Digital literacy of end users in the design

I am currently working on a shopping app for a local store located in a rural area. And one of my concerns is whether my end users are familiar with and use technology enough. Chances are my end users are middle-aged housekeeper women. I want to know if they don’t use phones and technology frequently, there is no need for my app right? is there any criteria to evaluate that?
I will really appreciate your responses and your experiences.

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That’s a good question, and I think that finding the right research is always difficult, definitely when trying to get started. Have you maybe tried looking for any other surveys that already exist regarding your local demographic? If you do a google search it’s surprising how many surveys exist that you can view for free. You could also make a survey of your own (using something like usabilityhub) and maybe find different groups on social media that might take part. Alternatively, you could go out into the public and carry out surveys regarding your local demographic and see if they use shopping apps. Also, you could try and set up some user-interviews with some of the locals. That would be an excellent way to get some qualitative data.

I find that getting started is with research is always the most difficult, but once you find your path, it gets much easier. I hope this helps! I’d love to hear how you get on, I’m always trying to find ways to improve my research methods.

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Great answer!! Thanks a lot. Your answer gave me a better version of the whole picture.
Just one more thing.
Let’s say I did a survey and found out that my users don’t use phone or shopping app that much, then no matter how good my app solves their problem, when they don’t ue any platform to recieve its services right?

That’s a very good point to bring up, especially at the start of your project. I think something like a rapid design sprint could help. I’ve been reading/listening a lot about this over the past few months, but not really applied it myself yet (but I’m going to!). Very good book by Jake Knapp about it.

This method allows you to rapidly identify problems in a project, before you spend masses of time potentially designing something that won’t work. So within 5 days you could; Day 1. Understand your users problems (the tech) 2. Sketch some solutions (different screens), 3. Pick a solution/s to test 4. Build a prototype 5. Test with users and assess results (see how competent they are with different designs).

Using this method you could quickly find e.g. what sorts of interfaces your users are used to, and you’ll then know a good direction to go in, and be sure you’re not heading in the wrong direction.

You may also find out lots of surprising things, maybe that they don’t use mobile app, but they’re familiar with website (in which case you need a website option). That’s what the sprint is for, to save time and identify/solve problems quickly.


You need to get solid information from your users rather than using stereotypes and generalisation. Depending on your specialism, it may be different to the norm. I am a middle aged mother but provide tech support to my family as my partner who is a mathematician has no idea about tech. My 7 year old daughter is quickly figuring things out too.