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).
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).
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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Borchers, J. (2001). A Pattern Approach to Interaction Design: John Wiley & Sons.
Borchers, J. (2002). Teaching HCI design patterns: Experience from two university courses. Patterns in Practice A Workshop for UI Designers at CHI 2002 International Conference on Human Factors of Computing Systems: Citeseer.
Carvalhais, M. (2008). Learning and studying interaction design through design patterns. Proceedings of the 15th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs - PLoP '08. New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.
Gregor, P., Newell, A. F., & Zajicek, M. (2000). Designing for Dynamic Diversity - interfaces for older people. Human Factors.
Koukouletsos, K., Khazaei, B., Dearden, A., & Ozcan, M. (2009). Teaching Usability Principles with Patterns and Guidelines (Vol. 289, pp. 159-174): Springer US.