Designing for Older Adults
Usability Considerations for Real
Users Kate Finn & Jeff Johnson, Wiser Usability,
Inc.
Definitions






“Older Adults” (OAs) = people 50+
Usability: How easy it is for something's
intended users to success...
Basic Premises






“Design for Older Adults, and you design for
almost everyone else.” [Alan Newell]
Poor usability a...
Background
Changing Demographics
• Who Is Online?
• What Is Everyone Doing
Online?
•

Designing for Older Adults:  Usabili...
#s of US Adult Population, by
Age

Yea
r

Source: US Census Bureau

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration f...
% US Adults Online, by Age

98
92
83
56

Source: PewInternet.org

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for...
Common Online Activities, by
Age
Activity

18-33

34-45

46-55

56-64

65-73

74+

Email
Search
Health
Info
News

4

4

4
...
Social Network Use, by Age
% of Total Social Network
Users, by Age Group

Source: PewInternet.org

Designing for Older Adu...
Social Network Sites, by Age
Facebook:
46% increase in 45-54

Twitter:
79% increase in 55-64

Source: PewInternet.org

Des...
2013: Device Ownership, by
Type

Source: PewInternet.org

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

1...
2013: Device Ownership, by
Age

Source: PewInternet.org

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

11
Most Popular Mobile
Applications?



Good question!
Strong push for “helpful” apps for the 50+

“Devices & Apps for the ...
Tech Can Be Transformative…


Huge potential benefit of usable interfaces to
OAs:







Less tech-literate
Socially...
…but All Is Not Well

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

14
We Know How to Do It Right…
Pace U Gerontechnology students,
empathic modeling

Jeff trying a “Wheelchair for All”

Part o...
…So Why Don't We?
Can't they make setups that have
"universal design" tech elements, like
the Jitterbug, to make access an...
User Interface Design
Principles
 Recognition (vs.
Discoverability
iOS 7 Design
Android Design
recall)
 Feedback &
Theme...
User Interface Design
Guidelines?







Use sufficient contrast
Avoid patterned backgrounds
Avoid animation
Be cons...
What about
WCAG 2.0 and Section 508?

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

19
Designers: Is this Really Us?




Tend to design for young and middle-aged
people; rarely consider the challenges which
...
“We Have the Technology!”
Design Approaches
User-Centered
Design
 Participatory Design
 Empathic Design
 Design Thinkin...
Value of Face-to-Face
Encounters







Students (and professors) in design classes
often have little personal experie...
Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

23
Reality:
 Technology will continue to develop rapidly.
 Todays YAs (and others) not 100% technically
literate; as they a...
Not that we should stay stuck in the present!

But:
We could design for inclusivity.
We could provide much better suppor...
Individual Differences
Age is just a number

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

26
Individual Differences







Cognitive decline begins at ~45 (maybe)
Vision starts to “change” at ~40
Hearing loss: ...
Individual Differences






Effects of aging are highly idiosyncratic
Rates of change in abilities are greater
Range...
Individual Differences

“Studies on aging
are particularly subject to confounding effects.”
[Reddy, 2012]

Designing for O...
Age-Related Changes
& Characteristics
Visual
• Auditory
• Motor
• Cognitive
• Affective/Attitudinal
•

Designing for Older...
Normal Age-Related Vision
Changes


Decreased ability to focus close (presbyopia)







Lower light sensitivity ne...
Normal Vision

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

32
Reduced Ability to Focus Close

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

33
High Glare Sensitivity

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

34
Low Contrast Sensitivity

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

35
Age-Related Vision Disorders






Lens yellowing (common cateract)
Glaucoma
Macular Degeneration
Cataracts (less com...
Normal Vision

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

37
Lens Yellowing

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

38
Glaucoma

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

39
Macular Degeneration

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

40
Age-Related High-Level
Visual Perception Deficits









More trouble recognizing meaning of
unlabeled symbols & ic...
Normal Visual Search: Linear
unless Target “Pops” in
Periphery
Linear: Find letter in pile of characters
L Q R B T J P L F...
Normal Visual Search: Linear
unless Target “Pops” in
Periphery
Nonlinear: Find font-style in pile of letters
G T H U J L U...
Normal Visual Search: Linear
unless Target “Pops” in
Periphery




Linear: find item in
unfamiliar menu

Non-linear: fin...
Seniors: Visual Search is
More Often Linear

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

45
Seniors: Visual Search is
More Often Linear

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

46
Auditory
Harder to:
 Filter out background sounds
 Localize sounds
 Understand fast speech
 Detect high-pitched sounds...
48

