Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population

Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population

Towards Universal Design

1st Edition - February 16, 2017

Write a review

  • Authors: Jeff Johnson, Kate Finn
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128044674
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128045121

Purchase options

Purchase options
DRM-free (PDF, Mobi, EPub)
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out

Institutional Subscription

Free Global Shipping
No minimum order


Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population: Towards Universal Design presents age-friendly design guidelines that are well-established, agreed-upon, research-based, actionable, and applicable across a variety of modern technology platforms. The book offers guidance for product engineers, designers, or students who want to produce technological products and online services that can be easily and successfully used by older adults and other populations. It presents typical age-related characteristics, addressing vision and visual design, hand-eye coordination and ergonomics, hearing and sound, speech and comprehension, navigation, focus, cognition, attention, learning, memory, content and writing, attitude and affect, and general accessibility. The authors explore characteristics of aging via realistic personas which demonstrate the impact of design decisions on actual users over age 55.

Key Features

  • Presents the characteristics of older adults that can hinder use of technology
  • Provides guidelines for designing technology that can be used by older adults and younger people
  • Review real-world examples of designs that implement the guidelines and the designs that violate them


Developers, product designers, usability professionals, students in related disciplines or psychology

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1. Introduction

    • What Does “An Aging World” Mean?
    • Why Should the Aging of the World’s Population Matter to Designers?
    • Do We Really Need Yet Another Set of Design Guidelines for Yet Another Subgroup?
    • Moving Forward
    • Organization of Book
    • Note

    Chapter 2. Meet Some Older Adults

    • Who Are We Talking About?
    • The Naming of Things Is a Difficult Matter
    • Sometimes, Age Really Is Just a Number
    • Characteristics of Some Older Adults
    • Personas for This Book

    Chapter 3. Vision

    • Characteristics of Vision in Older Adults
    • Design Guidelines That Help Older Adults (and Others!)

    Chapter 4. Motor Control

    • Motor Control in Older Adults
    • Design Guidelines That Help Older Adults (and Others!)

    Chapter 5. Hearing and Speech

    • Age-Related Changes in Hearing
    • Age-Related Changes in Speech
    • Design Guidelines That Help Older Adults (and Others!)

    Chapter 6. Cognition

    • Cognition in Older Adults
    • Design Guidelines That Help Older Adults (and Others!)

    Chapter 7. Knowledge

    • Digital Technology Knowledge Gap in Older Adults
    • Design Guidelines That Help Older Adults (and Others!)

    Chapter 8. Search

    • Age-Related Differences in Keyword Search
    • Design Guidelines That Help Older Adults (and Others!)

    Chapter 9. Attitude

    • Older Adults’ Attitudes Toward Technology Usage
    • Design Guidelines That Help Older Adults (and Others!)

    Chapter 10. Working With Older Adults

    • Older Adults as Participants in Design and Evaluation
    • Guidelines for Working With Older Adults

    Chapter 11. Case Studies

    • Overview
    • eCAALYX TV User Interface
    • Smart Companion to GoLivePhone
    • ASSISTANT, a Support Tool for Elders Using Public Transportation
    • Subaru Auto Infotainment System
    • Virtual Third-Age Simulator for Web Accessibility

    Chapter 12. Summary and Conclusions

    • Combinations of Age Differences
    • Parting Words

Product details

  • No. of pages: 258
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Morgan Kaufmann 2017
  • Published: February 16, 2017
  • Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128044674
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128045121

About the Authors

Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco. He is also a principal at Wiser Usability, a consultancy focused on elder usability. After earning B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale and Stanford, he worked as a UI designer, implementer, manager, usability tester, and researcher at Cromemco, Xerox, US West, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun. He has taught at Stanford, Mills, and the University of Canterbury. He is a member of the ACM SIGCHI Academy and a recipient of SIGCHI's Lifetime Achievement in Practice Award. He has authored articles on a variety of topics in HCI, as well as the books GUI Bloopers (1st and 2nd eds.), Web Bloopers, Designing with the Mind in Mind (1st and 2nd eds.), Conceptual Models: Core to Good Design (with Austin Henderson), and Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population (with Kate Finn).

Affiliations and Expertise

President and Principal Consultant, UI Wizards, Inc.

Kate Finn

Kate Finn has worked on user interfaces and usability since 1983. After obtaining her Ph.D. in Computational Linguistics from Georgetown University, she conducted research on natural language understanding systems and automated speech recognition. She was at SRI International for 6 years, where she designed and developed prototypes of graphical user interfaces for sophisticated intelligence systems. Since SRI, she has worked as an independent usability consultant, primarily on websites. She organized several workshops on Video-Mediated Communication, and was the lead editor on the book Video-Mediated Communication. She obtained a Certificate in Gerontology to better understand the unique capabilities and needs of older users. Currently Kate is co-founder and CEO of Wiser Usability, Inc. ( She also blogs about design, aging, and technology at

Affiliations and Expertise

Co-founder and CEO, Wiser Usability, Inc.

Ratings and Reviews

Write a review

Latest reviews

(Total rating for all reviews)

  • Jeff P. Tue May 05 2020

    Designing User Interfaces For An Aging Population

    I am an Environmental Gerontologist. I teach "Design For Aging Populations" at Parsons School of Design in NYC. I adopted and used Johnson and Finn's book as one of three required texts. My students took away a great deal from this book. What made it an effective teaching tool was the "Case-Study" technique introduced in Chapter 2, "Meet Some Older Adults," and then continued throughout the book. My students enjoyed following all 6 of these Seniors in chapter after chapter. These case-studies humanized the material for my students. Thank you, Johnson & Finn