Chaiwoo Lee Talks Older Adult Tech Adoption for Keynote at 24 Hour UX Conference
by Adam Felts
A daylong conference on the user experience (UX) design featured AgeLab Research Scientist Chaiwoo Lee as a keynote speaker.
The annual virtual conference, titled 24 Hours of UX, immerses its participants from across the globe in a full day of conversation on the possible futures of UX design.
Dr. Lee’s presentation focused on design considerations of user interfaces, user experiences, products, and services for older adults, a fast-growing population that has typically been neglected by designers, developers, and engineers.
Traditionally, older adults have been characterized as slow to adopt new technologies and products, but research suggests otherwise. In recent years, older people have become rapid adopters of and users of technology. This may be because of a rising generation of older people who were exposed to technology earlier in life, as well as an increasing number of technologies that are relevant and useful for older people.
Products and services designed expressly for older adults tends to be catered toward “survival” and safety, and focused on basic usability—without considering facets of design like aesthetics, creativity, or convenience. These products tend to reinforce stereotypes and make people feel old—not qualities that excite people to adopt a new product.
Age gives us some information about the possible needs of a prospective user—but it is not a perfect predictor, and it is incomplete. Lifestyle, past experiences, attitudes, personality, values, motivations, social context, and cultural background all intersect with age and health to inform the adoption behavior of an older user. Involving a diverse range of older adults in the design process is a key way of understanding how they perceive and interact with technology, and what solutions are relevant and desirable for them.