Tag Archive - design

3 tips for designing user experiences for the elderly

From my own research on end-of-life decision-making, as well as working with my design students for the elderly population in Singapore, I have come up with three insights:

1. Talk, talk, talk – Build relationships with the elderly. Consulting with users is the gold-standard of user-centred design, and it is nothing new, but I continue to see designers designing for target groups they don’t understand. Designers tend to design for themselves, and they get away with it most of the time because the technology-consuming audience IS mostly in the same age group. With the elderly, however, failing to understand their unique circumstances can leave a project dead in the water.

Anecdotally, most developers I have met are in the 25- to 35-year-old range. If we define the elderly as anyone over 65, then we are talking about a minimum 30-year age gap, often more. In most of Asia, the past 30 years was a time of rapid developmental change, from villages to cities, from black and white TVs to YouTube. Jargon has changed and horizons have been expanded.

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A tale of two cities

The global phenomenon of what some are calling a “silver tsunami” – a population boom of an elderly generation aged 65 and above – is beginning to appear in most of the developed countries’ demography, no less in Singapore. To meet our changing demographic demands, our physical and social infrastructures have to be developed to meet the needs of the coming generation of elderly and create an all-inclusive society.

Understanding the need for a socially-sustainable design model, CPG Healthcare (which is based in Singapore and specialises in designing and delivering creative, innovative and sustainable healthcare buildings in Asia) initiated an architectural practice-based research study in a three-part series, comparing the two similar Asian cities of Hong Kong and Singapore, to develop a sustainable design approach for the coming generation of seniors. This article will touch on Part 1 – the learning from Hong Kong, while subsequent articles will delve into Singapore and what was learned from looking at the two cities:

 

Part 1: Learning from Hong Kong

Being a globalised Asian society, Hong Kong’s societal context bears much resemblance to that of Singapore. Currently, Hong Kong’s elderly comprises 14 percent of their overall population, accounting for 996,000 people out of a total population size of seven million, according to statistics. This is ahead of Singapore’s elderly population that stands at 12 percent currently, or 600,000 people out of a population of five million. Continue Reading…