My thoughts on Vodhrán

The paper “Vodhrán: collaborative design for evolving a physical model and interface into a proto-instrument” was a short but interesting read into what could be explored more in the marriage of music making and interaction design.

The design itself is a box that consists of a touch sensitive plate for interaction, a micro computer for processing, and an AMP for sound production. It was effectively designed to create a new form of interaction for musicians and a new way of making music. It also can work connected to a computer with a special software. The authors write on their experience and the tools/methods they used throughout the building of this device and how it would function.

This type of a new interaction for music making is highly interesting in the field of interaction design in my opinion. Since making music generally has predefined methods and pretty commonplace conceptions it is both really interesting and difficult to experiment with a new form of interaction. This is the reason why I was interested in this paper. Also since this semester I had the chance to experiment with a new type of interaction with my project for this course, I could relate more with the process and findings of this paper. With the increasing amount of music production on computers it is hard to dismiss this topic. Human-computer interaction in this area is already highly saturated, with interaction methods that popped up in the last 2 decades but also with digitalisation of already existing centuries old musical instruments. This progress will only expand with increasing usage of digital devices in this area, hence the need and search for new and different interactions will always persist. I think this paper was the start of this kind of an approach where the authors wanted more out of the interaction and ability to create through creation. As an interaction designer it is crucial to understand and reflect on areas that can feel settled and unchangeable. This paper for me does exactly that and I highly appreciate it for it.

Behavioural Differences (11)

It’s important to note that there are many different types of use cases and usage scenarios when it comes to these interactions. Different backgrounds, different jobs and different cultures effect experiences drastically. A senior who adapted into the digital world due to their involvement with computers because of their work will have a much easier experience compared to a senior who didn’t have any sort of connection it their early ages.

It’s difficult to produce something that can be used by every possible user. Universal design principles dictates that a design should be equitable and accessible by all but it’s already pretty hard to provide for the needs of one single demographic.

Design is much more likely to be the source of exclusion than inclusion. When we design for other people, our own biases and preferences often lead the way. When we create a solution that we, ourselves, can see, touch, understand, or hear, it tends to work well for people with similar circumstances or preferences to us. It also ends up excluding many more people.

(Gilbert, 2019)

According to the personas and user journeys I have created it can be seen that the main focus of the interaction is social media and usage of certain sites to stay connected to the world. Although in the aspect of content consumed by seniors is similar, the way it is consumed and the issues they can run into are vastly different.

There are 4 main points when it comes to these issues:

  • Visual
    • As people age, a number of changes commonly happen to their vision. Many older adults use reading glasses or opt for much larger font sizes when given the option. Shades of blue can also appear faded to seniors, potentially reducing contrast when blue elements are used in a design. Overall, color contrast should be increased in websites and apps that cater to older adults.
    • Text and button sizes should be kept large. Basically, anything that’s meant to be read or clicked should be scaled up. Although the ultimate solution is to make it easy for users to increase or decrease font sizes at will. Sans serif typefaces are often preferred for on-screen readability. And any website or web app should be tested with a screen reader before being made public.
  • Cognitive
    • There are cognitive declines that happen with age for many people. The speed at which seniors process information slows with age. They can still complete the same tasks, but it may take them a bit longer than it did when they were younger.
    • Different types of memory also decline with age, including the ability to remember to do things in the future (this is where app notifications can be really helpful).
  • Mobility
    • Since motor skills tend to decline with age, this makes things like complex gestures more challenging.
    • When designing for older adults, particularly those over the age of 70, keep gestures simple to perform. Forget complex gestures that require more than two fingers (those can be a pain to master regardless of age). Simple horizontal, vertical, or diagonal movement is fine, as these are all natural motions. But avoid incorporating gestures with quick movements, difficult positioning, or multiple gestures that require the use of both hands or more than two fingers. All of these can be frustrating to even tech-savvy older users as motor function declines.
  • Motivation

These issues can define how a senior perceive an interface and how they use it and these factors set the main differences between the population. These 4 elements needs to be considered fully and implemented well enough to accommodate every different need.


Gilbert, R. (2019). Inclusive design for a digital world : designing with accessibility in mind.

Polyuk, S. (2019, June 20). A guide to interface design for older adults. Toptal Design Blog. 

IBM accessibility REQUIREMENTS – IBM Accessibility. (n.d.). 

Phiriyapokanon, T. (2011). Is a big button interface enough for elderly users? 

