University of Twente Student Theses


Elderly classification and involvement in the design process: Framework for specification of the elderly within user centred design

Steenstra, Paula (2015) Elderly classification and involvement in the design process: Framework for specification of the elderly within user centred design.

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Abstract:The elderly population (60+) joins a big percentage of the world population and is expected to increase even higher with an increasing life expectancy. Although people stay healthy until an increasing age, the ageing deficiencies will still affect the quality of life, which has to be supported with suitable products to make life more pleasurable. Otherwise longer life only means longer suffering from deficiencies, whereas elderly should stay independent. A product has to address user’s needs and has to fit users’ abilities and characteristics. In order to adapt to those needs a clear understanding is required what will be done by user involvement. The goal of this research is to create an understanding of elderly characteristics their interrelations and influences on the product. Information gathered through desk research provided a clear insight in the goal and origins of user centred design. For being able to make use of user centred design an understanding is created about the different classifications of methods. Due to the growing percentage of elderly with increasing age, the variety within the group of elderly extends. The chronological age based perception of the population group of elderly is biased and should be modified. To avoid presumed perceptions we have made an overview of the existing elderly characteristics. These characteristics have interrelations which influence the functional and motivational needs to products. The role of the product will be to support the users in their biophysical limitations and to suit to their psychological and social state. Elderly value particular attributes to product design in general. The characteristics influence the behaviour to the product and the user’s adoption and acceptation of it, by the perceived usefulness and the perceived ease of use. Furthermore, these characteristics result in certain constraints to the involvement of the elderly user, as they limit him in abilities required for particular UCD methods. These factors result from the user characteristics and lead to an elderly centred approach. The gained knowledge is applied in the practical case of a product problem scenario. The scenario contains the different steps within the analysis phase of product development. It implies the application of user centred design methods to characterize the user and its problems and needs. This includes the determination and empathization of the target group. Next the needs, wants and requirements are derived from user research. Last, there will be searched for opportunity areas, which could lead to starting points for ideation. The framework represents the proceedings for the first stage of product development. It suggests the parallel acquirement of information about elderly and their problems and needs with user centred design. Furthermore, the subsection indicates the variety of characteristics and their interrelations. The users’ needs towards a system are influenced by their own characteristics. Those needs can be functional and motivational and result from the psychological and biophysical state. With this subsection a suggestion is provided to designers for the fields they should look at with defining the elderly user and behaviour. The identification implies a better understanding of the needs to the product what should lead to better addressing of them within the product development. The parallel approach of the framework gives the designer space in the determination of the target group. For further research we would suggest the integrity of the classification as well as the plurality of applicability.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:21 art forms
Programme:Industrial Design BSc (56955)
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