Did you know that technology users are not just for young people and working professionals? Older users like the seniors have also joined the crowd. As we enter the 21nd century, technology has been one of the most essential tools in our lives. No matter the users are people with foreign language barriers, older adults, children, and people with disabilities, technology has been giving us the convenience in communication. “One of the biggest challenges is: how to address the needs and requirements of all those users?” (Cipan, 2010). However, as the technological designers, we have to be sure to create and design these tools to tailor to all users’ needs. A user-centered design method can be helpful.
Language has been one of the challenging tools to communicate, especially when there are more than 6,500 languages in the world. How can we communicate with so many different languages? English is one of the most common languages of all, but not every country speaks English like we do. In the technological world, written language is a way to communicate via websites. Because of the needs of language barriers, web masters have been using languages besides English to help foreign language users to communicate. Besides English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Korean are some of most commonly translated languages on most websites. The accuracy of the translation of the targeted language is significant to avoid misunderstanding. Designers should be aware of the cultural differences when providing the translated version of the targeted language online.
The use of interface and other technology are rather new to many older adult users because they were not exposed to this. Technology was not born when they were younger. It is foreign to them. When we are not familiar with something, it usually takes longer to accept it and adapt it. Same thing happens to these older adult users. Besides the different language barriers, written communication online can be overwhelming to many senior users as well. Visuals such as pictures, diagrams, charts, tables with bullet points, and maps are helpful. So as auditory buttons like the speech functioned button and the pre-recorded buttons would help ease some burdens a well. Interface designers must pay close attention to the length of the recordings as they should be brief and precise.
Kids are our future leaders. Most of them are savvy to the technology that we have nowadays, such as the tablets, laptops, Interactive White Boards, smart phones, iPads, iPods, and other electronic devices. However, just like choosing the appropriate television shows for our children, choosing the proper language to communicate online is also as important. Therefore, interface designers should take into consideration about parenting the use of the Internet, so the children would not be exposed to inappropriate website and languages. Parents can participate on the parenting websites, where designers note and guide parents on how to set up the parenting protection while letting the children explore the World Wide Web worry-free.
There are many assistive tools available on the websites nowadays in assist to users with disabilities. For those who have physical disabilities, the audio tools can help them hear what the websites are trying to communicate. They can also respond back using the recording tool. For those who are blind, they can hear from different recordings with specially customized keyboard reminders to notify them there is a recording available. For those who are deaf, they can read what is on the website and type the response. For learning disabled, designers can provide additional graphics, such as charts, tables, and maps to demonstrate the written passages and descriptions.
“Web usability has focused on ease of learning for the new visitor. While learnability remains important, it is time to also consider expert performance” (Nielsen, 2000). As more and more users have used the technology, the web usability has been concentrated on the beginners more than other users. Designers were more concerned if the novice users can navigate the websites without any trouble. However, this also revealed another issue, that expert users are being neglected. Interface designers should also offer self-help tools for expert users as needed, too. Live chat is a great idea to allow these expert users to quickly ask what they needs and move on to the tasks they have to accomplish.
n conclusion, interface designers have to upgrade themselves as the trend of technology grows. Beginner users do need simple and easy to understand tools to help them communicate and collect data from the Internet. On the other hand, expert users also need some extra push on escalate their level of technology usage. Other users such as children, foreign languages barriers users, and users with disabilities require needs-based tools like the self-help tools on Microsoft Help Tips are great tools to have in hand. Regardless of the type of users, the bottom line is to be sure that everyone can communicate thoroughly and accurately.
- Cipan, V. (25 June 2010). User interfaces for beginners, intermediates or experts? UX Passion. Retrieved from http://www.uxpassion.com/blog/user-interface-design-beginners-intermediates-experts/
- Neilsen, J. 6 February 2000). Novice vs Expert Users. Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/novice-vs-expert-users/