5. The Web User: Older Adults

Part of evaluating usability is considering the special needs of target audience segments. This chapter presents the specific characteristics of older users (age 65 or older) as an example, as there is significant research available on the special needs of this segment.

5.1 Older Adults and the World Wide Web

The author tries (a little to emphatically) to sell the importance of catering to the needs "older" adults. Truth is, if a significant portion of your audience is codgers, then serving them is important - otherwise, not. The same can be said of any market segment.

5.2 Characteristics of Older Users

The effects of aging impact the capabilities of the user, and these limited capabilities must be considered in design. Specific examples include:

He elaborates quite a bit - fundamentally, there's a lot of statistical evidence that backs stereotypes of old people.

CLASS="en">EN: A note: there has always been statistical evidence to support prejudice, and such conclusions should be regarded with some reservations.

5.3 Web Design Features to Avoid

This section uses a few examples of sites that would be less usable for older users based on the characteristics above. I'll skip the elaboration, as the design guidelines are given afterward, and this merely lampoons examples of "bad" design before providing any useful advice.

5.4 Design Guidelines

The design guidelines provided stem from the characteristics in section 5.2 of the document. The way in which guidelines are derived is very straightforward and self-evident. Examples:

The author goes into a lot of detail to illustrate the various implications of the limitations of older users, but the examples above should suffice to illustrate the point.

5.5 Usability Testing with Older Adults

The author stresses the importance of actually conducting usability testing rather than relying on generalizations or conclusions. This is probably evident in the general nature of the guidelines above (for example, type must be larger to be legible for older users ... exactly how much larger?). In some cases, there may be secondary research - but even then, use it as a starting point for developing test cases.