USER INTERFACE APPROACH
Day by day technologies around internet are growing exponentially. Today , for instance is possible to chat with someone in the other part of the world in a customisable interface based in holograms trough hololens by Microsoft (9) or any other activities that used to be attached just for web services .
However, is perceptible the dynamics of the market , conveying to the mobile experiences for almost all people activities . Based on projections by 2017 , tablet and smartphone will lead with 87% of the worldwide market share of sales; defining a new era for developers and designers. New Apps should be focus in variety of user , with wide differences like education background , age , disabilities etc..
In the other hand , designer should be careful with the capabilities of the web site or application in order to reach all kind of users , otherwise could incurs in some legal claims from users , if they could feel discriminated after use the app or site . The Equality Act 2010 (12) promote equality in The United Kingdom covering disabilities , age , sexual inclination , race etc.
Beside the trends of the market and the legal background , there is a massive area to cover in order to implement interfaces for this devices . The user interface (UI) design is the most important to analyse before start programming the logic . The UI has some design steps to follow and will be disclosed above from scratch , from different perspectives technological , psychological and social .
From the beginning the main idea is designing an interface for an application which let older user search , compare and buy items from three different well know brands in the United Kingdom , in this case will be Amazon , EBay and Argos, keeping ethos of each brand due developers should use APIs to connect all the logic behind the app interface.
The final design should be able to reach the user needs (19). The outcome should include concepts understanding the culture and context of the user , identify problem and needs .This user centered technique focus the finding in observation in order to develop a empathetic design or qualitative design according to the behavior and feelings of the consumer in his own environment and practices .
REQUIREMENTS FOR DESIGNING
It is needed to manage the limitations of the design process , this limitation lead the design based on the requirements . different aspect which conclude in different ideas implemented in a final design .
Table 1. System and user requirements .
The target for designing Best Offer is basically elderly people in the UK . Nevertheless , it is not an easy job owing to different characteristics related to the age . Basically the UI will be focus in two main ideas ; first learning process and eye condition ,some of the requirements are based in observation and interviews about the uses of new technology such as tablets and smartphones , connected with some social context and education background .
It is not a secret for anyone the fact that older people take more time to process some information , and even more if is technologic related . So , the interface should be able to let the user minimize the learning process and provide accurate tools which let them recognize rather than recall ; in other words , the design should invite the user to navigate naturally , guide them trough tasks in a easy way , founded in a mental model for buying some items in a real life .
AGE RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION (AMD)
Based on research of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) , the age related macular degeneration is one of the top eye disease in the UK , with more than half a million of people(17) . This decease affects the macula , the part of the retina in the back of the eye , causing troubles with the central vision . This degeneration affects the vision when the person is looking directly to some object (e.g. reading, watching tv ) , it could be blurry vision or it may cause a blank patch in center of the vision(18). Usually is more frequent in elderly people , but also in adults about 40s and 50s .Also women tend to live longer than men ,so there are more records about women affected by this disease .
In general , the App should receive an user input , in order to search an item , display the best result accurate with some detail information , let the user navigate according with their need and let the user buy the item .
The system should be able to browse , search , find detail information of products , navigate inside chosen brand , add item to the basket , delete items of the basket , an purchase items added in the basket in a consistent way. Each requirement will be disclosed in a task analysis .
Table 2 . Functional Requirements
The resources of the app should be focused on the senior user experience (+65), so the priority must be accessibility , make the interface simple as possible , with big operative button. One example of this was the branding name , which was deleted instead of accessibility bar and positioned in top left , the most visible part of the screen (21).
For designing an app is really important to analyse deeper the nature of the users , it is not the same design for children than design for adults ; or design for young adults (30s – 40s) than adult in the 70s .
As mention before , the main target of the app is older people , consequently it will be evaluated two different characters or persona in order to know more about the user behavior .
There are some research (1) that describe elderly people using new technology , such as web sites . Nielsen states elderly population is growing year by year in 16% due rise of life expectation ; in the UK the growth rate people between 65-78 has been increase 9% compared with 1% for people between 35 – 44 as shown in the table 1.
Table 1 . Growth rate comparison(1) Nielsen Jacob .(2013) Seniors as Web Users
In this aging society is perceptible more and more people go online , 35% more business opportunities ; activities such as spending some money online , doing some e-commerce or online transaction with the bank . The expertise of the seniors is denoted by the skills for doing some task , now they can be more accurate and more faster than 10 years ago(1) .
Table 2 . Quantitative testing in seniors (Nielsen Jacob .(2013) Seniors as Web Users)
The research also shows how the impact of the age in three different aspects , vision , dexterity and memory ; the result evidence some skills deterioration compared with young people(1) . Obviously this lack of skills will be affect the interaction between the user and the system .
Table 3 . Senior vs young people (1) Nielsen Jacob .(2013) Seniors as Web Users
There are some Senior behavioral issues to consider , such as 45 % find really uncomfortable to try new things or vacillate exploring . Additionally , there are some predisposition to fail dealing with a given task , usually giving up 30 seconds before other users , blaming their selves for failing (90%).
Gender : Male
Marital status: Married.
Background : Bachelor in business.
Ex police Officer.
Profession : Retired .
Smartphone : Nexus.
Rob is very communicative British person who find technology interesting , he has some knowledge with operative system but still using old desktop style with old fashion monitor. He doesn’t have a tablet but he uses the smartphone for texting and some apps . He always need to put the glasses for use the phone for read messages and navigate trough the apps.He uses apps like shasam in order to know the songs name or news app such as BBC in order to keep updated with the news but love to read the newspaper .
He finds pointless to have a tablet , because he doesn’t see the needs , also is bit daunting and bit stressful to try new pieces of technology .
