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The library of essays of Proakatemia

UI/UX design for seniors + Case study + Application



Kirjoittanut: Hassan Chakir - tiimistä SYNTRE.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 10 minuuttia.

I. Introduction

User interface and user experience (UI/UX) design for elders is an important part of developing user interfaces and experiences that are tailored to the needs and preferences of older folks. As the senior population grows, it is more critical to ensure that digital products and services are accessible and user-friendly to this group. Designing UI/UX for elders necessitates careful consideration of their specific traits and concerns. Older persons may have various levels of physical, cognitive, and sensory ability, which might affect their engagement with digital devices. As a result, it is critical to build designs that are straightforward, inclusive, and easy to use.

Also, It’s worth noting that, unlike earlier generations, the Baby Boomer group has reached retirement age and is actively participating in internet activities. However, elderly users frequently suffer constraints as their health deteriorates. Visual impairment, mobility challenges, and trouble adapting to changes can all make it difficult for them to use their favorite apps. It is critical to respect elderly consumers by offering them smooth digital experiences.

II. Understanding seniors and their interaction with the internet

The seniors or also known as the “elderly” are defined as a person with the chronological age of 65 years old and above whereby those from 65 to 74 years old are considered as “early elderly” and those over 75 years old are called “late elderly”.

In recent years, younger adults have consistently outpaced their older counterparts in embracing new technologies, a trend that has been consistently documented by Pew Research Center. However, an in-depth analysis of a 2021 survey reveals an interesting shift: older adults, specifically those aged 65 and above, have substantially increased their adoption of crucial digital technologies compared to a decade ago. Consequently, the gap between the oldest and youngest adults in terms of tech usage has significantly narrowed.

The survey revealed that smartphone ownership is nearly ubiquitous among individuals aged 18 to 29, with 96% owning a smartphone, while only 61% of those aged 65 and older own one, resulting in a 35 percentage point difference. Interestingly, this gap has notably decreased from 53 points in 2012. Additionally, the data shows that smartphone ownership is high among those aged 30 to 49, at 95%, and remains prevalent among those aged 50 to 64, with 83% reporting owning a smartphone in 2021. (Faverio, 2022)

When it comes to ownership of tablet computers, individuals aged 30 to 49 emerged as the demographic most likely to own one in 2021. Approximately 61% of this age group reported owning a tablet, compared to 53% of those aged 50 to 64. Meanwhile, 46% of individuals aged 18 to 29 and 44% of those aged 65 and older indicated owning a tablet.(Faverio, 2022)

Another survey made by Google (2021) Demonstrates that the majority of senior citizens who are active online enthusiasts engage with the digital world for at least six hours every day and own an average of five devices. Among these “digital seniors,” 82% regularly use their smartphones. Interestingly, a significant portion of their digital engagement is attributed to the time spent watching TV. This is evidenced by data from Comscore, a global media measurement and analytics company, which indicates a 10% increase in YouTube video consumption among adults aged 55 and above from May 2020 to May 2021.

As a conclusion, it is vital to consider both usage of mobile phones and computers for seniors when building a website or application. In addition, the increase of the number of users of the internet didn’t just happen, but it was a result of the fact elderly people are having some basic level of using the electronic devices and the internet. Which means that they already have a certain way to understand some platforms when it comes to the UI/UX.

III. Key challenges found in the UI/UX design – Case study

The user interface and user experience (UI/UX) design for websites, apps, products, or services is typically aimed at appealing to a wide audience and ensuring ease of understanding for as many individuals as possible. This is why, for instance, iPhones are favored by those who value simplicity and ease of use, while Android devices are often preferred by people who enjoy customization. However, it is important to recognize that these design choices may not always cater to the specific needs and challenges faced by elderly individuals.

A case study conducted in Malaysia in 2021 explored the user interface and user experience design of a mobile banking application specifically tailored for senior citizens. Although the study did not explicitly enumerate the challenges faced by seniors in utilizing such applications, it provided insights into potential hurdles within the context.