User Journey Mapping (10)

Customer journey maps are research-based tools which design teams use to reveal typical customer experiences over time and visualize the many dimensions and factors involved. In my case I will be assessing how is a senior citizens journey with an interface.

The map will consist of:

  1. A timescale
  2. Scenarios 
  3. Touchpoints 
  4. Channels 
  5. Thoughts and feelings 

In this section what I wanted to focus on was the social media usage of the senior citizens. It’s one of the highest used mediums when it comes to digital usage amongst elderly. With increasing numbers in isolation and loneliness among seniors, it is a way to communicate and socialize with friends and relatives. The number one reason why older adults use smart devices and internet is keeping in touch and staying relevant through social media.

Social Media Journey

Another important journey would be “staying up to date”. It’s the number two reason why older adults use internet. Reading or watching the news, looking up new recipes or browsing through the web for new hobbies and updates. These activities can be summed up as keeping themselves updated. It is also important in the aspect of inclusion.

Keeping Updated Journey

User Journey (9)

With the interviews and personas in hand it is time to dive deep on user journeys. In this case the journey of senior citizens when it comes to interface interactions.

While younger generations often integrate technology seamlessly into their lives (they’ve grown up using it, so it’s a natural extension of their day-to-day activities), older adults use technology a bit differently.

Applications that aren’t useful are generally neglected by seniors. Even with notifications, if an older adult doesn’t find an application to be useful, they’re likely to ignore it for days, weeks, or even months.

However, if they see the benefits of using an app or website, they’ll be motivated to use it regularly and to respond to notifications. While gamification and similar motivators work well with younger adults, they are often not as effective on seniors. Instead, making sure an app is useful and easy to use is the best way to ensure that the app will be used by them consistently.

Senior citizens tend to prefer tablets to phones because of the difference in screen size and ease of use. According to a research the older adults hold a high share in tablet sales.

Help is a big part of this user journey. Compared to other age groups seniors need much more help with a new interaction when they are learning it or throughout the whole experience. The usage of tutorials or help sections in an interface plays a big role in this case. Also co-usage of an interface is a lot more common. Meaning seniors rely more on their younger relatives or friends when it comes to learning or adapting an interaction.

Meeting a UX/UI design lead (8)

  • UI and graphic designers were designing according to their usage habits because of the lacking UX training.
  • Designers build the website depending on their own age trends.
  • Firms prefers to consider who has the money and who spends it online
  • To learn something new is becoming hard for senior people
  • They are trying to learn the digital world. Although they have learnt social media such as facebook, they do not prefer to use e-commerce websites.
  • They prefer to use social media to keep pace with the changing world that they see on younger family members’ life.
  • Seniors prefer interfaces which do not have shortcuts, in contrast younger user of e-commerce websites prefer more convenient interfaces.
  • The firm’s target group is younger people according to marketing research that is why it does not have any approach for elderly
  • There are many middle-aged people who are using interfaces like elderly
  • One of the reasons why there are no approach for elderly is that the firm chose as a target group people who have the disposable income.

The reason behind the indirect and direct prejudice is that seniors lose trust to outwards because of various reasons. First of all a number of seniors think that there is no trustworthy medium when it comes to services in Turkey. Herein, the former UX chief of an e-commerce website states that the e-commerce based services providers does not have the intention or attempt to build a trust between seniors and Internet-based services. Seniors are not the target consumer for these e-commerce websites and they usually do not use these services, hence service providers do not work on this issue. On the other hand, to protect themselves from possible frauds who can trick seniors easily because of their lack of knowledge seniors choose to not trust and stay away from this digital world. The security of the Internet medium is another barrier for them. Tatnall and Lepa states that the older non-users thinks that the Internet is threatening, so they have concerns about security. 21% of over 65’s have concerns about security compared to 35% all adults (2003) So, this distrut is caused by the outward effects. The people that are not Internet users have the tendency to define this environment as very insecure and not private at all (Olphert & Damond & May, 2005). According to three division of adoption (see Figure 6), late-adopters are the likely to define the meaning of digital incompletely or incorrectly, because of the low usage rates this defining issue ads up to the “unknown threshold”. For seniors who have direct prejudice this unknown threshold is much difficult to overcome when compared to the seniors that wish to learn but have indirect prejudice. Lack of knowledge is the prime reason behind this situation. Those who actively reject use of the internet report a complete lack of interest, therefore it is one of the reasons that accounts for many older adults not using the internet. (Olphert, Damodaran & May, p.3, 2005)


Interview with a UI/UX lead

Tatnall, A., & Lepa, J. (2003, 02). The Internet, e-commerce and older people: An actor-network approach to researching reasons for adoption and use. ​Logistics Information Management, 16(1), 56-63. doi:10.1108/09576050310453741

Olphert, C. W., Damodaran, L., & May, A. J. (2005). Towards digital inclusion – engaging older people in the ‘digital world’.

