3 x 7 Usability Testing Guidelines for Older Adults
Paula Alexandra Silva
Rua do Campo Alegre 1021
4169-007 Porto, Portugal
Rua do Campo Alegre 1021
4169-007 Porto, Portugal
There is a large amount of literature on usability tests and
guidelines, giving advice on how to plan, conduct, and anal-
yse usability tests in various contexts. However, when it
comes to usability for elderly people, little is known on how
to prepare and set up such tests. Older adults are a growing
user group for technology, and usability for them is of par-
ticular importance since they often feel handicapped when
interacting with technology developed by young people for
young people. Elder people are a special user group who
have speciﬁc requirements on technology and the interac-
tion with it.
The research presented in this paper is based on work per-
formed in the frame of the European project eCAALYX –
Enhanced Complete Ambient Assisted Living Experiment.
This paper focuses on how the authors conducted usability
tests with older adults. From the experience gathered run-
ning these tests, the authors derived a set of guidelines on
how to run usability tests with and for older adults. These
guidelines are the main contribution of this paper and are
presented in three groups of seven guidelines each. The ﬁrst
group includes guidelines to enhance user drive and control;
the second refers to the test settings and preparation and
the third presents considerations on care, communication
Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.1.2 [User/Machine Systems]: Human factors; Human
information processing; H.5.2 [User Interfaces]: User-centered
design; H.5.m [Miscellaneous]: HCI
Human-Computer Interaction, Usability Testing, Older Adults
Copyright is held by the authors.
MexIHC 2010, November 8, 9 & 10, 2010.
Published by Universidad Politécnica de San Luis Potosí.
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is the discipline that
studies the quality of the interaction between humans and
technology . In that context, the main goal of HCI pro-
fessionals is to create products that are useful, usable and
Regardless of the speciﬁc domain of application, there is
a number of common HCI methodologies, such as User-
Centered Design (UCD)  and Participatory Design (PD)
 which aim is to support and guide the development
of user interfaces. The main diﬀerence between these two
methodologies has to do with the involvement of the end-
users in the process. While PD implies the active involve-
ment of the end-user since the beginning as equal partners of
the design team, UCD pays attention to the users, however
may never require their active involvement . The basic
principles of UCD are : i) analyse the users and task; ii)
design and implement the system iteratively through pro-
totypes of increasing complexity; and iii) evaluate design
choices and prototypes with users.
UCD is well documented when it comes to mainstream users,
however the same cannot be said for children or older adults
. In fact, research involving older adults tends to
focus on age related changes and their potential impact on
user interfaces  with others studies cov-
ering the relation between technology and the older adult
There is also some research on how to drive requirements
elicitation with and for older adults   and work from
Newell et al. on how to use theatre to evaluate very early
prototypes for older adults . Focusing speciﬁcally on
usability evaluation with older adults, there is the work of
Dickinson et al. , which presents methodological and
organisational advice on how to recruit and run usability
tests with older adult users. Nevertheless, studies on how to
design and perform usability evaluation with and for older
adults are scarce and therefore are the focus of this paper.
The work presented in this paper was developed in the scope
of the eCAALYX project (Section 3) and ﬁnd their backdrop
in the work of Dickinson et al. . The main outcome
of this paper, which concern usability testing guidelines on
how to design and perform usability tests with and for older
adults were derived form the experience with the eCCALYX
project only. These guidelines are not only aimed at experi-
enced practitioners. They consist of a tool to aid profession-
als that either are less knowledgeable of this particular type
of audience or are inexperienced with usability testing: for
these, the guidelines presented in this paper consist of quick
start list of recommendations on how to run usability tests
with and for older adults.
The organisation of this paper is as follows: Section 2 brieﬂy
describes the importance of prototyping and usability test-
ing; Section 3 presents the eCAALYX project; Section 4
details our test settings; Section 5 introduces the guidelines
on how to design and perform usability evaluation with and
for older adults – our main contribution; Section 6 reﬂects
on the eﬀects of usability tests in the participants; Section 7
presents the discussion and future work; and Section 8 the
conclusions for this work.
2. PROTOTYPING AND EVALUATING
Usability testing aims at ensuring that a product is easy to
use by its intended audience . It can be performed: i)
later in the product development cycle, to test the validity of
the built system, and/or ii) iteratively, guiding the addition
of features to a system informed by the tests.
