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Things to be taken care of when designing apps for the elderly

Mobile Application Blog

Change is constant. The only undeniable unchanging truth is that people age. We haven’t found the elixir of youth or the Philosopher’s Stone yet. As the technology advances, so does the significant subset of people who can't keep up with it.


I remember my grandfather struggling to use Microsoft Word. I wrote down detailed instructions for him.

Once he got used to it, he ended up writing an entire book, but the beginning was a silent struggle.

Have you tried talking about the latest Android application development with someone older? You will, without a doubt, come across the phrase ‘I don’t understand how to use it. It’s not meant for me.’

Android application development fails to be all-inclusive.

That is a classic example of ageism. You see, an app developer looks at the target demographic – millennial.

He/she only rolls out new updates catering to the same target audience.

This is a Catch-22 situation. The elderly will never fall into the target audience because of:

  1. They don’t understand/need the apps
  2. It’s not designed for them

An app development company misses out tons of potential consumers. 95% of people own a Smartphone around the globe.

A whopping 51% of all users shop online on their mobile devices. It is safe to assume that many senior citizens use it as well.

If the company decides to build an app for the elderly, they should know that it is an utterly different ball game.

Some things an Android app developer should keep in mind when designing apps for the older people are described herewith.

  • Minimalism is the key: It may seem like a great idea to an app development company to load up on features and design aspects. Much like you would at an all-you-can-eat buffet while building apps to give the users a rich experience. The same can't be said about conceiving apps for the elderly.

    Most 60-80-year-olds have long-sightedness or color vision problems. Hence, clogging up the screen isn’t the best idea. A clean, minimalistic design with a color scheme that’s easy on the eyes is the best. For inspiration, turn to ClariaZoom. It is a low vision app that permits users to zoom in, change the contrast. It also displays much larger buttons for more accessibility.
  • Throw out the irrelevant text: It may seem okay for millennials have lots of content on the screen. But, a senior citizen will not be able to have the same clarity while using the app. Unnecessary texts will confuse them and render them helpless. A perfect example of this the app called Simple Social. It is a decluttered version of Facebook for older people.
  • Give them a demo: A senior citizen will not have the same capacity to learn. They won't be able to follow complicated instructions. A demo is essential to show them the features and explain what happens when they click on a particular button and so forth.

    Unlike other apps where this demo doesn't reappear after the user learns the features, an Android app developer should make sure the demo is always available for people when they forget something or want to revisit a specific function.
  • Don’t assume that someone else will teach them: There may be a lot of people who live in nursing homes or have no one to explain how a particular app works. That can be pretty frustrating for them, and they may end up uninstalling the app. That defeats the whole purpose of designing the app.
  • Encourage them: Think of it as a little game. Add trophies and accomplishments that show up once they complete a specific task to make them feel confident in their abilities.
  • Apps with a Read-Aloud function: This is very useful for people who have an extremely poor vision and can turn on the read-aloud function to use and navigate within the app.
  • Font and Readability: Avoid a fancy font that might significantly reduce readability for the elderly. Go with the basic fonts and use larger font size to improve their user experience further.
  • Usage: What is the app going to be all about? Will they care enough to download onto their phone? These are significant questions that need answers before you even start on any design apps.

    Pillboxie is a medical app that reminds senior citizens to take their meds on time. Find My iPhone is another such app that can help people with diminishing mental abilities. A streaming service like Netflix is also pretty handy for when they want to relax and watch series and movies. Your app should have a definite purpose and be useful to old people.
  • Easy Navigation: Make sure that it is easy to navigate around in the app with clearly labeled buttons and help when they need it.
  • Push Notifications: Avoid the standard cues and notifications as people using it may be hard of hearing. Use a push notification that integrates using a lot more of the screen, louder sound, and visual cues as well.

Read More: Push notifications: one way to inc…chases that works

  • Consumes less battery: This is a design concept helpful for older people as well as young but is more beneficial for older people who may not be able to keep charging their phone if they are out and about.
  • Keep disabilities in mind: An overly complicated app isn't the right thing to do especially when the old person using may have a disability. A simple and straightforward interface that gets the job done is what's required.
  • Avoid misconceptions about old people and technology: Contrary to popular belief, older people aren't technophobes. They use Internet and mobile devices in huge numbers and want to feel included when new technology is revealed.
  • Market Research: Perform a simple survey and ask older people to list their concerns with current apps and how they would like some changes to be made. A controlled study with a beta app can give you valuable insights to understand how to design better apps.

Inclusion and insights from older people during the Android application development can vastly improve how apps are designed for the elderly. For example, when women are included at the writers' table, phenomenal movies like Gone Girl get made.

Similarly, having a say in the matter can prove to be tremendously useful for older people can prove to be a giant step for humankind.

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The NineHertz - Mobile App and Web DevelopmentThe NineHertz
Category: Mobile App DevelopersCompany about: The NineHertz is a Mobile App and Web Development company working for the businesses all around the Globe. We are active since 2008 and constantly maturing throughout our journey by creating prodigious apps for world's most inventive brands. We are specialized in Mobile App and Website Development, Digital Marketing, and providing Salesforce and E-commerce Solutions to a broad spectrum of businesses. We at The NineHertz strive for excellence in quality and seamless user’s experience. Business V ...
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