At its best, technology can have a profound effect on people's lives. [...] But even the best [health] products can fail if they're not created with people in mind.
- Navy Design mission statement
According to the Administration on Aging, by 2030 roughly 19% of the US population will be over 65. That's a huge chunk of people might end up being underserved if we don't design with accessibility in mind.
This article from Navy Design has a wealth of information about how older individuals interact with technology, some of which I have distilled below:
1. Device use
While using smartphones is second nature to most younger people older individuals view them as “annoying” and “fiddly”. If it's a product or service for those 50+ "let's make an app for that" probably isn't the right solution.
They prefer close relationships with a small groups of trusted individuals (not big, unimportant social networks).
3. Life stage
Security questions can implicitly assume where in life a user is. “What was the model of your first car?” which may be perfectly easy to remember for a 30-year-old but for a 66-year-old it is ludacris; that was thirty years ago!
4. Experience with technology
Interrogate all parts of your design for usability; even the parts you didn’t create. People who didn’t grow up with computers may have never used the interface elements we take for granted, like that the scroll bar allows you to move up and down on a page.
We need to remember to empathize with all potential users when designing new products and services, especially since reach has increased so exponentially.