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We are working on an SMS based reporting project where the people with age 30-60 will be sending SMS reports. Apart from the complexity of the SMS structure, one of the major issues I have faced during the training sessions is that many people don't know how to send SMS. And with so many different brands of mobiles in the market, SMS sending process in one mobile is totally different from other mobile. Two of the major ways of sending SMS (that i have found so far) are:

  1. A one page form where both "To" and "Message" box appears and one can move up and down to type the message and to phonenumber.
  2. Two step process where one first types the message and goes to the second step to type the phonenumber

In the training, i am planning to include the pictorial forms of both the processes. It occured to me that if there are any standard ways of teaching on how to send SMS, from UX perspective, so that they can follow on their own.

Note that we are dealing with people (male/female, some are quite old in 50s, there might be people who don't know how to read english, though they know how to dial and receive calls) who are using mobiles for voice only and they have all different kinds of mobile brands - nokia, samsung, even few andriods, some unknown brands, some chinese, some indian, etc.

updates - more about project

It's the health workers and health volunteers who are going to send the immunized children number in a structured format after immunization campaign on a real time basis. The reports are needed for quick corrective action. Though SMS reporting is going to be part of their job, i want to make sure that they find it easy in learning on sending sms. Now it's about around 100 people but later the number will be increased to 1000s. That's where the easy-to-follow instructions will really help them, considering the variations in mobile models. Toll-free number being used for this, so we donot need to worry about having them charged for sms.

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1 Answer 1

I think you shouldn't teach how to send sms 'in general'. It's enough to mention something like 'Refer to user manual of your cell phone on how to send SMS'. The main reason is that if you provide some service - teaching SMS sending - and you don't succeed, your customer has reason to be dissatisfied you. Especcially when your instructions are misleading in his particular case. So you risk to become bad while trying to be good.

From the other hand, let's estimate your real losts of feedback from those who can't send SMS. Say you have 100 people who can't send sms but whose report is valuable for you. Do you think that your service stimulates them to study how to send SMS? Is it so valuable for them? Especially in case that SMS are not free and they need to pay for it? I think this is unreal.

Instead, it's better stimulate widening of your audience in all possible ways. E.g. 'Send your report by SMS and ask your friends, neighbours, relatives, etc. to do so.' You can implement some kind of loyalty of affiliation program or whatever. Give prizes, bonuses or some of that kind. In other way spend your time to implement more active stimulation. This will compensate those who doesn't interested or can't react.

Update after obtaining more detailed project description in comment to this answer

If sending SMS is job for them, of course, they are stimulated. In general, in such case people manage to find somebody near them to teach sending SMS - collegues, friends, relatives or even customers. It seemed to be the most probable way of acting.

But I agree that in such case you should provide very general description of sending SMS making emphasize on formatting it in right way which helps you to parse SMS automatically. I think you should use single form as described in your variant 1. This covers most cases and is easier because it has no 'steps'.

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More on project-it's the health workers and health volunteers who are going to send the immunized children number in a structured format after immunization campaign on a real time basis. The reports are needed for quick corrective action. Though SMS reporting is going to be part of their job, i want to make sure that they find it easy in learning on sending sms. Now it's about around 100 people but later the number will be increased to 1000s. That's where the easy-to-follow instructions will really help them, considering the variations in mobile models. Toll-free number being used for this. –  Anjesh Jan 29 '13 at 18:19
    
@Anjesh: This is very important part of information regarding your question. It will be useful to add this info to your initial question to get more distinct answers. –  Serg Jan 29 '13 at 19:18
    
thanks. I updated the question. I was thinking of including both the variants in the print materials, just hoping those would include most of the mobile models available in the market. –  Anjesh Jan 30 '13 at 5:16

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