Simplify graphical design and presentation of information to make transportation apps more accessible and user-friendly to older travelers.
By focusing on a straightforward, intuitive user experience, apps can be made more appealing and easy-to-use to all users.
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Increasing mobility for older travellers through engagement with technology


The number of older people is set to increase across the developed world, making issues of mobility and transportation more relevant than ever. This is occurring in tandem with the emergence of new transportation technologies and business models, which have the potential of delivering significant benefits. However, if such products are inaccessible or overly complex, it is possible that they could be rejected by precisely the populations that would benefit from them. There are a number of key considerations and best practices for encouraging adoption of technology by older users that should be understood and adopted by those seeking to design or implement such transportation solutions.

Researchers from Newcastle University, funded by the United Kingdom's Department for Transport, interviewed 32 older people and 4 subject-matter experts to understand the challenges facing the creation and adoption of accessible transportation applications. A thematic analysis and summary was performed to understand key underlying areas of focus and to inform the creation of some best practices.

Lessons Learned

  • Make technology easy and intuitive to use. One key component of this is in allowing undesired functionality to be easily disregarded--for instance, by moving advanced app settings to a menu or by not forcing mandatory updates that would change the user interface. Complex or "over-functional" elements should be masked, and the graphical interface should ideally display relevant information with few or no distractions. The approach to this topic is naturally multidisciplinary, for instance including considerations from the field of ergonomics. The nature, amount, reliability, presentation, and personalization of travel information must be developed and easily available on tablets. Poorly or inaccurately displayed information can be problematic for travelers, particularly for older travelers who may not travel or use transportation apps frequently. It is possible that big data can provide key insights as to best practices in this area.
  • Recognize and address issues of security and trust. These concerns are not specific to transportation technologies, nor are necessarily age-related issues, but they represent a significant barrier to use for notable portions of the userbase. In order for greater numbers of older travelers to engage with a technology, its developers must note such challenges and deliberately work to overcome them.
  • Adopt User-Centered and Inclusive Design (UCID). UCID, a design ethos that is based on an explicit understanding of users, tasks, and environments and that involves users throughout an iterative design process, should be fostered wherever possible. This requires stakeholder engagement between end users, designers, and engineers. The use of focus groups or other types of outreach would allow application developers to more accurately understand specific design choices that would most effectively benefit their target audiences.
  • Encourage motion towards individualized travel solutions. New technologies and transportation business models--such as Automated Vehicles, shared mobility hubs, and the Mobility as a Service and Mobility On Demand frameworks--allow travelers to access and use transportation services flexibly and effectively. This is particularly relevant for older travelers, who would especially benefit from being able to select from a variety of accessible transportation options.

Increasing mobility for older travellers through engagement with technology

Increasing mobility for older travellers through engagement with technology
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Harvey, J.; W. Guo; and S. Edwards
Transportation Research Part F

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System Engineering Elements

Focus Areas Taxonomy: