Gerontechnology and Design

The number one mantra designers should follow is to constantly have their users in mind: always design for the user. We can assume the majority of technological products on the market are designed for users with ages ranging from teens to middle aged. There are also numerous applications specifically designed for children including: babies, toddlers, primary school kids, teenagers…really, kids of all ages. However, when you search for applications designed for seniors, a list of applications with functions that are useful to seniors show up, but these apps really don’t appear to be “designed” for them.

It’s safe to say that seniors are not as quick as their younger counterparts in adapting to new technology. However, they try, especially when they acknowledge that it can prolong their livelihood. We strongly believe that the reason why there is this disconnect between seniors and new-tech is due to the general skepticism of the aging population as users. Their needs are not heavily taken into account during the design process.

Gerontechnology is an interdisciplinary field of scientific research in which technology is directed towards the aspirations and opportunities for older persons. Within the field of gerontechnology, gerontological design refers to: the study and practice of building design methods that support elderly users in the built environment. Experts in this field promote health and well-being by increasing the quality of life in the aging population through technology like AAL and inclusive design.

Ollie Campbel defined a comprehensive list of senior application design guidelines with physical, Neuropsychological and social limitation. Physical limitations include: visuals, sounds and motor control. Neuropsychological limitations include: memory, attention and decision making. Finally, social limitations highlights guidelines on how to think in the elderly user’s shoe. Great article, highly recommend a read.

That’s it for now! More on senior-conscious design next week!

Originally published at on December 23, 2015.

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