Persona Creation (7)

For setting up test series, some fictitious persons (personas) are developed, who are to represent the majority of the future actual users. The needs of these fictitious persons will be determined later on and run through the corresponding different user scenarios. Personas will not only help to fulfil the pure software-ergonomic requirements in the design process, but will also help to consider the desired user experience for the target group. 

This preparation will support the research process in figuring out possible solutions and guidelines according to personas’ needs. So far the interviews from last term provided me with a lot of information and basis for this process but also some pain points and needs.

“Understanding and communicating the needs and characteristics of the target users is crucial for the development and success of products and services, especially when designing for older adults constituting a highly heterogeneous target group.” (Buber et al., 2012)


Wöckl, Bernhard & Yildizoglu, Ulcay & Buber, Isabella & Diaz, Belinda & Kruijff, Ernst & Tscheligi, Manfred. (2012). Basic senior personas: a representative design tool covering the spectrum of European older adults. ASSETS’12 – Proceedings of the 14th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility. 25-32. 10.1145/2384916.2384922. 

González de Heredia, Arantxa & Justel, Dani & Iriarte, Ion & Lasa, Ganix. (2017). “Elderpersonas” adapting personas to understand the real needs of elderly people. 

Future of this Research (6)

What can come out of this research is pretty broad. It has been a highly theoretical work mostly focusing on, “what is” and “how is”. The interviews I held and the literature I read gave me viable examples on how accessibility is a necessity if we want to achieve good and inclusive design.
It is important to note that although accessibility elements are mostly focused on people with disabilities, the whole user group benefits from them. Because these methods and guidelines are aimed at making an interface/design more usable and more human centred. So it is safe to say that whatever we as designers do, if we do it “accessible”, everyone benefits.

Hence an interaction method focused specifically on elderly can’t be the main goal here. A universality is the main goal, being inclusive and designing accordingly so that the elderly can use our design, while still being used in the same sense by the rest of the population.

This research can be expanded even more in the goal of exploring more examples and establishing guidelines for designers who work in this area. Similar guidelines already exist and they can be improved in the sense of commonality and applicability. A similar outcome can be found in the article “Elderly in the Digital Era. Theoretical Perspectives on Assistive Technologies”

Another future outcome could be creating a digital interaction method to tackle certain issues faced by the elderly, without losing universality. An example for this can be seen in the article “User interface based on natural interaction design for seniors”.

Another interesting exploration could be comparing the two countries in this matter which I am connected to; Turkey and Austria. How do they compare in their practices and how do their senior population compare? How can these differences and similarities between two countries’ populations can effect a designer’s point of view. Would these populations require totally different interaction methods or could there be one single solution? How does the cultural aspect of everything change this matter?

Usage of Digital Accessibility (5)

There are different laws that are put in place to mandate web accessibility. Accessibility standards across softwares and certain web pages are set. Different governments, universities, industries, etc. have their own methods and ways of accessibility implementation. There’s not a common language that covers all.

Adoption or acceptance of technology? Adoption is more of a process of embracing and experiencing through time while acceptance is just the attitude. Full acceptance brings adoption and full acceptance can only be achieved by full usage ability, hence accessibility.

Benefits of using a technology must outweigh the effort of learning to use it for most elderly this is why usability is so important for user interfaces that seeks inclusion.

The Web Accessibility Directive

Directive (EU) 2016/2102, in force since 22 December 2016, will provide people with disabilities with better access to the websites and mobile apps of public services.[1]

The European Commission states that approximately 10–15% of the population of Europe suffers from some disability, and it acknowledges that “[t]here is a strong correlation between disability and ageing” ( EC, 2014 ).[2]

“Web Accessibility for Older Adults: A Comparative Analysis of Disability Laws”

Some examples for digital accessibility:

  • Screen readers that parse a website for a user with visual impairments
  • Videos on websites are closed-captioned for individuals with hearing impairments
  • Images include “alt text” for individuals with visual impairments
  • Websites must be navigable by keyboard for users who may not be able to operate a mouse (i.e., navigating using the “Tab” on a keyboard)

71% of web users with a disability will simply leave a website that is not accessible, users without disabilities find accessibility features help them navigate your site more effectively. When you maintain an accessible digital presence, all your visitors benefit.



