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Inclusive user experiences for older web users

Inclusive user experiences for older web users



Talk given at a11yLDN Meetup, 1st December 2011, at City University, London. Overview of the relationship of web accessibility and inclusive user experiences for older web users.

Talk given at a11yLDN Meetup, 1st December 2011, at City University, London. Overview of the relationship of web accessibility and inclusive user experiences for older web users.



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  • Guidelines on designing web sites for older people from: National Institute on Aging’s “Making Your Website Senior-Friendly” Guidelines (2010) – http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/website.htm WebCredible’s articles on older people and web usability: http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-usability/older-users.shtml and http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/ucd/older-users-design.shtml Jakob Nielsen on usability for older web users http://www.useit.com/alertbox/seniors.html – and Nielsen Norman report with 46 usability guidelines ($125) http://www.nngroup.com/reports/seniors/ (both 2002) -
  • Dana Chisnell and Ginny Redish’s review of usability for older adults available as a PDF from: http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/ucd/older-users-design.shtml

Inclusive user experiences for older web users Inclusive user experiences for older web users Presentation Transcript

  • Inclusive user experiences for older web users David Sloan @sloandr 1 st December 2011 a11yLDN Meetup, City University, London
  • Older Web Users and Inclusive Web Design: it’s important!
    • Population increase in UK – projections for mid 2008-2033
    • Source: Office of National Statistics
  • What do we think we know?
    • WAI-AGE project - applying “WAI accessibility” to older people
    • Commercial research from Nielsen Norman, WebCredible
    • Gerontechnology – academic research (psychology, medicine, computing science)
    • … lots of guidelines
  • Understanding age-related accessibility issues
    • Chronological age is not a reliable indicator of capability or performance. Also consider:
      • (Cap)ability
      • Aptitude (technology experience)
      • Attitude (anxiety, perserverence)
        • Chisnell and Redish (2004) Designing Web sites for Older Adults: Expert review of Usability for Older adults at 50 web sites.
  • Understanding age-related accessibility issues
    • Capability issues are highly individual , in terms of:
      • The accessibility issue(s) a person may have
      • The way in which these issues were acquired
      • The rate that these issues change in severity
      • The impact of these issues individually and in combination
  • Age-related capability change
    • Sensory: Vision, Hearing
    • Motor: Dexterity
    • Cognitive
      • Fluid intelligence (relating to processing and reasoning, aptitude for learning, working memory, visual attention)
  • Understanding age-related accessibility issues
    • Some capabilities are less prone to decline over time:
      • Crystallised intelligence – knowledge acquired through learning and life experience
      • May help explain older people’s relatively high success levels in ill-defined search tasks
  • Social factors, ageing and inclusive UX
  • Social factors, ageing and inclusive UX
    • Non-engagement vs disengagement
    • Awareness of accessibility needs and acceptability of solutions
    • Cognitive challenges of dealing with change (individual; or relating to OS, device, interface)
      • The suitability of the “simplified” computer or browser
    • Changing social status and access to help
  • Ways forward: for authors and developers
    • Don’t ignore WCAG; look at WAI-AGE’s age-related success criteria
    • Focus on reducing cognitive load
    • Develop empathy for the needs and wants of older people – involve older people throughout user experience design
    • Be sensitive to perceptions and awareness of “accessibility”
  • Ways forward: Designing to support changing access needs
    • Simplifying the browsing experience
      • HTML 5 Form elements; AJAX for usability
      • Desktop and mobile apps – removing the browser UI but preserving basic interaction conventions
    • Accommodating age-related capability change
      • Normalising accessibility features (c/f TV volume; control, iPad zoom)
      • Detection and gradual adaptation – e.g. our work with the SUS-IT project http://sus-it.lboro.ac.uk
  • Ways forward: Involving older people more effectively in web design
    • Taking advantage of the crystallised knowledge of older web users
      • Involving older people in participatory design
      • User interface paradigms and metaphors that are recognisable and appropriate
    • Understanding more about how older people acquire and apply skills to use the Web
      • Ethnography of older people as Web learners and users
  • Summary
    • Older web users are not a homogeneous group
    • Older web users may have accessibility needs – but may not know it or have the appropriate technology; or may resist certain “solutions”
    • Focus on reducing cognitive demand on browsing
    • This challenge won’t go away unless we all work to evangelise and practice UCD with older people (…our future selves)
  • Acknowledgments
    • Paula Forbes and Sergio Sayago (photos; insight from ethnography with older web users)
    • Prof Leela Damodaran and Wendy Olphert (SUS_IT project )
    • email: [email_address]
    • twitter: @sloandr
    • blogs: www.58sound.com --- blog.dundee.ac.uk/eaccessibility
    • work: www.dmag.org.uk --- www.computing.dundee.ac.uk