Typically, while performing usability tests, users are pre-
sented with a prototype of the system and asked to complete
a set of tasks that the system will perform. Monitoring this
process enables the practitioners to collect rich information
and feedback about the user interfaces and the quality of in-
teraction these provide to the user. The knowledge gathered
during this process is then fed into the product.
Prototypes can be, for example, software or paper-based
. Paper is a medium that makes it particularly easy
to explore the design space and introduce changes in the de-
signs at will . As a result, it reduces the design team’s
commitment with designs and the time spent implementing
early decisions. Paper prototypes also enable design teams
to start usability testing very early in the design process
therefore solving problems before the design is implemented
The focus of this paper is not so much on the usability testing
technique itself, but on some diﬀerences that were detected
when applying this technique with older adults. For more
information on usability testing refer to .
3. ECAALYX PROJECT
The eCAALYX project is part of an eﬀort of the European
Commission’s AAL Joint Program to create a complete so-
lution that improves the quality of life of older adults with
chronic conditions by monitoring their health and by im-
proving the communication with their caretakers. In this
context, the authors of this paper are responsible for design-
ing the user interface of the TV system that will be used by
the older adult. This TV system, placed at older adults’
home, should enable a patient inexperienced with comput-
ers to: i) communicate with caretakers, ii) check health con-
dition and iii) receive reminders for medical appointments
and to take medication. The user interface dialogues de-
veloped for each of these functionalities were the ones that
were evaluated during the usability testing, as described in
The goal of eCAALYX is not only to detect and monitor risk
situations, but also to educate the patient in order to avoid
risk situations. Speciﬁcally, eCAALYX’s addresses problems
caused by six chronic conditions that can impact the older
patient’s health severely. These are: i) cardiovascular dis-
ease (heart-failure), ii) chronic obstructive pulmonary dis-
ease (COPD), iii) diabetes mellitus type 2, iv) arthritis, v)
dementia and vi) chronic wounds.
The eCAALYX project is currently on its ﬁrst of three years
and this paper derives from the knowledge gathered during
the ﬁrst year. Previous work  reports on how the authors
employed User Research and Personas to elicit the TV sys-
tem’s requisites. This paper focuses on how the authors
conducted usability tests with the target users. From the
experience running these tests the authors derived a set of
guidelines on how to run usability tests with and for older
4. RECRUITING USERS AND
PERFORMING USABILITY TESTS
UCD (see Section 1) recommends the evaluation of design
choices and prototypes with end-users. This section de-
scribes how the authors recruited the participants of this
study and how usability tests were designed and carried out.
4.1 Recruiting Users
Recruiting participants is sometimes challenging, especially
if the target audience is very speciﬁc . In such cases,
the system should be tested with users who have similar
age, education, social background and interests to the target
The eCAALYX’s project intends to support a number of
speciﬁc diseases. On the one hand, this variety posed the
authors with a diﬃcult issue, since it is hard to ﬁnd a large
group of test users with all the above-mentioned diseases.
On the other hand, concepts such as the ones related to ar-
terial tension and diabetes, are almost common sense and
can be understood by individuals without chronic condi-
tions. For this reason, the authors opted to work with a
diverse group of older adults.
There was a number of available options concerning where
to recruit user from: i) a health institution (e.g. a hospi-
tal); ii) a senior’s association (e.g. senior’s university); iii)
a nursing home or iv) a day care centre. A hospital would
probably raise ethical and conﬁdentiality issues and the re-
cruiting would probably be done on a one by one basis. The
senior university would give access to older adults that usu-
ally have a higher academic level, a fact that might bias
the study. The nursing home would be a good option, how-
ever their users do not manage their health autonomously as
the project requires. Day care centres are places that wel-
come seniors during the day. These seniors are independent,
maintain their active life and live at their own homes. In this
particular setting, the conﬁdential issues are less noticeable
and the academic level is diverse.
From the options available for recruiting test users, the au-
thors chose the one of the day care centre, since this option
was the one that best ﬁtted the project requirements. The
day care centre selected for this particular project was lo-
cated in Oporto and had 31 daily attendees. The approach
to the centre was enabled by the cooperation of a group of
social education interns from the Paula Frassinetti’s School
of Education (ESEPF). These students were responsible for
planning the activities
for the older adults; usability testing
was included as one of these activities and therefore ESEPF
interns acted as intermediaries between the older adults and
From a group of 31 individuals, ﬁfteen (only one male) agreed
to volunteer for the usability testing. Ages varied from 54
and 92 with the participant’s average age being 79. Older
adults originated from a variety of backgrounds and past
professions (e.g.: craftsman, farmer, housemaid, moderator
of psychometric tests, nurse, nurse assistant, oﬃce worker,
professor, seller, seamstress and sewer of books). From these
participants only two had ever used a computer: one in
his professional life and another during introductory courses
taken at another day care centre.
