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Designing with new eyes

What does it mean to design mobile interfaces for older adults? What should considerations a younger designer factor in? As part of a research project conducted during a master’s thesis dissertation, Roxanne Leitao created a set of design patterns to speak to exactly these questions. The research project "aimed to investigate gesture-based interaction, on small touchscreen devices, with older adults."

Photo of Annie Valdes
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I was inspired by Jason's post about how there is a disconnect between the speed of new computer systems and the reaction time of older adults. I imagine that we're talking about adults who are much, much older, or limited in some way (physical, cognitively, etc), and not necessarily people at the younger end of the 50+ range (who aren't much older than me!). This is an interesting counterpoint to the fact that some people might have older, outdated computer systems, which comes with an entirely set of challenges.

This set of design patterns could be a useful resource for people who might be designing websites and digital tools (like apps) for older adults to use, as it is full of very tactical guidance on what the interaction and screen design should consider.

For example, many people assume that sites designed with older users in mind can't have more modern interactions built in, like swiping, and instead believe that clicking is the safest route. The site disproves this myth and explains that actually, swiping is fine, but must consider factors such as orientation on the screen and target size.

This information provides guidelines that help create more useful and effective designs, rather than rigid constraints.

It would be great to see some of these guidelines employed in the designs that will come later in this challenge!

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Slow down!


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Photo of BK Veda Vyas

Hi Annie, Custom design patterns are very relevant when we are dealing with only seniors. Then again the whole purpose of interaction with youth is to help them guide seniors in using the said website/app. So both options may be needed. A simplified pattern for new senior users and regular option as they learn and upgrade with the help of youth. This can help them feel on par with younger generation in time.

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