48
Motor






Reduced fine-motor control
Reduced hand-eye coordination
Slower movement
Stiffness
Increase in hand tremo...
Motor (continued)



Difficulty grasping/manipulating small objects
Difficulty with continuous movements




Problems ...
Struggles to Select “Kenya”
from Pull-Right Menus

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

51
US Adults with Fine Motor,
Vision,
or Hearing Impairments
14.5

Age
15.2

%

9.3
6.8
0.6

1.8

5.4
7.5

1.5

Source: Summa...
Cognition


Reduced short-term memory/attention span











Difficulty keeping track of task-status
Harder to ...
“At this point… I would call
them. This is so overwhelming!
… Help!”

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration...
Affective/Attitudinal



Less comfortable with technology
Risk averse








Often get frustrated, give up
Tenden...
Frustrated; wants to quit task:
“I would screw this.”

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real

56
“It's extremely frustrating. I
didn't grow up with computers
in my life.”

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consider...
Older Adults Execute Computer
Tasks More Slowly & Succeed
Less
Contributing factors:
 Slower cognition
 Slower or faulty...
Guidelines for Designing
for Older Adults
We're working on it!
Guidelines for Web-design on
WiserUsability.com
General des...
Thank You!




WiserUsability.com
408.806.8451
kfinn@wiserusability.com

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Conside...
Conducting Usability Tests
with Older Adults
Recommendations

Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Rea...
Conducting Usability Tests
with Older Adults
Test at Participant’s site if possible
 Be sensitive to security/privacy con...
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Designing for Older Adults: Usability Considerations for Real Users

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Presentation given at Stanford University's Design Seminar, January 10, 2014.

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  • Traditional UI Design Principles, after Norman, Nielsen, etc.
    ** click **
    Here are the current ones from for iOS 7 and Android
    Mobile push:  disregarding "classic" UI principles?
  • Transcript of "Designing for Older Adults: Usability Considerations for Real Users"

