iDeal Development are proud of beeing a part of the european welfare technology project, iCareCoops. We have no doubt, the project will make a huge difference for a lot of people. We see it, as our assignment to take responsibility and develop a user friendly mobile application, which will transform the elder citizens daily life. There is a tremendous focus on sharing economy in our globalized world. We believe this is exactly where the iCareCoops project fits in.
One of biggest challenges in the future is the fast growing older generation. We have to adjust our communities to those changes, both socially and economically. Our european healthcare systems have to live up to new standards and expectations. While the number of elder people is increasing, our communities and life are getting more digitized. This digitization has a big influence on the older generation, and this leave us with a huge potential.
This is the reason why mobile applications, apps, can have a significant role and influence on the elder’s life quality and enable them to connect to the society. In our everyday life we have integrated mobile applications as a tool for self help and independence. The older generation needs those tools, especially due to their health and limited mobility.
The elder looks at the possibilities for using the mobile applications to improve their life quality. The most important for them is continuity, consistency, normality in routines, control and autonomy. It is very important for the elder to identify themselves with the app. The application needs to fit into the perspective to make it meaningful to them. It is extremely important only to addrelevant information on the mobile applications. The interface needs to be easy to use and read, otherwise misunderstandings will happen. The app will in the worst case scenario be discarded.
Jakob Nielsen, Computer Scientist and specialist in IT-user behaviour, has done a lot of research and studies in elder people’s user behaviour. Physically, the elder has less dexterity, and problems with their eyesight and memory. This significantly influence how they are using the apps. Since the elder didn’t grow up with technology they feel less comfortable with it. Studies show that older users give up 50% earlier, than younger users. This might be because elder users struggle more with understanding the technology and finding alternative paths to a solution.
It is shown that if older people have problems with a given technology, in 90% of the cases they will blame their own capabilities. While younger users will blame the technology and the design.
The elder’s ability to recognize design is limited by their memory. It is a problem for them to remember how to navigate within an app, and especially how they re-find a certain feature. When developing a new design, it is crucial to re-use and keep earlier used navigations to information and functions. About 50% of the elder users have a written guide, with steps and instructions. Major design changes, can render their lists obsolete and the elder users have to make a new list or simple just give up. Another challenge is the possible limited eyesight and dexterity of older people. In order to develop a design, proper focus on colour contrast is very important. Interactive elements can advantageously be designed larger,so they are easier to click.
Another important concept is skeumorphisme. Skeuomorphism is an important concept when digital products are designed. The concept describes a look or design that mimics a real-world objects without any practical function. A high degree of skeuomorphisme has a positive impact on the user experience of elder users. For example, an interactive button in an app design with shadow and highlight, will give the feeling of a real physical button. that way, the elder usershave an opportunity to relate the design to the real world, and therefore the technology can seem less foreign.
Designing for older gener using Google’s Material Design. Material Design a visual design language developed by Google. Material Design uses layers, highlights and shadows to distinguish different elements. By using Material Design we can offer a user-friendly design, which we believe is particularly suitable for elderly users. Material Design is different from Microsoft’s design philosophy Modern UI. The Modern UI is a completely flat design which might be more difficult to read for users with limited technological knowledge and experience. It is important to keep in mind: If an app is too difficult to use, the elder people will find other solutions.
At Ideal Development we take social responsibility and are we proud of being a part of iCareCoops. The focus and ambitions are to create a platform for improving elder care. The european project’s goals are to help the older generation to achieve more freedom, independency and self-help in the future.