Did you know that in Europe there are more people over 65 than under 5? Those under 5 are already digital natives but it’s not the same for people over 65. However, people over 65 are happy to include new technologies into their lives if they see a clear benefit. Skype, WhatsApp, FaceBook and some others have shown a clear benefit for them be in touch with those they care for. Simple and clear.

90% of the population who are over 65 in Europe have a smart phone (ditrendia 2017); 32.1% live alone (Eurostat 2015); 45% use the Internet at least once a week (Eurostat 2016). This Senior Society are clearly adopting smartphones and it will inevitably grow. While the aging process is not the same for everyone leaving a healthy and independent life clearly is a desire for most of them.
How can we help them do adopt technology for a healthier living?

A senior’s relationship with their Health Care Professionals normally is very close. Most of them have been regularly in touch with them for decades and feel, in many cases, more confident and open with their HCP than with any other person around them. However, this does not mean that we should expect HCP to be the ones explaining patients how to use apps. HCPs may be the ones explaining the apps benefit and directing them to where they may be able to download app but explaining how to use is outside of their remit.

So, if you have in mind developing an app for the Senior Society you have to consider how these people will feel in front of your app. Vision, hearing, hand ability, hand-eye coordination, memory and other capabilities are not the same when you are 30 than when you are 65+ of age. It’s not the same for all people but in general, unfortunately, capabilities decline and if you want seniors to use technology you need to have their capabilities in mind. For example, are you offering a clear and direct benefit for user? Is it easy to understand? Is it easy to use for seniors? Don’t make assumptions, user studies can be very helpful to understand the Cx to ensure the entire journey is clear and have better likelihood of success.

There are several studies that focus on recommendations for how to better design mobile applications for seniors. Lorenz and Oppermann established some key ones and many others follow them. From my view some examples that may help:

Onboarding Process: we are in use to give a lot of information to trusted sites/apps. Senior people are not so expert and clearly don’t feel comfortable sharing upfront personal information. Keep it simple at the start.
Functionality: low functionality systems are easier to learn and understand. Better keep it simple at the beginning and give the option to add more functionalities when gaining confidence.
Contents: Simple, Short, Clear. Explain clearly but avoiding unnecessary text. Repeat key content as much as needed to be clear and help to retain. Before explaining how to use, emphasize the benefit for the user, why should I use this app? Please avoid technical words.
Font Size: after 40 view capability starts declining thanks to presbyopia so font size is key to facilitate reading, even more if you are designing for people 65+. Lorenz and Oppermann recommend a font for this audience between 36pt and 48ppt. May seem too much? Let them adjust text size as per their preference.
Use of colors is relevant that font contrast as much as possible with the background to differentiate and facilitate reading. Some senior people see blue shades distorted or faded. Try to avoid blue color for relevant elements.
Use Simple Background: to avoid interferences when reading.
Add text to Icons: Icons may be really clear to you however seniors may not understand it. Always clarify.
One-level navigation instead of using menu structures: the less interactions the better to avoid confusion.
Bottons: arrange the buttons at the bottom of the interface, so the input-hand will not hide the screen recommend Lorenz and Oppermann. When designing remember eye-hand coordination decline and they need to have a size that helps interaction.
Animation and videos: They may be very helpful but if it takes time to view a senior may think they are doing something wrong or that it’s not working properly for his needs.

Jakob Nielsen has observed that 95% of seniors are “methodical” in their behaviors. This is really relevant because if you give to them the opportunity to see a clear benefit for their health and a way to control their health they aren’t afraid to try new technologies and will persist to learn how to use it.

Allow yourself the opportunity to sit with senior people and understand how they may use your design. Observe what is relevant for them and what is not. How they use it and what can cause them difficulties in the user experience. When designing for the Silver Society customer experience is key for success.

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