Friday, September 14, 2007

Designing for the elderly: Targeting the wallet of the voice of experience

Universal design will help elderly and everyone ...

"Some demographers estimate that half of the girls born since 2000 will live to see the next century. Parts designers are well advised to give a thought to the fastest growing segment of society—the elderly.

... How to design for this burgeoning group of consumers? Well, don’t, at least not specifically, recommends Davin Stowell, CEO of product design firm Smart Design (New York). He says designers should not limit themselves to products specifically marketed to the aged or elderly, except for extreme products. “We’re becoming a more youthful society,” he notes, not in terms of average age but with reference to how people perceive themselves.

His recommendation: think in terms of ‘universal,’ or better yet, ‘inclusive’ design. Using lighter materials, combining materials with greater contrasts to make products easier to see or for backlighting, and using of soft-touch or other easily handled grips: all are examples of design aspects that appeal to seniors but also offer benefits to most other users, too. “If you design it for everyone, then it’s not stigmatized” as a strictly senior product, he notes. The economics of such inclusive designs also appeal to original equipment manufactures, as not limiting a product enables a processor to manufacture in higher volumes.

One example he cites of inclusive design is door handles, which in the U.S. usually are knobs to be turned, but in Europe are almost always levers. “You don’t think of it as anything special, it’s just better,” he says of the levers, noting that they are easier for children and seniors (and others) to grasp, and also can be easily manipulated even if a person has his hands full. “For the most part, products that work well for the elderly also appeal to others,” he notes. Plus, he notes, what used to be considered traditional for the elderly has changed dramatically. “We’re finding that the tastes of recent retirees is much more similar to that of 30-year olds,” he says."    (Continued via Modern Plastics)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Senior-friendly but Child-resistant Lid - Ergonomics

Senior-friendly but Child-resistant Lid

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