Guidelines for Creating Senior-Friendly Product Instructions


Although older adults feel generally positive about technologies, many face difficulties when using them and need support during the process. One common form of support is the product instructions that come with devices. Unfortunately, when using them, older adults often feel confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated. In this work, we sought to address the issues that affect older adults’ ability to successfully complete tasks using product instructions. By observing how older adults used the product instructions of various devices and how they made modifications to simplify the use of the instructions, we identified 11 guidelines for creating senior-friendly product instructions. We validated the usability and effectiveness of the guidelines by evaluating how older adults used instruction manuals that were modified to adhere to these guidelines against the originals and those that were modified by interaction design researchers. Results show that, overall, participants had the highest task success rate and lowest task completion time when using guideline-modified user instructions. Participants also perceived these instructions to be the most helpful, the easiest to follow, the most complete, and the most concise among the three. We also compared the guidelines derived from this research to existing documentation guidelines and discussed potential challenges of applying them.

ACM Transactions on Accessible Computing 11, 2, Article 9 (June 2018), 35 pages.