    1. 1. Designing for Older Adults Usability Considerations for Real Users Kate Finn & Jeff Johnson, Wiser Usability, Inc.
    2. 2. Definitions    “Older Adults” (OAs) = people 50+ Usability: How easy it is for something's intended users to successfully use it for its intended purpose. Design for All/Universal Design: Designing for usability by everyone, regardless of age or ability. Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 2
    3. 3. Basic Premises    “Design for Older Adults, and you design for almost everyone else.” [Alan Newell] Poor usability affects almost everyone, but affects OAs more severely, more frequently. Several populations w/ overlapping usability issues     People w/ low vision or other impairments Second language learners People w/ low literacy People w/ little tech experience Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 3
    4. 4. Background Changing Demographics • Who Is Online? • What Is Everyone Doing Online? • Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 4
    5. 5. #s of US Adult Population, by Age Yea r Source: US Census Bureau Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 5
    6. 6. % US Adults Online, by Age 98 92 83 56 Source: PewInternet.org Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 6
    7. 7. Common Online Activities, by Age Activity 18-33 34-45 46-55 56-64 65-73 74+ Email Search Health Info News 4 4 4 4 4 5 Purchases Travel Banking 5 7 6 6 5 4 6 5 7 5 6 7 6 5 7 4 6 7 1 2 3 Source: PewInternet.org Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 7
    8. 8. Social Network Use, by Age % of Total Social Network Users, by Age Group Source: PewInternet.org Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 8
    9. 9. Social Network Sites, by Age Facebook: 46% increase in 45-54 Twitter: 79% increase in 55-64 Source: PewInternet.org Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 9
    10. 10. 2013: Device Ownership, by Type Source: PewInternet.org Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 10
    11. 11. 2013: Device Ownership, by Age Source: PewInternet.org Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 11
    12. 12. Most Popular Mobile Applications?   Good question! Strong push for “helpful” apps for the 50+ “Devices & Apps for the Elderly” •MedWatcher •Diabetes •Prime Alert •MediSave Virtual Pillbox “Savvy Seniors” •Skype •Story Before Bed •Find My Phone •Over 40 Magnifier •Pillboxie •VizWiz •Dragon Dictation •iDiabetes •BP Monitor “Top Apps for Post50s” •It’s Done •Eye Reader •Pandora •Park’n Find •iTriage •Mint.com •Ambiance •GasBuddy •Fandango •AroundMe Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 12
    13. 13. Tech Can Be Transformative…  Huge potential benefit of usable interfaces to OAs:      Less tech-literate Socially isolated Poor access to transportation Little tech support “A Mac laptop opened up the world to me, right here, from my kitchen table. This is a blessing because my mobility is now extremely limited due to my physical disability.” [NY Times online reader] Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 13
    14. 14. …but All Is Not Well Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 14
    15. 15. We Know How to Do It Right… Pace U Gerontechnology students, empathic modeling Jeff trying a “Wheelchair for All” Part of the team helping students with a new Wii Remote design (UI-UC) Ford’s ‘Third Age Suit’ Helps Architects Design Homes Shopping with AGNES Photo by Nathan Fried-Lipski; MIT AgeLab Testing a prototype of a re-designed walker (UI-UC). Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 15
    16. 16. …So Why Don't We? Can't they make setups that have "universal design" tech elements, like the Jitterbug, to make access and use simpler for everyone?  A lot of usage is far from intuitive, and when it's hard to see or move fingers easily, some things are tough to do.  It would be so darn easy to make things easier for seniors. I don't understand why usability is being ignored. Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real  16
    17. 17. User Interface Design Principles  Recognition (vs. Discoverability iOS 7 Design Android Design recall)  Feedback & Themes Principles  Consistency communication  Deference  Enchant me  Visibility  Conceptual model  Clarity  Simplify my life  Flexibility  Real-world mappings  Depth  Make me amazing  Error prevention,  Constraints recovery  Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 17
    18. 18. User Interface Design Guidelines?       Use sufficient contrast Avoid patterned backgrounds Avoid animation Be consistent Be discoverable Be visible Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 18
    19. 19. What about WCAG 2.0 and Section 508? Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 19
    20. 20. Designers: Is this Really Us?   Tend to design for young and middle-aged people; rarely consider the challenges which their systems will present to older people. [Newell, 2006] Tend to design for people somewhat like themselves, unless forcibly restrained. [Hawthorn, 2009] Seem to design products for themselves. How Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real about delighting the customer? [Orlov, 2013] 20 
    21. 21. “We Have the Technology!” Design Approaches User-Centered Design  Participatory Design  Empathic Design  Design Thinking  Design Tools/Techniques Focus Groups  Ethnographic Studies  Usability Testing  Personas  Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 21
    22. 22. Value of Face-to-Face Encounters     Students (and professors) in design classes often have little personal experience with OAs. Designers tend to discount pure data on OAs. OAs seldom included in participatory design, usability tests. Designers tend to over-estimate OA tech ability until they see it; then they tend to underestimate it. Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 22
    23. 23. Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 23
    24. 24. Reality:  Technology will continue to develop rapidly.  Todays YAs (and others) not 100% technically literate; as they age, they will experience same problems as today's OAs.  Skills, ability to generalize skills to new situations, and willingness to learn new skills decline with age.  As they age, even today's technical literati will face usability issues.  Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 24
    25. 25. Not that we should stay stuck in the present! But: We could design for inclusivity. We could provide much better support. We could make transitions a lot less painful. © 2012, Jack Zylkin, www.usbtypewriter.com Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 25
    26. 26. Individual Differences Age is just a number Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 26
    27. 27. Individual Differences      Cognitive decline begins at ~45 (maybe) Vision starts to “change” at ~40 Hearing loss: 30's, 40's, 50's? Aging is a continuous process Change is not linear, or uniform Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 27
    28. 28. Individual Differences      Effects of aging are highly idiosyncratic Rates of change in abilities are greater Ranges of abilities are greater Coping mechanisms vary widely As a group's age increases:   Averages are less accurate Variability in abilities increases Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 28
