Older adults (OAs) are a growing and dominant part of the global population, with specific communication and usability needs. Information technology, such as smartphone applications, has the potential to help OAs stay connected, yet some designs do not appeal to this group of users. Current recommendations for the design of usable smartphone applications for OAs can be hard to apply and difficult to interpret. As a result, designers of smartphone applications do not have a clear set of recommendations for the design of smartphones for OAs. In this paper we elicit and transform usability trends and difficulties experienced directly by tech-savvy1 OA users, into an organised set of recommendations. To do this we conducted an empirical study in four stages: (1) Data extraction. Digital context is extracted through conducting Think Aloud sessions with tech-savvy OAs (aged 50+); (2) Data mapping. Digital content extractions are mapped against 7 key aspects of usability; (3) Validation. Validated mappings through inter-rater reliability testing; (4) Presentation. Presented resultant recommendations as design patterns. Applying this method resulted in a set of 131 Usability recommendations with some overlap, transformed into a set of 14 design patterns that can act as a starting point for designers and developers of smartphone applications for OAs, and for pedagogy. Three of these patterns are presented in this study.
Part of the book: Software Usability