Design Patterns
for Mobile User Interfaces
Targeted at Older Adults

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Why use patterns when designing for older adults?

Reducing time constraints

Firstly, although a large amount of research has been conducted regarding older adults and interface design, and findings have been documented in scientific publications, sorting through this information will potentially be extensively time consuming. In this context, the compact but explanatory characteristics of design patterns could provide better guidance for both experienced and novice designers working with older adults, provided that they are based on previous knowledge of observation and experimentation with older adults (Zajicek, 2004).

Sharing HCI knowledge

Secondly, it is especially hard to include specific user-groups, such as older adults, in a user-centred design process (Zajicek, 2004), and it is therefore essential for designers to have access to detailed information regarding interface design solutions. Consequently, the ability to share this information with the HCI community is of paramount importance, and patterns have proven to be a successful means for doing so (Borchers, 2001; Fincher, 1999; Sutcliffe, 2000).

Supporting older adults' specific characteristics

In sum, adequate design guidance is especially important when developing interfaces for older adults. Not only because this user-group is harder to access and include in a typical user-centred design process, but also because their needs and expectations are less homogenous, when compared to a younger group of users (Zajicek, 2006). Furthermore, due to the age-related dynamic diversity (Gregor, Newell, & Zajicek, 2000) of cognitive, motor and sensory capabilities (Zajicek, 2004), it is harder for the designer, whom is generally not an older adult, to understand their specific needs. For all these reasons, design patterns can constitute an invaluable aid when designing for certain user-groups.

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