This is a research project for my Accessibility Studies Capstone at Central Washington University. I investigated the use of mobile apps by the elderly to gain a broad view of their user experience, and made recommendations for designing accessible mobile apps for elders based on my collected data.
UX Research: Accessible Mobile App Design for Elders
April 2019 - May 2019
Paper & Pen, Adobe XD
Accessibility, Mobile Design, Elders, UX Research
Q1: “What is your age? Gender? Previous jobs?”
Sample one indicated she is a female and is 72 years old, and she was a professor at Central Washington University before she retired. Sample two indicated she is a 70-year-old female and was also a professor at Central Washington University before retiring. Sample three indicated she was a 91-year-old female, and she sale make up products before retired. Sample 4 indicated he is a 66 years old male, and he is a bus driver. Sample five indicated he is a 65-year-old male, and he is a store manager.
Q2: What are your experiences with mobile Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon?
An interesting finding among the samples is five out of five indicate no instruction provided has created barriers when they use mobile apps. Four out of five indicated the print our small or the color contrast is not good for them. Three out of five indicated the interface or setting are confusing and have made them having trouble and navigating through the app, and one has reported that she always lose things because she didn’t know how to navigate in multiple interfaces, another reported that she had trouble finding the privacy setting on Facebook and Instagram. Three out of five indicated the technical terminologies have made the app hard to understand for them. One indicated that she didn't know what the word "download" means, another indicated that he didn't know the meaning of hashtags (#) on Facebook and Instagram.
Q3: What are some important things to improve mobile apps for your experience?
Five out of five have indicated absent need to make the navigation process feel steps and easy to navigate. Five out of five have shown the font size, and the color contrast needs to improve, and some of them made suggestions on font family, size, and color contrast should be changeable. Four out of five indicated apps need to provide clear instruction or can even create an interactive instruction page. Three out of five show apps need to use simple words and plain languages or give definitions to technical terminologies. Three out of five people believe apps need to be stricter on the privacy setting and two out of five believe apps need to be better at detecting and blocking scams and irritative information. One said she thinks the default privacy of Facebook should be set as private instead of public, and another has reported seeing many scams and irritative comments on Instagram and suggested to have better detection on them.
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In 2018, there were more than 3 billion smartphone users worldwide, and by 2021, there will be more than 3.8 billion smartphone users. Among these users, in 2018, 66% of people aged 65 and over and 87% of people aged 50-64 had access to the Internet¹. Now in 2019, this number has increased dramatically and continues to grow. The WCAG guide had only satisfied the basic requirement of accessibility, and it had not satisfied all the needs of elder users. To reduce barriers and enable everyone to fully enjoy the functions of mobile software, IT developers and designers should not only follow the WCAG guidelines but also do further user testing to explore the difficulties of users and continuously improve product interface and language design.
The study investigated 5 people who are older than age 65 from Yakima Serious Table Tennis Club to conduct a questionnaire survey. Then organized the data in Excel and tabulate the frequency of responses and look for patterns. The survey questions are:
What is your age? Gender? Previous jobs?
What are your experiences with mobile Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon?
What is the most important thing to improve mobile apps for your experience?
I created the good and bad Log-In interface examples of mobile apps for elders using Adobe Experience Design.
Font family/size is hard to read.
No instruction provided.
Bad color contrast for texts and background.
No description of the app provided.
Font family changed to Serif,
User Guide provided.
Changeable theme (font, color).
Other accessible tools and info provided.
Instruction/description page: Make an instruction page link it to the log-in page, or make an interactive description & instructions page to show all the functions of the app and how to navigate.
Word selection: Putting descriptions in instruction pages to explain terminologies and try to use simple words.
Font/contrast: Make font family, size, and color contrast changeable.
Privacy & Scam detection: Default privacy settings on social media should be set as private instead of public.