Usability and the over 60s

Over the last few months I've conducted an awful lot of user tests with the over 60s. At last count it was over 50 users. So it was great to attend Bristol Usability Group last night where Andrew Arch from the W3C's Ageing Education and Harmonisation project was talking about Designing for Older People.

Old computers

Old computers not necessarily used by old people

Over the last few months I’ve conducted an awful lot of user tests with the over 60s. At last count it was over 50 users. So it was great to attend Bristol Usability Group last night where Andrew Arch from the W3C’s Ageing Education and Harmonisation project was talking about Designing for Older People.

Many of the recommendations we’d made to our clients in designing for the age group were backed up by the W3C guidelines.

Here are a few of the recommendations talked about:

  • Browser accessibility functionality has a stigma attached as so is not often used by this age group.
  • Including an in-page font-size control is perhaps the most useful and most common thing a designer can do
  • This age group struggle with small hyperlinks and other small areas where they need to click – e.g. radio buttons with no direct html label tag.
  • There is a danger of patronising this age group with ‘big’ and ‘blue’ text.  They still appreciate design.
  • In designing for this age group there is an increase in usability for all user groups (Rather like the Usability Bonus the now defunct Disability Rights Commission discussed)
  • Older people may not be familiar with using a mouse having only ever owned a laptop
  • This age group is very wise so often have plenty to say in a user test meaning a typical hour’s test won’t cover as much as the same amount of time with a younger person

Thanks to Dave Ellender for organising and hosting the evening.  Great chatting all things accessibility afterward with Ann McMeekin and the BUG glitterati.

Update: Ann McMeekin has done a much more indepth write-up of Andrew’s talk

Leave a Reply