Sequence - A UI Pattern Designed for Older Adults

Sequence | A UI Pattern Designed for Older Adults
BFA Student: Alessandro Battisti
Faculty Advisor: Kristian Simsarian and Haakon Faste

Currently, we are designing our applications for a young demographic: 0-45. The need of people over 65 are rarely taken into account. Older adults (people over 65) find most software difficult to use. They find it overwhelming to begin, and if they do try to understand it, the patterns and conventions make no sense to them. Moreover, the physical realities of aging are not taken into account. Realities such as reduction in cognitive processing speed, loss of fine motor precision, and a reduction in vision. This is a shame, as new sharing economy services, like Lyft and Taskrabbit, would help older adults stay in their homes longer, and lead independent lives. This is not simply a humanitarian effort; in addition to the human need for usability in software, there is a large business opportunity left on the table. The over 65 population in the US is the fastest growing market with the highest disposable income.

What this means for the software community is that we need new ways for older adults to interact with the services that would be so useful to them. In software design, user interface (UI) patterns are a common way to streamline the design process. Patterns are tried-and-true, tested templates that can be recycled and modified for new contexts. This is why ordering a ride on Uber and Lyft are so similar: there is a general ‘best way’ for the user to complete that task. With this in mind, my thesis begins exploring design patterns specifically for the usability needs of older adults. Sequence is the first design pattern specifically designed for older adults. Further work is needed to develop more patterns for older adult users, as well as create an online, open-source repository for such patterns.