    29. 29. Individual Differences “Studies on aging are particularly subject to confounding effects.” [Reddy, 2012] Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 29
    30. 30. Age-Related Changes & Characteristics Visual • Auditory • Motor • Cognitive • Affective/Attitudinal • Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 30
    31. 31. Normal Age-Related Vision Changes  Decreased ability to focus close (presbyopia)     Lower light sensitivity need for brighter lighting Increased sensitivity to glare Reduced sensitivity to color & contrast    need for reading glasses Especially for blue-green wavelengths Narrower field of vision Slower to adapt to changes in lighting Slower to re-focus with changes in distance  Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 31
    32. 32. Normal Vision Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 32
    33. 33. Reduced Ability to Focus Close Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 33
    34. 34. High Glare Sensitivity Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 34
    35. 35. Low Contrast Sensitivity Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 35
    36. 36. Age-Related Vision Disorders      Lens yellowing (common cateract) Glaucoma Macular Degeneration Cataracts (less common type) Diabetic Retinopathy Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 36
    37. 37. Normal Vision Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 37
    38. 38. Lens Yellowing Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 38
    39. 39. Glaucoma Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 39
    40. 40. Macular Degeneration Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 40
    41. 41. Age-Related High-Level Visual Perception Deficits      More trouble recognizing meaning of unlabeled symbols & icons, especially small ones Slower on visual search tasks: spotting target amid distractors Decreased ability to tell if similar objects are the same or different More difficulty reading moving text More likely to lose track of screen-pointer Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 41
    42. 42. Normal Visual Search: Linear unless Target “Pops” in Periphery Linear: Find letter in pile of characters L Q R B T J P L F BM R W S F R N Q S P D C H K U T G T H U J L U 9 J V Y I A E X C F T Y N H T D O L L 8 G V N G R Y J G Z S T 6  Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 42
    43. 43. Normal Visual Search: Linear unless Target “Pops” in Periphery Nonlinear: Find font-style in pile of letters G T H U J L U 9 J V Y I A L Q R B T J P L F BM R W S 3 L C T V B H U S E M U K F R N Q S P D C H K U T W Q E L F G H B Y I K D 9 G V N G R Y J G Z S T 6 S E X C F T Y N H T D O L L8  Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 43
    44. 44. Normal Visual Search: Linear unless Target “Pops” in Periphery   Linear: find item in unfamiliar menu Non-linear: find item in familiar menu Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 44
    45. 45. Seniors: Visual Search is More Often Linear Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 45
    46. 46. Seniors: Visual Search is More Often Linear Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 46
    47. 47. Auditory Harder to:  Filter out background sounds  Localize sounds  Understand fast speech  Detect high-pitched sounds Everyone: 8 kHz Under 50: 12 kHz Under 20: 16 kHz Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 47
    48. 48. 48 48
    49. 49. Motor      Reduced fine-motor control Reduced hand-eye coordination Slower movement Stiffness Increase in hand tremor Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 49
    50. 50. Motor (continued)   Difficulty grasping/manipulating small objects Difficulty with continuous movements   Problems executing coordinated gestures      E.g., click-drag, tap-drag, tap-hold, draw E.g., pinch, spread, double-tap E.g., one- vs. two- vs. three-finger drag Increased variances in movementslower reliability Increased risk of unintentional click or touch (Decreased sense of touch; conductivity?) Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 50
    51. 51. Struggles to Select “Kenya” from Pull-Right Menus Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 51
    52. 52. US Adults with Fine Motor, Vision, or Hearing Impairments 14.5 Age 15.2 % 9.3 6.8 0.6 1.8 5.4 7.5 1.5 Source: Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2010 Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 52
    53. 53. Cognition  Reduced short-term memory/attention span        Difficulty keeping track of task-status Harder to concentrate; more distractable Longer learning times; more repetition required Less generalization (skill transfer) between situations More difficulty retrieving words Reduced ability to “multi-task” (time-share) More susceptible to “change blindness” Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real  53
    54. 54. “At this point… I would call them. This is so overwhelming! … Help!” Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 54
    55. 55. Affective/Attitudinal   Less comfortable with technology Risk averse       Often get frustrated, give up Tendency to assign blame   Strongly prefer familiar paths over efficiency Afraid of “breaking something” Tend to read everything on screen before acting Fear of embarrassment Either to self, or to application Reluctance to give personal info Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 55
    56. 56. Frustrated; wants to quit task: “I would screw this.” Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 56
    57. 57. “It's extremely frustrating. I didn't grow up with computers in my life.” Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 57
    58. 58. Older Adults Execute Computer Tasks More Slowly & Succeed Less Contributing factors:  Slower cognition  Slower or faulty memory retrieval  Slower or inaccurate perception     (e.g., reading & pattern recognition) Slower or shakier movement Caution, hesitance, fear of “breaking it” Combinations of above Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 58
    59. 59. Guidelines for Designing for Older Adults We're working on it! Guidelines for Web-design on WiserUsability.com General design guidelines (including mobile) are in development Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 59
    60. 60. Thank You!    WiserUsability.com 408.806.8451 kfinn@wiserusability.com Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 60
    61. 61. Conducting Usability Tests with Older Adults Recommendations Designing for Older Adults:  Usability Consideration for Real 61
    62. 62. Conducting Usability Tests with Older Adults Test at Participant’s site if possible  Be sensitive to security/privacy concerns  Keep test sessions short  Minimize audio/visual distractions  Use their computer or provide a similar, familiar setup  Avoid speaking in computer/Web jargon  Be patient and respectful  Offer to explain things after the session  Small Older Adults:  Usability Consideration appreciated Designing forcompensation is greatly for Real 62 
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