4.2 Performing Usability Tests
The authors evaluated the complete set of user interfaces di-
alogues that composed the eCAALYX TV system, from the
ones that enabled the user to check their health condition
(see example in Figure 1) to the ones that showed medicine
reminders and established a videoconference with the med-
ical doctor. There was a total of eight tests performed on
a weekly basis. All tests were performed with at least six
participants, except for two situations. On these two oc-
casions either a large number of adults was absent or the
tests took much longer than expected. This number of test
participants follows Nielsen’s advice to divide the test pool
into small groups in order to do iterative testing. This way,
it is possible to solve issues from session to session . It is
worth noting that older adults may be slower than younger
adults  and that their pace should always be respected,
as explained later in Section 5.2.
Figure 2 introduces a brief description of the phases and
procedures a test would generally go through. The authors
were responsible for designing the usability tests, however
they would have a meeting with the social educators before
and after the tests preparation. The initial meeting was par-
ticularly important for cases when the authors needed more
and speciﬁc information about older adults (for example, the
number and medical function of pills to take at lunch). The
meeting after preparing the test was done to inform the so-
cial educators of the prepared test and, if necessary, perform
In this day care centre, older adults chat to each other,
play card games and participate in a variety of activities
such as singing, dancing, exercise and learning new things.
These activities aim for example to amuse them, train their
cognitive functions and improve their lifestyle habits.
There was one test participant who was 54 years old. Al-
though this participant’s age does not belong to the chrono-
logical deﬁnition of older adult (> 60 years), this person’s
mental and cognitive impairments made her illegible for the
day care center and for participating in the usability testing
Figure 1: Usability test in which the participants
were asked to switch to yesterday’s graph of arterial
some minor ﬁnal changes
1 - Presentation of the facilitator
2 - Presentation of the project and objectives of the tests
3 - Evaluation of happiness and fatigue
4 - Core usability testing tasks
5 - Re-evaluation of happiness and fatigue
6 - Questionnaire administration
7 - Explanation of some details of the test
8 - Thank you
Figure 2: Stages of a typical usability test.
Moreover, these meetings allowed for the social educators
to share their experience with the authors ultimately en-
able them to improved their knowledge and understanding
of this particular audience. This might not have had an
immediate impact but turned out valuable for the prepara-
tion of the subsequent tests. A particular example of a test
that required the help and experience of the social educators
was the test concerning the medication reminder dialogue.
The authors asked the social educators how did older adults
referred to a certain medication, if by its name or by its
function. Getting this information was necessary so that
the low-ﬁdelity prototypes were adapted to the way they
remembered the medication.
The method chosen to run the usability tests for this project,
that is number 4 in Figure 2, is found somewhere in between
the wizard-of-oz  and the talk-aloud protocol techniques
. In short, one or two facilitators, depending on the com-
plexity of the tasks being evaluated, asked questions about
the system and simulated the system’s behaviour, functions
and features; users were invited to answer questions and to
simulate the execution tasks in the system as well as to ver-
balise any thoughts or doubts that have occurred to them.
After each test was ﬁnished, a reﬂection was done on the
results and ﬁndings. This usually implied coming back to
theory and discussing the features with the medical partners
of the project. Conclusions were then incorporated in the
designs and/or notes in order to guide the design of forth-
coming user interface dialogues.
5. 3 X 7 USABILITY TESTING
GUIDELINES FOR OLDER ADULTS
This section presents a set of guidelines on how to run us-
ability tests with and for older adults. These guidelines were
derived from the experience the authors gathered during the
design and evaluation of the eCAALYX’s TV system. Also,
whenever possible, the authors looked for evidence for the
proposed guidelines in previous studies. A number of guide-
lines are also valid for younger audiences and can be found in
more general usability testing best practices. However, it is
noteworthy that the guidelines that may have a broader ap-
plication scope gain a much greater importance when work-
ing with this particular audience and thus consisting of spe-
ciﬁc recommendations that should be carefully considered
when working with older adults. For instance, practition-
ers should not ask test participants to move while in a test
situation, however if for a young adult this may cause a sim-
ple inconvenience, for the older adult it may cause a strong
The guidelines here presented are divided in three sub-sections:
i) User Drive and Control, ii) Test Settings and Preparation,
and iii) Care, Communication and Listening. User Drive and
Control guidelines include guidelines that aim to help par-
ticipants during the test by enhancing their sense of control
of the situation and by keeping them motivated to partici-
pate in the tests. Test Settings and Preparation guidelines
concern biophysical aspects of the older adult that should be
kept in mind when preparing the test and its settings. Care,
Communication and Listening guidelines include directions
on how to improve communication and develop an empathic
relationship with the older adults during the test.
