run user testing sessions so we can continue to improve the Internet of Good Things User experience. As part of our

Monitoring and Evaluation plan, user interviews, focus groups and ethnographic observation will also help to define the outcomes of the Internet of Good Things in communities. Stay tuned!