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Monday, August 08, 2011

How do you design mobile applications for older people? With great care.

The Jakob Nielsen newsletter has a very useful article about the challenges of designing applications for small screens.

His “bottom line” message is that: “Mobile devices require a tight focus in content presentation, with the first screen limited to only the most essential information.”

Nielsen’s research reveals that it's 108% harder to understand information when reading from a mobile screen. Content comprehension suffers when you're looking through a peephole, because there's little visible context. The less you can see, the more you have to remember.

Most older people will grudgingly admit that remembering where they are on web sites gets harder as the years pass. Now do you see the challenge for designing mobile sites for older people?

I think we are probably at the same position with mobile screens as we were 10 years ago with web sites. Not much thought is going into the design. The easiest thing is to replicate the Web experience rather than to design around the constraints (and the benefits) of the technology. This especially applies to ensure the interface works with older people. Dick Stroud

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