The primary issue highlighted in the study was the poor quality of instructions found in mobile banking apps, which often lack clarity, are incomplete, and contain contradictions. This can create difficulties for seniors who may struggle to understand and navigate through such unclear instructions, resulting in a negative user experience. Furthermore, seniors often have limited familiarity with smartphones and mobile applications, making it even more challenging for them to use these interfaces effectively. Their lack of technological proficiency can significantly hinder their ability to utilize mobile banking apps optimally. (Ubam, 2021)

The study also uncovered that seniors may face physical limitations, such as impaired vision or dexterity, which can further impede their usage of these apps. Without accommodations tailored to their specific needs, they may struggle to navigate through the app’s features and complete tasks effectively. Additionally, language barriers were identified as potential obstacles in the study as it was conducted solely in English. Seniors who are not proficient in the language may encounter difficulties comprehending questions and providing accurate responses, potentially compromising the reliability of the collected data. (Ubam, 2021)

In order to address the challenges faced by seniors in using mobile banking applications, UI/UX professionals have implemented various approaches. One of these approaches is a user-centered design approach, which involves understanding the needs, preferences, and limitations of senior users. 

Through research such as surveys and usability testing, professionals were able to gather insights and feedback directly from seniors. This helped them identify specific challenges and design solutions tailored to meet the needs of this target user group. Another solution that has been implemented is creating a simplified and intuitive interface. This is important because seniors may have limited familiarity with technology. To reduce complexity, unnecessary features were removed and navigation was simplified. Clear and concise instructions were also provided to guide seniors through the application, making it easier for them to understand and use.(Ubam, 2021)

In addition, accessibility features were incorporated to address the physical limitations that some seniors may face. These features included options for adjusting font sizes, contrast levels, and color schemes to enhance visibility. The interface was also optimized for touch interactions, considering seniors with dexterity issues.(Ubam, 2021)

To overcome language barriers, UI/UX professionals ensured that the content within the application was presented in a clear and concise manner. They used plain language and avoided technical jargon to make it easier for seniors to understand the information and instructions provided.(Ubam, 2021)

Recognizing that seniors may face challenges in getting started with mobile banking applications, UI/UX professionals also implemented user education and onboarding processes. These include interactive tutorials, tooltips, and contextual help to guide seniors through the initial setup and familiarize them with the application’s features and functionalities.(Ubam, 2021)

The overall goal of implementing these solutions is to improve the user experience for seniors using mobile banking applications. By making these applications more accessible, intuitive, and user-friendly, professionals hope to empower seniors to confidently and effectively manage their finances online.

IV. Designing a website for seniors’ learning platform

When a project is exclusively designed for old people, we need to consider all of the previous concerns. The best design that could work in this situation should have certain rules into it that need to be respected.However, a great senior friendly design should be a good design for anyone else.

For instance, the project we have to work with is a learning platform that should be used first by seniors, and then by their teachers that could be any age group for generation. The project we are supposed to design for today is called Sen Uni and is supposed to be a place where elderly individuals can learn as well as a place to attract people who want to teach.

A. Things to keep in mind

As individuals enter old age, their vision may undergo various transformations. For example, many seniors rely on reading glasses or prefer larger font sizes. The color blue may also appear less vibrant to older people, potentially decreasing visual contrast when used in designs.(Polyuk, 2022). Therefore, it is important for websites and apps targeting an older demographic to increase color contrast.

To make it easier for users, keep text and button sizes large. Sans serif typefaces are typically better for on-screen reading, and it’s essential to test with a screen reader before making a website or web app public. For optimal legibility, use a minimum font size of 16 pixels. Ultimately, giving users the ability to adjust font sizes at their discretion is ideal. (tennant, 2011)

Additionally, icons can be a source of confusion. It is important to label icons with text whenever possible to ensure that everyone understands their purpose. While some older adults are just as tech-savvy as younger generations, there are many who may not be familiar with certain icons and their functions.

Interaction is a crucial aspect of the user experience, and visual cues play a significant role in facilitating these interactions. For older adults, it is essential that these visual cues are clear, easy to understand, and simple to interact with. This becomes even more critical as the target demographic ages and may experience a decline in motor skills. 

It is better to go with recommendations given by Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, that buttons be at least 9.6mm in size (44 x 44 pixels on an iPad). However, for interfaces aimed at older individuals, it is advisable to increase this size to improve usability. Designers should always consider the minimum recommended size or distance as the bare minimum for interfaces geared towards older users.(Polyuk, 2022)

To prevent older adults from experiencing cognitive overload due to slower mental processing, it is beneficial to gradually introduce product characteristics and use a minimalist design. Designers should also be mindful of not dividing their attention with multiple tasks or overwhelming the screen with too many elements. This can help improve user experience for this demographic. (Estrada 2022)

When creating designs for older adults, it is crucial to prioritize user-friendliness and provide thorough explanations of unfamiliar functions. Unlike younger generations who are comfortable with technology, many older users may feel hesitant or intimidated by new apps or interfaces. Therefore, it is important to follow UX best practices such as having a simple navigation structure and minimizing sublevels and menus. Additionally, keeping commonly used functions easily accessible can serve as a safety net for these users on the interface. (Polyuk, 2022)

B. Examples

The following examples used here are some of the latest modern designs. It is also important to note that these designs are captured with the help of the platform Dribbble which is a good website for inspiration.