5.1 User Drive and Control (UDC)
Usability testing is likely a new situation for the older adult
because of the lack of formal education . The usability
test situation can be confusing for older adults if they do not
know what is going to happen. To avoid such situations of
uncertainty in the test users, it is important to put them in
control, hence strengthening their sense of conﬁdence, dur-
ing the usability test. They should be able to: i) know the
purpose of the work; ii) know what the plan is; iii) choose
to participate; and iv) know at least some details of the test
when it is ﬁnished.
UDC 1: Create social situations that let participants
clarify doubts. Older adults may get tired of the tests and
may not understand their purpose, therefore, it is important
to give them the opportunity to express their feelings and
clear their doubts. With this in mind, the authors partici-
pated in a number of the day care centre activities to give
older adults the opportunity to know the authors and ques-
tion them about their work.
UDC 2: Do not standardise your approach to the el-
ders. Some older adults are likely to suﬀer of some sort of
mental illness others are not and have no cognitive limitation
at all. For this reason each older adult should be treated ac-
cording to her/his mental abilities. Reinforcing this, Active
argues for the older adult to maintain autonomy as
long as possible . Also, if the older adult does not want to
participate his will must be respected. During this project,
one test participant once said wanted to stop collaborating
in the tests. Although he did not explain his reasons, his
will was respected and therefore he did not participate in
the following tests.
UDC 3: Inform the older adult of the goal of the
project beforehand. Before starting the test, the facil-
itator should introduce the project and why he needs the
participant’s help. Older adults may only consent to partic-
ipate if they understands the ’valid’ purpose of the project
The test participant might even understand one’s attitude
as disrespectful. Also, older adults easily forget this infor-
mation, therefore it is crucial to remind them of the goals of
the project to maintain their help.
UDC 4: Explain some of the test details after the
test is ﬁnished. Sharing details on the test older adults
had just participated on will not only help gaining older
adults’ trust but also improve their understanding of the
project. This explanation is likely to maintain their will to
help in the project.
UDC 5: Don’t forget to say thanks. At the end of each
test show older adults a big honest smile and explain them
that their hard work helped you seeing what needs to be
ﬁxed. The value of the information gathered with usability
testing cannot be measured, therefore the act of showing
gratitude should not be forgotten.
UDC 6: Don’t say the word computer on the ﬁrst
approach. When arriving at the day care centre for the
ﬁrst time, the authors were asked what their academic back-
ground was. When informatics was mentioned the answer
was quick: ”I cannot help, I don’t know how to use a com-
puter”or ”I don’t like computers”. The fear of an ’unknown’
artefact was clear. After this episode, the authors started
telling they worked in interaction.
UDC 7: Let them know the plan beforehand. Retire-
ment forces the older adult to re-organize his day . Older
adults usually like to plan their day and routine and will try
to give ’a purpose’ to the time they were used to spend
working during their active lives by ﬁlling it with activities.
Older adults also tend to prefer to follow established rou-
tines and will have problems changing their schedules .
For these reasons, they should be informed and reminded of
the usability tests, so they can include it in their planning.
5.2 Test Settings and Preparation (TSP)
When preparing usability tests for older adults, it is im-
portant to keep in mind physical and cognitive age related
issues. Limitations can impact, for example, the time older
adults take to complete tasks and their ability to move from
Active aging is the process of optimizing opportunities for
health, participation and security in order to enhance quality
of life as people age.
one place to another. This section presents some advice re-
lated to the settings of the test and details that should not
be forgotten when preparing them.
TSP 1: Do not ask them to move. Older adults are
likely to suﬀer from motor impairments that may inﬂuence
their ability to move. Therefore, they should not be forced to
walk, specially long distances. Our ﬁrst usability tests were
conducted in a room that was two minutes away from the
common lounge where the older adults usually stay. Many
older adults were not very comfortable with: i) walking this
distance; ii) going down three steps; and iii) being for around
20 minutes in a slightly cooler room. When the authors
changed to a room that was next to the common lounge,
older adults were suddenly more willing to participate.
