Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Becoming Digitally Resilient: Understanding the Gap between Online Government Services and Low Ability Users


Cite this article:

2022 EPIC Proceedings p. 138, ISSN 1559-8918,

In the Netherlands, approximately 2.5M people struggle to use technology in their daily life and are unable to use online governmental services independently. People with low digital literacy are increasingly feeling left behind by the digitalisation of society. Even though this group is very diverse, what they have in common is getting stuck at some point when they are in a digital environment, e.g. when filling in digital forms.

The Dutch government wants to provide more effective and appropriate help by designing more accessible online services and offering different types of support. To support this, STBY was commissioned to do qualitative research to better understand the experiences of people with limited digital skills. The ethnographic methods used in the project enabled the researchers to get a holistic understanding of participants’ experiences of going through this emotional and difficult journey. This personal approach enabled participants to share the ‘obstacles’ they are confronted with when using digital devices.

Currently, most people with limited digital skills find their own ways of navigating through digital services because they have this intrinsic motivation to function as individuals in society. This research went beyond investigating what a better digital service could look like but it also explores how people might be given appropriate tools and opportunities to be resilient in their own space, and at their own pace, both online and offline. Our research recommended strengthening a network of support that offers more inclusive and diverse help for people with different needs and levels of digital experiences.

Video Icon

To watch the video presentation,

Learn about membership