Saturday, December 23, 2006

Designing websites for older users

Recommendations for making the Web more accessible for seniors ...

"According to the 2001 UK census, the UK now has more people aged over 60 than under 16. It also revealed that there are now 1.1 million people aged over 85. Webcredible recently analysed and compared the results of 16 usability testing sessions - 8 of these sessions were conducted with elderly users (i.e. over the age of 65), and 8 with younger users (i.e. under the age of 40).

The 40-minute 'talk-aloud' sessions involved asking participants to find information on a range of government websites.

Assigning blame
The main finding of our study was that elderly users were more likely to assign blame when using the Internet.

Of the 8 elderly participants, 3 appeared to blame themselves for any difficulties which they encountered (sample quotes: "I don't really know what I'm doing"; "It's probably my fault"; "This always happens to me"). 4 of the elderly users, however, seemed to blame the site(s) for any difficulties which they encountered (sample quotes: "I hate it when websites do this"; "Well, that's stupid"; "That doesn't make any sense"). We found that the younger group of users were far less likely to assign explicit blame for any difficulties encountered - with only 1 user from this group assigning blame (to themselves).

Emotional reaction
We also found that elderly users used far more emotive words and phrases when referring to websites than younger users. All of the elderly users employed strongly positive or negative words in their remarks, such as "love", "hate", "stupid", "helpful" and "friendly". Indeed, one participant even talked to the website as if it were a pet ("That's a good boy")!

In contrast, only 2 of the younger participants expressed themselves in comparably strong terms (both when talking negatively about aspects of a site)."    (Continued via Programmers Heaven)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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