He complain a lot with some apps , and annoy him if is difficult to navigate or is not clear or big for reading .
Rob is very clever , focused in some online research and asking questions , make models mental structures in order to do some activity ; he is independent , so he prefers find his own path , like DIY , do it yourself . A big example is installing operative systems (WINDOWS XP , 7) , or dealing with antivirus . Sometimes he goes further , he has a raspberry and wish to know how to program it for make some small domotic project but then he gave up because the coding .
Gender : Female
Marital status: Married.
Background : Bachelor in languages.
Post graduate Studies
Profession : Teacher .
Smartphone : HTC.
She finds useful to be updated with the technology due two main factors , first she has grandchildren , it means that she can interact more with them if she know how to use the technology , and second because she works teaching young people , students with 13 to 18 years old , so it is really important to talk at the same level with them .
She has a tablet , usually used for skype calls , playing (candy crush) and Facebook . Sometimes is really stressful deal with new technology or new software for her .However , she mentally inclined to learn and remember how to do it .
Usually for reading or for specific tasks , the use of glasses in needed ; as well she is aware that sometime she learn how to do something but if she did not rehearse, this action will be forgotten .
There is a tendency to gave up to some new stuff if she things is difficult or if she doesn’t have some kind of tutor who explains her step by step how to do it . “It is to complicate for me”, “I don’t understand” ,” I don’t know what to do or I can’t” are some of the phrases she use when she is trying new interfaces .But , if she has someone that guide her , she is really focus on learning and understanding the navigation , sometimes she take notes in order to remember how to make a task .
The Concept of the design is generated adopting the six principles (efficacy , conceptual integrity,grammar , mapping trustworthy and engagement) of user center design by Alan Cupper (22) and the golden rules of Mendel (16) .
Flexible, navigable and forgiving .
Descriptive messages :
Reduce memory , Label in the main searching screen before – after adding item to the basket.
Consistent : After click on buy , the shopping balance change , the screen change to check out . It is logic for user that the next screen will purchase an item based in the information published as expected in our mental model for buying online . Beside this , the system let user go back , or un check items.
ITERATIVE DESIGN MODEL
In order to contribute positively to mental model of the user , the The iCOP application was conceptualized in a self described Brand name : “Best Offer” ,also helped with the icon suggesting a SALE as shown in the main icon figure That will be shown in the ipad desktop .
Fig 1 . Main Icon
The first approach of the App had another name , and very different interface . However, usability and Ipad documentation for developer suggest (13) that apps shouldn’t design as web pages in a different screen size , instead of these, the design should focus in the functionality of the device .
Fig 2. Stages of the design
Is perceptible in Fig 2 , the stages of the design have changed a lot across the design time ; at the beginning was similar to Web site , then it has more accessibility but still has problems for the final user . The last stage of the design improved the user experience , with new features and also avoiding some other items , this changes will be described separately .
User account : The UI is designed for older people , so it should be friendly and omit any information which can stress the user some how , therefore , there is not user screen, or information link about the user information in the main or search screens . Besides this fact , the app don’t ask for registration process .
Background : It was a radial blue gradient in the first place , then after some testing with users, all the comments convey in the color should not be so strong , some other said , they don’t wanted to get deeper due the colors , others state that colors don’t promote to stay just buy something and close as fast as you can .Founded in this idea , the white and grey was the best option , really neutral color to promote users navigate without feeling annoyed .
Accessibility : the design is avoiding small controls and also gives the option to the user to select a different view in the accessibility toolbar (Fig 3) , zoom in , zoom out , standard view , high contrast and bleu contrast .All of them are shown in all the screen , and has big size button thinking in fat finger problem explains by Nielesen (5).
Fig 3. Accesibility tool bar
Excessive Branding : The best offer logo used to be in all the screen of the design , but then the design ask itself for more space and more simplicity , in order to improve the user experience ,that’s why in the final design it was deleted from the search screen.
Rounded Squares : The final design shows rounded corners
Due tablet technology is recently and older people inclusion for this technology are new , there is not too much information related , however , is possible to know which activities older people use to do online; seniors very often use the web in order to consult information about , health , traveling news , hobbies and interact with social networking , finances and shopping online (1). Also is important to define the nature and the context for using a tablet (6), usually there is one tablet per family , it is not a personal device as a mobile phone; beside this, there is tendency to use the device just for entertainment rather than manage money on the apps , people have the unsafe feeling using apps for make transaction so they prefer doing in the mobile or in a web site, also they use it for long trips or holidays .
If the paradigm changes , as expected ,users will use it comfortable , use the app in order to navigate just for passing the time or for searching item with the best price between the brands.
The user task analysis are proposed to be the basis of navigation , (20)there are identified tasks that users should be able to do accurate in order top test the usability of the app.
Users tend to behave based on predictions (3) , and they are influenced by other similar experiences; therefore designers should reduce the gap between the mental model and the system model applying the guidelines provided by Apple(13) and rules for usability (golden rules).
INTERFACE USER FINDINGS
Staring in the base of some limitation in the prototyping process , users still have doubts about where should they go or sometimes could have many goes for find the right position of the click area . Beside this , some user wanted to navigate in the first home screen .
Some users , really like the organization of the screen and find easy the way to buy the item; others have more experience in iPad gestures and try to applied to the design , feeling a bit annoyed without any response .
INTERFACE DESIGN ISSUES
With unlimited screens is possible to improve the navigability for users ; because they has the mental model of navigation every where it seems as a button or link .
When the designer get deeper in the problem , and make some research about it , is become more complex to design an accurate prototype for different users. However , it is really interesting all the concept behind and interface that lead a success or failure of the interaction .
Seniors as Web Users
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