TSP 2: Some usability tests can be performed while
in a group. The older adults were usually in the common
lounge participating in activities or talking with each other.
To participate in a test, they had to move not to inﬂuence
the answers of others. Creating group usability tests allowed
for quicker tests and reduced the number of interruptions.
However, this situation was only found valid for tests in
which there was only one question and a limited number of
TSP 3: Isolate what you want to test. The interaction
of the older adult with a system can be aﬀected by physi-
cal, cognitive and ﬁne motor issues simultaneously . By
isolating test variables, it is possible to identify the origin of
problems and therefore enabling their correction. For exam-
ple, to evaluate a user interface that uses a remote control, it
is important to be sure that the user can operate the remote
before testing the user interface. Otherwise, ﬁne motor con-
trol problems can be confused with diﬃculties understanding
the user interface.
TSP 4: Talk to privileged informers. Privileged in-
formers are individuals that due to their profession, role or
current situation have developed a deep understanding of
a certain audience. Social educators and doctors have a
deep understanding of older adults, therefore talking with
them can enlighten some of your doubts and suggest dif-
ferent points of view. Suggestions and advice from these
privileged individuals are often useful to design tests better.
TSP 5: Relate the tests to the participants’ world.
One of the user interfaces’ prototypes consisted of a reminder
to speciﬁcally take stomach medication. Participants with
no stomach problems uttered: ”No, that is not me”and ”No,
I don’t take that”. The diﬃculty in separating the partici-
pant’s owns reality from the reality that is being represented
in the test often resulted in a change of topic and in the main
objective of the task being forgotten. Therefore, it is impor-
tant to plan tests for their reality.
TSP 6: Role-play helps participants performing tests
that do not relate to their reality. Although usability
tests should relate to the participants’ world (TSP 5), it
is not possible to do so in all situations. Sometimes test
participants are not available (see Section 4.1). When the
user interface could not be related to the participants’ world,
role-play was used to pretend they were someone else with
someone else’s chronic condition. Older adults interpreted
role-play as a fun game and enabled them to use interfaces
created for people with diﬀerent diseases.
TSP 7: Keep the test short and make use of breaks.
Older adults get more easily tired than younger adults. To
reduce fatigue, it is important to keep tests short and to
take breaks in between activities. This pauses, can help the
participant relaxing and re-gaining concentration. From our
experience, each test takes about 20 minutes with 7 to 10
minutes of core test activities.
5.3 Care, Communication and Listening (CCL)
Communication is very important during usability testing.
If the older adult cannot understand the facilitator or vice-
versa, a number of important information may be lost. This
section presents clues on how to improve the communica-
tion with older adults and on how to develop an empathic
relationship with them.
CCL 1: Make it clear that they are not being tested.
Older adults were always concerned about their performance
in the usability tests and would often ask how they have
performed. Therefore, it is important to clearly state and
remind them that the goal of the test is not to test them, but
to pinpoint what is right or wrong with the designs being
tested, thus there are no correct or incorrect answers.
CCL 2: Respect the opinions of the test partici-
pants. Older adults are very keen on expressing their opin-
ions and feel that they do have the right to so. For this
reason they may say something the facilitator disagrees with
during the tests. If this happens, the facilitator should not
argue, instead the facilitator should respect the opinion of
the participant, with no further judgment or discrimination,
as advised by the American Psychological Association code
of ethics .
CCL 3: Listen to the patient’s historical narratives.
Health practitioners have demonstrated that listening to the
patient creates an environment of trust and security that
enables the expression of feelings . In the usability tests,
hearing stories unrelated to the test was common. Although
these moments did not contribute to the test itself, they
contributed to the well-being of that person and revealed
important details about them that were useful to the project
later. For example, the agenda designed for eCAALYX was
inspired by the way one of the participants organized his
medical appointments into a stack of papers.
CCL 4: Use simple language. Although the older adults
group is very diverse in terms of academic education level,
the percentage of users with a little or no formal education
is high . In addition, perception and cognition may also
pose problems to speech comprehension. For this reason,
the language used to communicate with older adults should
be as simple as possible.
CCL 5: Adjust your volume appropriately and re-
peat and paraphrase if necessary. Communicating with
older adults may involve sensory limitations . However,
not all participants will have hearing problems. Therefore,
the facilitator should adapt the voice volume to the listener
not being too soft nor too loud . Hearing impairments
may hinder the older adult’s ability to understand speech
. Therefore, the facilitator should repeat or rephrase his
sentences if he feels that the participant did not understand
him . Also, when talking, it is important to give at-
tention to the face of the participant, because the elder may
be uncomfortable saying they did not understand .
