Usability Testing for Older AdultsBecca KennedyHuman Performance Assessment4/19/12
Older adults are a special population• Loss of vision▫ Slower visual search and visual processing e.g., locating and reading traffic signs▫ Poor light sensitivity e.g., seeing objects at night• Loss of hearing▫ Because of: Atrophy of hair cells in cochlea; stiffening of malleus,incus, and stapes vibrating bone structures▫ Ability to hear high frequencies (pitches) lost first
• Slower response speed• Less efficient working memory• Physical disabilities• Limited mobilityAlso…
Older adults and technology• Adults age 50 and older are the fastest-growingsegment of the computer-using population inthe U.S. (Russell, 1998)• However, many older adults still have notadapted to the “technology age”▫ Fear of technology (Dyck & Smither, 1995)▫ Little or no exposure (Echt et al., 1995)▫ Little awareness of potential benefits (Melenhorst et al.,2001)
So…What can we do to helpolder adults increase theirwillingness and ability touse technology?
Older adults and the internet• Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)initiative exists to improve website accessibility• The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and theNational Library of Medicine (NLM) developed“senior-friendly” website guidelines▫ In 2001, last revised in 2009▫ http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/making-your-website-senior-friendly
WCAG1. Content must be perceivable▫ e.g., a person with hearing difficulty must find a visualrepresentation of audio information2. Interface elements must be operable▫ e.g., people without much strength in hands or fingers must beable to view menus for as long as needed by disabling time outs3. Controls and content must be understandable4. Content must be robust enough to work withcurrent and future technologies▫ e.g. adaptable to different browsers, readers, etc.
NIA/NIH Senior-Friendly Guidelines• Guidelines include three areas:1. Designing readable text2. Increasing memory and comprehension of webcontent3. Increasing the easeof navigation
NIA/NIH Senior-Friendly Guidelines• Some examples:▫ Break information into short sections▫ Give instructions clearly and number each step▫ Use single mouse clicks▫ Make it easy for users to enlarge text▫ Provide a speech function to hear text read aloud▫ Minimize scrolling
Usability tests with older users• Even when sites comply with guidelines, theyare not necessarily usable for older users▫ If they are expected to use the site, the site should betested with them▫ Usability tests should use think-aloud method andobservation
Research examples1. Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)▫ Evaluation of senior-targeted websites▫ Compared to user experience by older adults2. Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)▫ Usability study for power wheelchair with multi-modal feedback interface and collision-avoidance feature
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)• Hart, T.A., Chaparro, B.S., & Halcomb, C.G.(2008). Evaluating websites for older adults:Adherence to „senior-friendly‟ guidelines and end-user performance. Behavior & InformationTechnology, 27, 191 – 199.• Aim of research was to evaluate three websitesdesigned for older adults in terms of:▫ How well they adhere to “senior friendly”guidelines▫ Overall ease of use and satisfaction
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)Experiment 1:• Four researchers served as evaluators, andwere given:▫ A list of 40 websites to visit▫ A list of 24 “senior-friendly” guidelines▫ A guideline ratings checklist for each website• The websites to be evaluated were chosen bythe use of a search engine▫ Used keywords like “seniors” and “elderly”▫ Needed a statement on homepage indicatingtarget audience was 50 years of age and older
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)Experiment 1:• Results▫ 7 guidelines were scored as either “frequently”or “always” present in 97% of sites▫ 4 guidelines were only followed by 6% or fewer ofthe websites
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)Experiment 2:• 3 websites (differing in compliance toguidelines) were evaluated in a usability studywith older adults• 21 participants over the age of 50 wereselected from a local retirement community▫ All had previous experience using the internet▫ Classified into “novice,” “average user,” and“expert”
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)Experiment 2:• Participants were given 5 search tasks• Performance measurements:▫ Perceived difficulty▫ Task success (accuracy, efficiency, time tocompletion, and satisfaction)
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)Experiment 2:• Results▫ Success Participants had more success with the mostcompliant website▫ Efficiency Measured as number of pages traversed at eachsite, minus number of pages necessary to completethe task No significant effects▫ Time No significant effects
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)Experiment 2:• Results▫ Preference Overall preference evenly distributed across 3 sites▫ Satisfaction Participants rated the medium compliant websitehigher than the other two▫ Effects of user experience level? No significant effects Trend for Expert group to prefer most compliantwebsite
Hart, Chaparro, & Halcomb (2008)Experiment 2:• Discussion▫ The website most compliant with “seniorfriendly” guidelines resulted in higher tasksuccess But not better efficiency, satisfaction, orpreference▫ The most compliant website was also complex,and may have been problematic to novice users• Demonstrates importance of usability studies
Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)• Wang, R.H., Mihailidis, A., Dutta, T., & Fernie,G.R. (2011). Usability testing of multimodalfeedback interface and simulated collision-avoidance power wheelchair for long-term-carehome residents with cognitive impairments.Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development,48, 801 – 822.
Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)• Background:▫ Interface features for power wheelchairs arebeing developed to help navigate away fromobstacles▫ Multisensory approach may be useful for olderadults by compensating for sensory impairment
Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)• In this study, 5 long-term-care home residentsevaluated device usability▫ All residents had mild or moderate cognitiveimpairments▫ The device was used for six one-hour sessions• Observations, feedback interviews, and outcomequestionnaires were completed during and afterthe sessions
• Results▫ Time to learn operation Residents performed a majority of basic skillsneeded to drive the device Those with less experience driving vehicles neededmore practice▫ Workload Residents reported low levels of workload (assessedby NASA-TLX)Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)
Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)• User Satisfaction Results▫ Based on comments, interviews, and questionnaires▫ Overall device: Residents considered it useful and interesting Recognized that the device helped them be moremobile and independent by preventing accidents▫ Multimodal Feedback Interface: Simple, one-step auditory prompts did notcommunicate number and proximity of all obstacles Most residents understood that visual arrowsindicated suggested directions Positive reactions to haptic feedback indicatingobstacles
Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)• Ease of Use Results▫ All residents indicated at the end of the sessionsthat they easily understood how to drive thewheelchair and use the feedback Intuitive• Speed Results▫ Some residents recommended a higher max speed Cited the speed of elevator doors compared to thespeed of the chair to be a problem
Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)• Measure of User Satisfaction▫ All were “satisfied” to “very satisfied”• Measure of Psychosocial Impact on Wellbeing▫ All residents indicated that the device either hadlittle impact on well-being, or contributed topositive well-being
Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, & Fernie (2011)• Based on feedback, authors suggest that futurecollision-avoidance power wheelchairs include:▫ Auditory feedback▫ Visual indicators around the joystick controller todisplay directions of movement▫ Blocks to joystick movement in the directions ofobstacles▫ Increased driving speed
Summary• Technology can better benefit older adults ifusability studies are performed• Hart, Chaparro, and Halcomb (2008)▫ Assessed websites for compliance with senior-friendly guidelines; compared compliance with usersatisfaction among older-adult users▫ Found that task success was not necessarily relatedto user satisfaction• Wang, Mihailidis, Dutta, and Fernie (2011)▫ Performed usability testing for a power wheelchair▫ Found that device was effective and users weresatisfied▫ Users also provided useful feedback
ReferencesDyck, J.L. & Smither, J.A. (1995). Computer anxiety and the older adult: Relationships withcomputer experience, gender, education and age. In Human Factors Perspectives onHuman-Computer Interaction. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and ErgonomicsSociety.Echt, K.V., Morrell, R.W., & Park, D.C. (1998). Effects of age and training formats on basiccomputer skill acquisition in older adults. Educational Gerontology, 24, 3 – 25.Hart, T.A., Chaparro, B.S., & Halcomb, C.G. (2008). Evaluating websites for older adults:Adherence to „senior-friendly‟ guidelines and end-user performance. Behavior &Information Technology, 27, 191 – 199.Melenhorst, A.S., Rogers, W.A., & Caylor, E.C. (2001). The use of communication technologies byolder adults: Exploring the benefits from the user‟s perspective. In Proceedings of theHuman Factors and Ergonomics Society 45th Annual Meeting, 8 – 12.National Institute on Aging. (2002). Older adults and information technology: A compendium ofscientific research and web site accessibility guidelines. Washington, DC: USGovernment Printing Office.Russell, C. (1998). The haves and the want-nots. American Demographics, April, 10 – 12.Wang, R.H., Mihailidis, A., Dutta, T., & Fernie, G.R. (2011). Usability testing of multimodalfeedback interface and simulated collision-avoidance power wheelchair for long-term-care home residents with cognitive impairments. Journal of Rehabilitation Research &Development, 48, 801 – 822.