To find out how to improve an experience for someone, it is often useful to learn how they use it.
SiDE is working with Carnegie Mellon University and the IBM Thomas J Watson Research Center in New York to study how age-related issues such as reduced vision, cognitive and motor skills affect how older users behave on computers. An early study looked at the differences between how older and younger people search on the web, by tracking clicks and recording eye movement.
Research is also taking place on how to improve social networking sites for older users. The aim is to put together a list of recommendations on how to address the concerns and difficulties of older users, ranging from how they look, how they work, and how they address issues such as privacy.
Many applications and platforms are designed for an audience of twenty-somethings with computer skills, and can therefore be intimidating to older generations. Models will automatically point out accessibility and usability problems to developers, who may not be fully aware of the difficulties faced by the older users of their applications and platforms. By focusing on a wider spread of the population, companies and organisations can increase engagement – and sales – online.
Vicki Hanson (firstname.lastname@example.org)