Older adults’ use of mobile device: usability challenges while navigating various interfaces

Qingchuan Li, Yan Luximon

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous among older adults, but have also caused unprecedented challenges due to the high demands of interaction techniques and changeable design patterns found across various applications. This paper aims to investigate how older adults navigate with mobile interfaces and identify their potential usability challenges while navigating. To do so, we summarised six state-of-the-art mobile interface design patterns and conducted individual usability test and in-depth interview with 22 older adults. Participants were asked to perform 19 navigation tasks that contain these design patterns under realistic usage scenarios. Follow-up interviews were held to collect their detailed comments on usability issues regarding visual design, ease of understanding, and interaction and navigation of the design patterns, as well as their personal experience. The results found that overall older adults were able to navigate contents more effectively than menus and buttons. Participants experienced great challenges in directing their attention to the menus and buttons, understanding the meaning of icons, and interacting with these menu components. In contrast, the content-oriented navigation design performed better in understanding, navigation, and interaction, which could be a promising direction for elderly-friendly mobile application design. Design implications are further discussed for creating an elderly-friendly mobile interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-861
Number of pages25
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2020


  • activity analysis
  • Mobile design patterns
  • navigation
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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