During this hard time, lockdowns have been implemented in various countries, leaving people all over the world to stay at home. The only reliable thing that we are left with is the internet. In a lockdown, we rely on the internet to connect with our loved ones, continue working from home, and use certain services, like ordering products online and having access to world news.
Unfortunately, a great chunk of the audience remains greatly affected, the senior citizens. While some can navigate through the technology and use it fairly with ease, the rest are not able to. They often rely on their children or grandchildren to help them use technology. With lockdowns in place, the elder audience is left alone, not able to do simple tasks like video calling their loved ones or ordering essential items online. This is a problem that has always remained, but unfortunately, this section of the population seems to be ignored by the tech world. Solving this problem not only helps in future pandemics but also in a post-pandemic world.
As a UX designer, I realize the fact that the problem is not with the elder audience, rather with the digital interfaces that were not designed keeping everyone in mind, hence resulting in non-accessible interfaces.
The solution: ELDER MATE
This is a solution that focuses on making present interfaces more accessible. Doing this helps the user use all the apps and sites that the world currently uses. This is in the form of an app that the user can download and implement across all apps in the device, and also as a browser extension that can work on websites.
Elder Mate takes into consideration two major type of elder audience, one with high digital literacy and the other with lower digital literacy. The two settings are named as 'Savvy Elders' and 'Starter Elders' accordingly. The user needs to select one setting and then has the option to further customize it so that the implementation is more accurate and personal.
Savvy Elders - This setting helps with age-related issues. To name a few, vision, dexterity, color contrast, color blindness, text sizes, etc.
Starter Elders - This setting is interesting as it taps into the UX of interfaces at a deep level.
Some features are as follows:
Complicated navigations which require multiple clicks to enter a function is simplified down to one click.
Information overload is simplified, by removing split screens, reducing information, and functions on the first fold. (with age, memory recall reduces)
Distractions are removed like ads (with age, ability to focus reduces)
Interactions are simplified like swiping, long hold, double-tap, drop-down menus, hamburger menus, non-static elements, etc
And overall improvements.
Elder Mate helps the elder audience to be more digitally independent and remove the pain of learning to use non-accessible apps and sites by heart, instead make it intuitive.
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