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What's News: Helping Seniors Helps Everybody

By Tema Frank

People in their mid-40s and younger sometimes get fed up with hearing about the "baby boomers" (the wave of people born in the period after World War II up until the early 1960s). It seems that their whole lives theyíve heard about how the baby boomers shook up the world, started new trends, and are the most important demographic to marketers.

Now the post-boomers are finally starting to benefit from some of that boomer-focused mentality. With the aging of the baby boomers, product developers are starting to realize that thereís money to be made by making products more user-friendly to older people. And often, that increased user-friendliness helps everyone.

A few examples:

Sometimes product designs go where least expected: the Honda Element was originally targeted at young, hip drivers, who, Honda thought, might be wearing ski gloves while driving to or from the mountains. So it had large knobs on the instrument panel that would be easy to manipulate, even in bulky gloves. It turns out that older folks were attracted to it too: the large knobs make life easier for people with arthritis.

Fundamentally, humans are all designed in a similar way, so products that make life easier for one group are likely to help others too.

 

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This article was originally printed in User Experience Magazine, Volume #, Issue #, 200#.
http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org/upa_publications/past_issues/200#-#.html.

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