Age and experiences – research initiatives and design case studies for living longer

S Ruecker, L Given, B Sadler, A Ruskin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper examines inclusive design delivery through interface design, with a particular focus on access to healthcare resources for seniors. The goal of the project is to increase understanding of how seniors access drug information through two different online, image-based retrieval systems. This empirical study relates to a theoretical issue presented at Include 2003, as ‘The significance of prospect in interfaces to health sites’ by Stan Ruecker and Rosan Chow, which called for further research into the use of browsing strategies in interfaces for seniors accessing health information. Qualitative interviews explore participants’ general health information needs and strategies. Participants (15 men and women aged 65 and older) reflect a diversity of age, background, and level of experience with computers and/or web resources. The interview data provide the context for a series of information retrieval tasks by participants on two drug information databases: the publicly accessible pill information website,, and a prototype interface offering visual similarity-based groupings of pill images. Participants shown a series of three pills are asked to identify and provide information on them using these interfaces. The site provides information in a searchable database of pill images using keywords relating to pill characteristics (ie. ‘small’ and ‘round’) with results provided on separate web pages. In the new prototype all pill images appear on a single screen: the user clusters pills by choosing similarity criteria across dimensions similar to the database search terms (e.g., all white pills or all pills of a certain size). Feedback involves re-organisation of pill images already visible to the user. In verbal analysis, participants give their preferences for navigation in each interface and the results that appear on the screen. By assessing both interfaces, in the context of resources and searching strategies successfully used by participants elsewhere, the results provide a model of ideal search features and functions that best meet seniors’ information retrieval needs.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2005


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