  • Kulkarni, Mukta. “Digital Accessibility: Challenges and Opportunities.” IIMB Management Review 31.1 (2019): 91-98. Web.
  • Vigouroux, Nadine, Campo, Eric, Vella, Frédéric, Caroux, Loïc, Sacher, Mathilde, Istrate, Dan, Lompré, Nicole, Gorce, Philippe, Jacquier-Bret, Julien, Pinède, Nathalie, Serpa, Antonio, and Van Den Bossche, Adrien. “Multimodal Observation Method of Digital Accessibility for Elderly People.” Ingénierie Et Recherche Biomédicale (2020): Ingénierie Et Recherche Biomédicale, 2020-04. Web.
  • Adriano, Adrian. “Digital Accessibility for All.” Design Cost Data 63.3 (2019): 51-52. Web.
  • Ferreira, Simone, Sacramento, Carolina, Da Silva Alves, Aline, Leitão, Carla, Maciel, Denise, Matos, Simone, and Britto, Talita. “Accessibility and Digital Inclusion.” Proceedings of the XVI Brazilian Symposium on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2017): 1-6. Web.
  • Abascal, Julio, Abascal, Julio, Barbosa, Simone D. J, Barbosa, Simone D. J, Nicolle, Colette, Nicolle, Colette, Zaphiris, Panayiotis, and Zaphiris, Panayiotis. “Rethinking Universal Accessibility: A Broader Approach considering the Digital Gap.” Universal Access in the Information Society 15.2 (2016): 179-82. Web.
  • Duplaga, Mariusz. “Digital Divide among People with Disabilities: Analysis of Data from a Nationwide Study for Determinants of Internet Use and Activities Performed Online.” PloS One 12.6 (2017): E0179825. Web.
  • Da Silva, Viviane, Silva De Souza, Ranniéry, Oliveira, Mafalda, and Medeiros, Rafael. “Web Accessibility for Elderly.” Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (2016): 367-68. Web.
  • [1]
  • [2] Y. Tony Yang, LLM, LLCM, ScD, MPH, Brian Chen, JD, PhD, Web Accessibility for Older Adults: A Comparative Analysis of Disability Laws, The Gerontologist, Volume 55, Issue 5, October 2015, Pages 854–864,

Digital Literacy Among Elderly pt. 2 (4)

Interview Answers

Interviewee 1

Aged 67 | Housewife | Married | Lives with her husband in Istanbul

  • She thinks digital is a means of facilitation of life.
  • She has been using digital devices for 6 years.
  • She has a tablet, a smartphone, TVs and a laptop.
  • She has internet connection and she uses it to communicate with relatives, browse social media, learn new stuff and check news.
  • She mostly uses her phone and tablet to connect.
  • She feels adapted to the digital world.
  • She uses visual aids and bigger letters on her tablet, she uses a remote with bigger buttons for her TV.
  • She manages daily works by herself or with her husband. She knows about the services but she doesn’t use them because of trust issues and difficulty of usage.
Interviewee 2 & 3

Aged 68 and 72 | Housewife and Retired Doctor | Married together | Live in Istanbul

  • They think digital is the outcome of fast development of technology.
  • They have been using digital devices for 10 years.
  • They have 2 smartphones, a tablet, a laptop, a desktop and TVs
  • They have internet connection and they use it to browse social media.
  • She uses her tablet and he uses the laptop to connect. Also they both have phones that are connected to Whatsapp.
  • They feel partially adapted because they just use a small part of it.
  • They use visual aids on all their digital devices that they need to read from (phones, laptop, tablet). She has a hearing aid and she needs a bit louder then usual to hear sounds.
  • She manages the daily works by herself. They are aware of the services provided and they order food and buy clothings through them. However they also have difficulty of usage. 
Interviewee 4