CCL 6: Give test participants’ time to think. Older
adults will probably need more time than younger adults to
complete tasks . Plan tests with this premise in mind
and don’t interrupt their line of thought. This can also be
improved by reducing background noise.
CCL 7: Do not use elderspeak. Do not use elderspeak.
Elderspeak is similar to the way adults talk to very young
children . It is usually characterized by: i) exaggerat-
ing the pronunciation of words; ii) reducing complexity of
sentences; iii) speaking very slowly; iv) using limited vo-
cabulary; v) using terms like ’dear’ and ’sweetie’; and vi)
repeating or rephrasing what the other said. Although it is
meant to help, elderspeak transmits the idea that the elder
is no longer considered an equal hence his wills and opinions
are not relevant . In order to avoid this, elderspeak
should not be used.
6. THE IMPACT OF USABILITY TESTING
ON OLDER ADULTS’ HAPPINESS AND
To understand the eﬀects of usability tests on older adults,
the authors performed a very simple test to assess older
adults’ self-sense of happiness and of fatigue before and af-
ter each usability test. The test consisted of presenting two
scales of images (Figure 3) to the older adult in the beginning
and at the end of the test. From these images participants
were asked to choose the image that resembled their feelings
the best. Results shown that, at the end of the test, par-
ticipants were on average happier (Table 1) and less tired
While the fatigue average image chosen in the beginning was
the second from left, at the end it was the third. Happiness
was initially situated at the third smile, at the end of the
test it would be at the second face.
Figure 3: Image scales used to evaluate happiness
 and fatigue.
The results gathered with these tests lack scientiﬁc valid-
ity and are insuﬃcient but they still triggered the authors’
Table 1: Average Results per Test on Happiness
Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5
S E S E S E S E S E
2.7 - 3 2 3 1.5 2.8 3 3.6 3
Table 2: Average Results per Test on Fatigue Eval-
Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5
S E S E S E S E S E
2.5 - 2.3 3 2.7 3.1 1.7 1.8 2 2.8
interest into their determinants and consequences. Emotion-
related aspects seem to be important in usability tests with
older adults. This subject should be covered in another pa-
per from the authors.
7. DISCUSSION AND FUTURE WORK
This paper presents a set of guidelines on how to design
and perform usability tests with and for older adults. These
guidelines build upon the authors’ experience while conduct-
ing usability testing for the eCAALYX TV system and are
the result of a critical reﬂection on that process. The us-
ability testing guidelines for older adults were organised in
three groups: User Drive and Control, Test Settings and
Preparation and Care, Communication and Listening.
If on the one hand one may question the robustness of the
guidelines this paper presents since they are based on the
experience with one project only, on the other hand, the au-
thors believe they consist of a valid starting point that was
developed over a period of 13 weeks of careful observation.
Also, the positive eﬀect of the tests in older adults’ hap-
piness and fatigue also encourages the authors towards the
belief that following the guidelines presented in this paper
is the right path to follow. However in the future, in order
to validate this belief, the authors would like to run sound
experiments in which the eﬀect of the applications of these
guidelines could be carefully studied.
The authors are also aware of the fact that some of these
guidelines signiﬁcantly depend on the facilitator that is run-
ning the usability tests. The skills of a good facilitator are
not easy to deﬁne and therefore are hard to teach, however
a good direction would be to try to create an emphatic rela-
tionship with the test participants and to avoid stereotyping
8. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
In general, the same ’good practices’ valid for usability test-
ing with mainstream users also apply to usability testing
with older adults, the diﬀerence lies in the fact that those
guidelines gain a greater relevance when it comes to the
older adults, as explained in Section 5. Adapting the test-
ing situation for older adults essentially means to tailor the
environment to their characteristics, objectives and experi-
ence with computers.
The guidelines identiﬁed during this particular project will
guide the authors in future projects for older adults. These
guidelines are likely to be iterated and subsequently im-
proved as the authors approach and get involved in diﬀerent
projects. From the authors’ experience in this project, a
clear impression emerges: that usability testing can beneﬁt
a more emotional and humane approach.
We would like to thank the social educators from Escola Su-
perior de Educa¸c˜ao Paula Frassinetti for their help during
the tests and for sharing their experience with older adults.
The authors are also grateful to the European Commission
under the AAL Joint Programme for funding the project
eCAALYX, the context in which we developed the work pre-
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