The trouble with touchscreens: will silver surfers get left behind?
Recent developments with smartphone and tablet technology have led to intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces. But not everyone thinks they do a good job, as many find modern devices difficult to get used to.
As far as I’m concerned, I find smartphones and tablets extremely intuitive. They seem to know exactly what I need when I need it.
But a recent BBC report revealed just how impenetrable smartphone and tablet technology can be for some older people.
There’s a huge group of silver surfers out there who are extremely tech savvy. But what about those people who haven’t kept up to date with their tech?
Different by design
Last time we wrote about the issue, the general feeling was that products should simply be better designed for everyone, rather than being simplified and then targeted at older people (like the Doro phone). Many of you promoted the iPad for its straightforward interface. For example, Judith said:
‘If you look at the comparatively easier to use touchscreen technologies like tablets and iPads, which *everyone* finds quicker to start using effectively, then you have your answer right there: we should be designing technology for people of all ages, and bringing this kind of elegant simplicity into the mainstream, rather than attempting to build unnecessarily complicated kit and interfaces which confuse and discourage people of any age.’
For example, when a call pops up on my phone, I know to pull the phone icon across to the right to answer it. But to someone who has only ever picked up a phone or pressed one button to answer it, how would they know they need to slide the icon to the right?
Taking the first step with tech
My sister will be living abroad next year and in anticipation of this, we bought my mum a tablet so she could keep in touch via Skype. She openly admits that she isn’t great with technology. But once we’d explained the basics and had given a quick demo, she was off and running like a seasoned pro.
My mum showed me that, for older people, it isn’t a question of capability – but more just a question of getting started. So should we be doing more to help older people understand new technology? Or should tech for older people be made different by design?
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