Aged 66 | Retired teacher | Married | Lives in Orth an der Donau

  • Digitalisierung ist für mich die rasante Entwicklung neuer Technologien, die meinen Alltag erleichtern, aber auch verändern.
  • Ende der 1990er Jahre erhielt ich mein erstes Handy, meine erste Digitalkamera und der erste Computer hielt Einzug in meiner Familie.
  • Smartphone, Computer, Kamera, Internetradio, Fernseher, digitalgesteuerte Heizung, Navigationssystem im Auto.
  • Ja, ich habe eine Internetverbindung im Haus.  Ich benutze sie, um emails zu schreiben und zu beantworten, um meine Bankgeschäfte zu erledigen, um Recherchen im Internet zu betreiben, um Fotos zu archivieren und zu versenden, um zu telefonieren, um Waren zu bestellen. 
  • Ich verwende einen Stand PC, einen Laptop, ein Smartphone, einen Fernseher und ein Radio.
  • Ich komme im Alltag gut zurecht, solange es sich um Prozesse handelt, die mir schon vertraut sind. Bei Problemen oder Neuerungen hole ich mir gerne Hilfe bei meinen Kindern.
  • Nein.
  • Ich erledige Bankgeschäfte seit vielen Jahren über das Internet und bestelle auch manche Artikel des täglichen Lebens online. Lebensmittel, Kosmetikartikel, Bücher und alles, was in meiner näheren Umgebung in Fachgeschäften erhältlich ist, kaufe ich dort ein.
  • Momentan möchte ich bewusst die meisten Einkäufe nicht in der digitalen Welt tätigen und die bestehende Infrastruktur (vor allem kleinere Fachgeschäfte im Ortskern) stärken. Wenn ich so gesundheitlichen Gründen dazu nicht mehr in der Lage sein sollte, werde ich sicher mehr Einkäufe online erledigen.
  • Ich verwende WhatsApp auf meinem Smartphone, E-banking, Benachrichtigungen mein Heizsystem betreffend.
Interviewee 4

Aged 66 |Retired pharmaceutical worker | Married |Lives in Orth an der Donau

  • Calculation machines using +/-
  • With the first computers during my studies (late 60s/early 70s)
  • Desktop, laptop, smartphone, car navigation, internet radio…
  • Yes – for e-mailing, searching the web, phone (communication)
  • Desktop, laptop, smartphone
  • Slightly (20%) compared to the digital generation
  • No
  • Use internet sometimes for shopping
  • Only aware of few services , use only a few.
  • WhatsApp, Zoom, some other Apps


In many elder households, the main digital device used are TVs but there is a great interest in new devices such as tablets and smartphones which are usually used for social media.

These people do not want to be left out, get isolated. They want to be included in the process of development but they tend to be afraid to use new technologies/devices which is either caused by the warnings from the younger ones in the family or their own experience of not being able to use new tech.

Extensive use of social media can be observed, their main reason to use new digital devices and internet is the massive emergence of social media in our lives.

Elderly people are feeling partially adapted to the digital world and they use digital devices pretty often, although sometimes they have some problems, it can be seen that they have a big place in this digital dominant era and this should affect design accordingly. 

Digital Literacy Among Elderly pt. 1 (3)

To grasp the understanding and usage of “digital” among elderly a research will be conducted. Firstly a secondary research will portray what literature and globally collected data say about this matter. Secondly interviews will be held with senior citizens to understand their point of view. Then these interviews will be supported by the netnography data that is collected from social media. And finally insights on the research will be given.

Secondary Research

When sufficient amount of data collected, the result is that seniors have adjustability, memory and motor related problems when it comes to digital usage. Furthermore, there is an increase in the number of seniors who go online and own smart phones. Which drives the question of how this usage is shaped among elderly. 

40% of older adults do not have basic digital literacy skills, and of those, more than half do not use the internet at all.

Fields, Jessica. “We Are Leaving Older Adults out of the Digital World.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 5 May 2019, 
Comparison of occasional internet usage in Germany
Why seniors use social media?

Interview Questions

  • What does digital mean to you?
  • When did digital get into your life?
  • What can you name in your home which are digital?
  • Do you have internet connection in your home? If so, for what purposes do you use it?
  • What kind of devices do you use to use internet?
  • How adapted do you feel yourself in this digital world?
  • Do you use any assistive solutions while using your digital devices? (accessibility settings like bigger letters or louder audio etc.)
  • How do you manage your daily work? (grocery shopping, banking)
  • Are you aware of the services the digital world offers to deal with these types of works? If so, do you use them?
  • What services do you use?


According to the netnography results majority of the elderly users in social media use it to contact close ones and relatives. They use it as a tool to recall old memories and keep track of birthdays and close ones.