Older adults' motivations, patterns, and improvised strategies of using product manuals

Wang Chin Tsai, Wendy A. Rogers, Chang Franw Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of this study is to explore older adults' perspectives on and usage of product manuals. Seventy Taiwanese older adults were interviewed to discuss their practices and attitudes regarding product manuals for twelve technological products (e.g., microwave oven, digital camera). They also completed a questionnaire about their usage of product manuals. The results revealed that the older participants did indeed use different products and their manuals from the sampled technological products. Their product and manual usage patterns reflect that the older adults would like to spend time using a product and learning about a product from a manual. Nearly all older adults read all or a portion of product manuals when interacting with new products for the first time. Purposes behind reading product manuals included better understanding of the products, recalling forgotten functions, or preventing mistakes. The older adults also improvised various strategies toward product manuals, such as making quick reference cards, marking sections and shorthand formatting, to compensate for the deficiencies of product manuals. Results of this research provide guidance to manual designers or technical writers to better meet older adults' needs and preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Older adults
  • Product manual
  • Strategy
  • Usages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Marketing


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