A tool that helps people learn about new websites, shared through personal connections

We have developed an effective digital inclusion tool, Buttons, that allows users to organise and share websites with people they know, helping make the internet more accessible and rewarding.

It aims to increase the number of people with basic digital skills and confidence and boost the range and depth of their use of key services.

The need

“Using buttons was easier because most problems are with learners entering a wrong web address or using different sites. Buttons made sure that everyone linked to the same site at the same time”

Tutor, UK Online Centre

The internet has improved people’s lives, whether through helping people cut household bills, find jobs or maintain contact with distant friends and relatives, as well as providing broader benefits such as reducing isolation, improving health, supporting economic growth and closing equality gaps. Yet 21% of Britain’s population lack the basic digital skills and capabilities required to realise the benefits of the internet.

The tool helps overcome the main barriers people face when going online:


It helps people use the internet, especially when introduced in a teaching environment or by a digitally confident friend or family member.


It shows why people using the internet is a good thing by linking to sites that are of particular interest to the individual.


It removes the a fear of knowing which sites are reputable and where to start.

Buttons is very simple to use, with clean bold graphics and editable, picture ­based icons. It allows users to organise and share lists of websites, as well as information and tips on those sites. Users can view sets of Buttons created by other people or create their own.

Different ways of improving digital capabilities

“I would like to use them as an information point. For example one of my learners designed a set around free resources for a new computer”

Tutor, UK Online Centre

This innovative tool increases internet usage in different ways:

  • Digital natives can help simplify the internet for someone they know who struggles with it, by giving them access to new sites and services, as well as tips and advice for using the internet. 1:1 support has been shown to be very effective and the increased contact with friends and family is a key motivation for getting online
  • Teachers can use it in learning environments for introducing students to sets of new sites.
  • Organisations can use it to direct their users to a series of online tasks as a way of simplifying digital processes.
  • Anyone, beyond those wanting to increase digital capabilities, can use the highly useful tool to share lists of sites, whether they are recommending their favourite restaurants to friends, sharing a reading list with colleagues or collating useful videos for their own research.

Progress so far

“[Buttons would be useful] for clients with sight problems who have problems using the favourites toolbar”

Tutor, UK Online Centre

We created an early prototype called Internet Buttons, launched in 2010 in the UK and in 2011 in Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland. It is used by online centres and individuals in all our territories and has helped around 20,000 users get online.

User testing of Internet Buttons in four countries allowed us to gain insights into how the tool could be improved to reduce barriers for its usage and increase the situations in which it is useful.

Current Work

“With the more frequent clients we could assist them in setting up buttons particularly for jobsearch, accessing benefits info”

Tutor, UK Online Centre

We have developed an improved version, Buttons, and worked with the Tinder Foundation and EOn to test it. We’re pleased to announce this version will be launched in 2015 and we are looking for partners to roll this out.


buttons testing

Buttons User Testing

November 1, 2013

Summary of the user testing of the latest prototype of Buttons carried out by the Tinder Foundation with 17 UK online centres and 44 centre learners across the country.

The Tinder Foundation

isnt everyone using internet

Isn’t everybody using the internet?

January 2, 2012

Infographic showing digital exclusion figures across Europe, plus affected audience groups and barriers.

Tori Flower and Kate Ferrier




Afternoon with Internet Starter
Liberty Global,Poland, May 2013

UPC Poland trains 4,000 seniors in web use in 2012
Telecompaper, 29th January 2013

New tool makes web easy for silver surfers
The Metro Herald, 27th March 2012

OAP help to try web
The Evening Herald, 27th March 2012

Web tool to tempt pensioners online
The Irish Daily Mail, 27th March 2012

A digital helping hand
The Irish Daily Star, 27th March 2012

Internet Starter – pierwszy raz… z internetem
Onet, 29th March 2012

Push It Good: A Page Of Buttons That Make It Super Easy To Use The Internet
Netted, January 2012

A New Mission to connect the nation
Telegraph, January 2012

A digital helping hand
Metro, February 2011


tinderSupports a network of 5,000 UK Online Centres local community partners and works with hundreds of national organisations to be smarter in how they use digital technology. They supported the prototype Internet Buttons and undertook user testing and evaluation of Buttons.

goonGo On UK (formerly known as Race Online) supported the prototype Internet Buttons.

Supported by

nominettrust libertyglobalEon


tech4goodWinner of the Tech4Good Innovation Award 2011.

Do you want to get involved? We'd love to hear from you
Email me - ella.wiggans@shiftdesign.org.uk