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Designing to assist older adults’ navigation in e-commerce websites

Osman, R. (2019) Designing to assist older adults’ navigation in e-commerce websites. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00085429


The growth of the older population has drawn attention and interest in investigating approaches to help older people to live independently for longer, including the use of Web technology. For example, with online shopping, older consumers will no longer need to carry heavy shopping loads as the goods purchased can be delivered to the house. However, the usage of online shopping among older adults is still low. Furthermore, it has been reported that older adults often experience disorientation while navigating websites. This low usage of online shopping and also disorientation motivates this research. To gain a better understanding on how older adults navigate on e-commerce website and challenges experienced, an observation on older adults’ navigation with an online grocery shopping site was conducted. The study found that technological experience was helpful in easing web navigation. Inexperienced participants were found to face more difficulties while navigating the website than the experienced users, and main difficulties included identifying the ‘add to cart’ button, finding items in menu lists, finding the main menu, and changing the website’s default shopping settings. The difficulties were manifested as complex navigation paths and long task completion times. As difficulty in identifying the ‘add to cart’ button was observed frequently, ‘add to cart’ buttons were investigated further. An evaluation of the ‘add to cart’ button designs conventions on 51 websites was conducted to assess existing button designs against design guidelines for older users. This review highlighted the potential areas for improvement with regard to design for the older users, including the use of colour, focus indicators, contrast ratio and font size. A co-design study was conducted to understand how older users would design e-commerce web pages. Several objects were selected frequently by the older adults for inclusion in the e-commerce websites, that is, product images, price, and an ‘add to cart’ button. Some other objects were selected for inclusion depending on what type of website it was. For example, quantity selection was selected for cheap, multiple purchase items (e.g. groceries), whereas descriptions, reviews and shipping/return information was deemed important to the older adults for expensive, single-item purchases (e.g. assistive technology). The study also investigated older adults’ designs in terms of physical placement of the ‘add to cart’ button, and their designs, the button was most often placed close to the quantity selection and/or the price. The outcomes from these three studies provided design input for the prototype developed in the fourth study. In this fourth study, a ‘senior friendly’ and a ‘senior unfriendly’ design were compared. The two websites were developed and tested with two tasks, that is, a navigation task and shopping. Participants compared the two websites and answered questions pertaining to ease of performing the tasks. This study provides empirical evidence of the benefits on the users’ performance from the use of ‘senior-friendly’ design. The outcomes of this research have contributed to the existing knowledge of what designs could help older users’ navigation. The data provide support for new recommendations that an object that is important and frequently accessed (e.g. main menu) should always be visible to users rather than disappearing when scrolling down the page or appearing only when the cursor is in a particular position, and ‘buy boxes’ on e-commerce websites should be included in order to make important objects such as ‘add to cart’ buttons stand out.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Hwang, F.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Biological Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:85429


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