A usability study of elder adults utilizing social networking sites
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Type of Workapplication/pdf
xxii, 342 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Computer and Information Sciences
RightsCopyright protected, all rights reserved.
There are no restrictions on access to this document. An internet release form signed by the author to display this document online is on file with Towson University Special Collections and Archives.
In order to find out how well current social networking sites serve the elderly especially for the ones with little to no computer experience, a preliminary study involving an accessibility investigation of 19 popular social media sites and a discussion with 8 elder adults in a computer training class was conducted. The result shows various accessibility issues on the popular social media sites and the problems encountered by the elderly. To further investigate how to design a social networking site that is accessible and usable for the elderly, an iterative design approach containing two rounds of usability study was applied. This research consisted of three phases: a baseline usability study collecting the performance data of 22 participants 65 years of age and older completing a set of tasks on a social media site; a redesign of the social media site interface incorporating design guidelines and feedback received during baseline study; and a usability study comparing the performance of the new prototype against the original design. In addition, the impact of the computer experience toward individual's performance on using the social networking site was also investigated. The result of this study shows that the newly designed interface prototype improved the accessibility and usability of the social media site for the elderly. Although the computer experience has association with the actual performance on the social networking sites, the perception of the usability of the site was not significantly different between participants with different level of computer experience. Simple and consistent layout, readable text, limited scrolling, grouped information, and easy access to training are keys to making the site accessible and usable for the elderly. The accessible social networking site has the potential for the elderly to live a more independent life through the access of resources and ideas, the fostering of communication and collaboration, the facilitation of learning and training, and the building of meaningful relationships with friends, families, and people of similar interests.