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Title: User modelling for older adults' mobile interaction behaviour : evaluation of user characteristics, task demands and interface design
Authors: Li, Qingchuan
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: Mobile technologies are emerging as promising tools for older adults to retain a higher level of independence, motivation and well-being. Although older adults are aware of the possible benefits of mobile technologies, they still face significant challenges when interacting with mobile technologies due to their declined perceptual, cognitive and motor capabilities. Moreover, the rapidly evolving mobile user interfaces and interaction design present unprecedented challenges for older adults. Nevertheless, current usability evaluation methods for the elderly-friendly mobile technology design are still depending on the general design guidelines, which mainly deal with some visual and haptic related issues. The interaction processes which require more efforts in cognitive processing are less understood. Given that an understanding of the relationships between user capability, interface demands and task contexts is necessary to access the degree of fit between technology design and elderly users, this research focuses on investigating the effects of these variables on older adults' post-adoption usage and perceptions of mobile technology and modelling older adults' mobile interaction behaviour by quantifying these relationships. Qualitative and quantitative methods were utilised in the research. First, semi-structured interviews were employed to understand the general situation of older adults' post-adoption usage and perceptions of mobile technologies, examine the possible factors of user characteristics and technology features that could influence their post-adoption behaviour, and identify the major technology features that caused significant usability problems and difficulties during the process. The findings suggest that older adults' post-adoption use of mobile technologies can be influenced by their age, cognitive capability of perceptual speed and technology features of menu design and functionality. Their post-adoption perceptions were associated with visual perceptions, cognitive capability of spatial ability and technology features of menu design, colour and background, navigation and controls. To focus the research scope, the following studies mainly examined technology features related to mobile navigation behaviour.
Second, usability testing and in-depth interviews were used to investigate whether current mobile user interface design patterns support older adults' navigation behaviour. Activity analysis was applied to detect the possible usability challenges and explore the underlying reasons for these difficulties. From the activity analysis, a list of design guidelines was proposed for elderly-friendly navigation design and two major kinds of mobile navigation behaviour were classified, namely menu-oriented navigation and content-oriented navigation. Accordingly, two experiments were then conducted to quantify the relationships between the influential factors of user characteristics, task demands and interface design for the menu-oriented and content-oriented navigation behaviour respectively. The results emphasise that older adults' menu-oriented navigation behaviour can be predicted by the level of task complexity and user characteristics such as age, education, technology experience and user capabilities in perceptual speed and vision. Older adults' content-oriented navigation was significantly influenced by user capabilities of perceptual speed and task complexity, by the interaction between perceptual speed and navigation design, by the interaction between navigation design, content similarity and task complexity, and by user's technology experience such as duration of use of computers and mobile technologies, and self-efficacy of mobile technologies. It also suggests that a metaphor design may assist older adults' content-oriented navigation behaviour but should be carefully used by considering users' different levels of perceptual speed. Based on the findings, the research develops two user models that address which predictive variables should be modelled and how they should be modelled for older adults' mobile navigation behaviour. To summarise, the research provides deep insights into older adults' post-adoption usage and perceptions of mobile technologies, which can help to refine technology acceptance theories by emphasising a continued process of adoption. By investigating older adults' usability challenges while navigating mobile user interface, the research proposes a list of guidelines for designers by distinguishing two kinds of navigation behaviour to better fit the realistic design scenarios, which can further compensate the lack of usability standards regarding mobile navigation design. In addition, the development of two predictive user models provides a more effective method for comprehensive analytical usability evaluations on mobile interface design for older adults, with a deeper understanding on the relationship between user capability, interface demands and task contexts. They can help designers to estimate the extent of design inclusion and identify possible design features that may hinder older adults' mobile navigation behaviour in very early design stages, which can considerately reduce resource and time costs.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Technology and older people
Mobile computing
Human-computer interaction
User interfaces (Computer systems)
Pages: xvii, 280 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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