This website caters to senior users by utilizing accessible design principles. Important information is highlighted through visual hierarchy, headlines are in large and legible fonts, and bullet lists and call to action (CTA) buttons are clearly distinguished with color. The overall structure of the website is familiar and easy to navigate, providing an engaging user experience for seniors.

This is already a close enough application for the platform we are aiming for, it combines learning and entertainment together. This design is an example of a product for seniors. Pay attention to the app’s simplicity and space around design elements that make the user experience easy and pleasant. Buttons under profiles are visible, and the solution with icons works better here than plain text.

C. Sen Uni website design

Analyzing the previous design of Sen Uni, it seems to serve its basic functions. The background imagery showcases a group of seniors, effectively representing the essence of Sen Uni’s offerings. However, the background occupies only a small portion of the overall page, possibly influenced by the dominant presence of the expansive navigation bar and the positioning of the logo above the menu bar.

In specific sections, the navigation bar disappears upon scrolling, but it reappears back in a different placement with improved structure and resolution. Another adjustment could be adding a title above the list of posts below, aimed at enhancing clarity for older individuals regarding the content and purpose of that section.

Given the numerous issues elderly persons may have while browsing user interface or user experience designs, it is critical to cover all areas from top to bottom while keeping simplicity in mind. Less is more. Notably, the navigation bar has been shrunk, leaving plenty of room for other items on the webpage. Furthermore, a large “Contact Us” button has been underlined to make teacher recruiting simpler, satisfying one of Sen Uni’s key needs.

When reviewing the site content, it appears that there is more breathing room, with background colors in soft tones of yellow and purple complimenting the logo. A graphical representation of senior personnel is displayed on the right side, offering insight into the platform’s intended audience. The title is given in Latvian, followed by two buttons: logging in and registering up. Given that the signup procedure is only completed once, the “Login” button is more prominently emphasized to allow for multiple logins. Furthermore, there has been a restructure. For instance, with partner information being contained within a frame on the site rather than taking up a whole page. Maintaining proper space between pieces is critical to ensuring clarity and readability.

V. Conclusion___

Creating user experiences (UX) tailored for seniors is a fundamental part of inclusive design. By recognizing and addressing the unique needs and obstacles encountered by older individuals, designers can craft digital interfaces that are not only accessible but also enjoyable for this demographic. It’s essential to remember that effective design goes beyond just appearance; it’s about establishing an environment where users of all ages can interact seamlessly and efficiently with technology.

As technology advances, it’s crucial to ensure that no one is left behind. Implementing these design principles specifically for seniors not only enhances the usability of your product for older users but also elevates the overall user experience for everyone. By making your application senior-friendly, you showcase a dedication to inclusivity and accessibility, vital aspects in today’s diverse digital landscape.

References

Faverio, M. 2022. Share of those 65 and older who are tech users has grown in the past decade. Pewresearch. Link: Share of tech users among Americans 65 and older grew in past decade | Pew Research Center

 

Twohing K. 2021. Why marketers’ pictures of seniors are getting old. Think With Google. Link: Digital habits of today’s seniors – Think with Google

 

Ubam, I. E., Othman, M. S., & Abdullah, N. A. 2021. User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) Analysis & Design for Mobile Banking Applications: A Case Study of Seniors in Malaysia. Science Education.

 

Polyuk S. 2022. Age Before Beauty – A Guide to Interface Design for Older Adults. Toptal. Link: A Guide to Interface Design for Older Adults | Toptal®

 

Tennant D. B. 2011. 16 Pixels Font Size: For Body Copy. Anything Less Is A Costly Mistake. Smashingmagazine. Link: 16 Pixels Font Size: For Body Copy. Anything Less Is A Costly Mistake — Smashing Magazine

Estrada R. P. 2022. 4 UX Tips to Reduce Users’ Cognitive Overload and Burnout. Toptal. Link: 4 UX Tips to Reduce Users’ Cognitive Overload and Burnout | Toptal®

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