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A Study of the Effect of Thumb Sizes on Mobile Phone Texting Satisfaction

Vimala Balakrishnan and Paul, H.P. Yeow

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 3, Issue 3, May 2008, pp. 118-128


This paper investigates the effect of participants' varying thumb sizes in relation to the experience of using mobile phone keypads for sending text messages. The keypad design factors considered in the study were key size, shape, texture, space between keys, layout, and simplicity. One hundred and ten people participated in the study. Their age ranged between 17 to 25 years old. The researchers recorded the participants' thumb lengths and circumferences. Participants' positive or negative satisfaction with using mobile phone keypads correlates to their thumb length and circumference. For example, if a participant's thumb circumference was large, he or she tended to be dissatisfied with the key size and space between keys. Results confirm that varying thumb sizes affect users' text messaging satisfaction. Mobile phone manufacturers and designers can use the findings in this study to design customized mobile phones that cater to users with large thumbs. This may increase their customer's text messaging satisfaction.

Practitioner's Take Away

The effect of thumb length and circumference on mobile phone texting satisfaction was studied against keypad design factors. The following results were drawn:

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A Study of the Effect of Thumb Sizes on Mobile Phone Texting Satisfaction