Design
Designing for Different Age Groups
May 08, 2017 Nikola Mihin

Creating User Interface is a process of creating digital interfaces which are easy and intuitive to use, and the user interaction must be as simple and efficient as possible. This is often called user-centric design. User-centric design is based on personas, a model that summarizes a significant portion of people in the real world that have same or similar characteristics and try to achieve similar goals. Jacob Nielsen, a worldly known usability consultant, said "A bad website is like a grumpy salesperson" and "Designers are not users" and this means that I as the designer need to understand the expectations, motivations, and limitations of each age group, to create what is known as a "good design."


When designing for different age groups, goals and motivations can vary quite a bit. Design will always face some issues of generational gap, simply because a good design is always developed for one persona or age group predominantly. Essential anchoring UI elements are different for different age groups and are in correlation with the model of reality each group has developed in their life so far. Simply put if you grow up in the digital era you will have a different perception of digital products than elderly people who grow up before information and social age.

There are obvious differences in behavior between different age groups, while teens enjoy sites that provide interactive features like games and quizzes and tend to be poor readers, young adults like interactivity only when it serves a purpose and supports their current task. Elderly people like to explore, connect and share. Although there are essential upbringing differences between young adults and older adults in essence, for every age, the same truths apply. Everybody wants the same and that is easy interaction, straightforward content and an enjoyable experience.

As we get older physical abilities decline so the design must be well adjusted to them also. At about age 40 the lens of the eye begins to harden, and it makes it increasingly difficult to read text that is small and close. Color vision also declines with age, and we become worse at distinguishing between similar colors. Age group psychology is only one part of the big picture when creating excellent design and user experience.

Excellent design is the combination of basic design principles (alignment, repetition, contrast, proximity, and balance), achieving harmony and invisible interweaving of users and business needs (business needs are equally important as user needs) and deep domain knowledge of different age groups (their motivations, limitations and expectations).

Nikola Mihin
UX / UI, Design