Human populations have been aging both in economically developed and developing countries, especially during the recent decades. According to the World Health Organization (2002), seniors over the age of 60 years will reach 1.2 billion in 2025, reaching 2 billion by 2050, which includes 80% in developing countries. The prevalence of aging populations is expected to reconstruct living conditions in several areas, including personal beliefs, culture, economy, education, and social welfare (Chui et al. 2010). As the aging population increases, some technology companies have begun to realize the significance of serving this demographic of users. Currently, the telecommunication industry tends to focus on young adults and middle-aged groups, while research targeting senior populations is still lacking.
Aging populations encounter various problems associated with the use of mobile devices, although this modern technology is widely adopted in the world. Compared with the youth or middle-aged groups, the sensory capabilities of the senior users is deteriorated due to the aging process. The difficulties for aging populations in using model devices fall into several categories: cognition, auditory, haptic, visual, and motor-based troubles (Drew et al. 2013). As a result of these difficulties, designers need to consider user experiences in different situations. For instance, because of deterioration of aging brain cells, the visual acuity of the senior users will decline; in this regard, designers have to decide how to use the design to assist the elderly to understand visual items. Different living conditions also influence the usability of mobile devices. Even in the same city, senior groups will be different regarding their backgrounds, including, but not limited to, income, education, literacy levels, gender, etc. Designers must understand the needs of senior users in different contexts to develop designs to fit local conditions and culture.
Many previous investigators have reported the feasibility of an interface for senior users. The research conducted by Ziefle and Bay (2005) indicated that seniors are in need of functionality, easy access, maximum transparency and minimal ambiguity. Elvio, Micael, and Daniel (2014) revealed that elderly users prefer the multi-touch and body gesture interaction modalities to traditional interfaces. Nevertheless, there are still many gaps that need to be filled. Despite the challenges in this field, the current research thesis proposes to answer the question, “how can the design of a user interface improve the reading experience of seniors?”
Based on current research, this study proposes the principles of design of a digital reading interface for the elderly by analyzing both physical and mental changes during the aging process. A mockup was created and tested to verify the design assumption, which provided suggestions for further revisions and refining.