Keyboard for elderly

Make typing faster, more efficient and mistake free

*Concept project*

THE PROBLEM

Current keyboards are more trendy then ergonomic. However, they are exclusive. I decided to design a simple

a keyboard that could be used by elder users and help them with messaging.

I conducted small research that let me understand, that elder user, have problems with typing on their phone. Often they mistype the letters because they have problems with spotting correct letters. This makes them very frustrated. When asked about downsides of her phone, one user didn't even mention about mistyping because she thought it is her fault - because she is old. I think it is not.

MY ROLE

TYPE OF THE PROJECT

Researcher

UX Designer
UI Designer

 

Prototype for Interaction Design Foundation course project

TECHNOLOGY

iOS, resolution minimum iPhone 6/7/8

BREAKING DOWN THE PROCESS 

During this project, I conducted interviews with users and I researched keyboards history, designs, and WCAG 2.0 standards for mobile. Based on this I designed a clickable prototype.

Understanding the user - Interviews

Interviews helped me to understand the problems and issues of my users additionally built the empathy with them.


Building the background - Research

The research was a necessity to gain knowledge about the topic.  Helped in the ideation phase to conceive ideas and solutions.

 

Design

During the design phase, I used the knowledge I gained in previous steps of the project. I could focus on designing useful and modern looking keyboard. After the design, I tasted it and made some changes.

UNDERSTANDING THE USER

I conducted user interviews to understand how elder user use their messaging applications and what is their experience with smartphones keyboards.

My research included 3 users between 62 to 70 years old. Two female and one male. They all use their smartphones on a daily basis. Mostly they use them for communication.

The most interesting insight was, that one user noticed having problems with typing messages - she was often missing correct letters, yet she justified it with her age.

The results of the interviews were portrayed in persona below.

BUILDING THE BACKGROUND

I was influenced by history and types of keyboards,  academic research, tapping anatomy, and nature.

Layout

My background research kept me thinking about changing the whole layout of the keyboard, to come up with a completely new design or use available alternatives. However, I decided to use QWERTY because of two reasons

  1. I had no time, budget and experience to conduct proper academic research.

  2. QWERTY is the most common keyboard, it supports recognition of keys' placement and muscle memory.

 

Academic research

I also took into consideration the layout of the keyboard with chunks of letters under one key. However, the research published paper published by York University showed that is not the most successful solution. For more information check the publication:
"A Study of Variations of Qwerty Soft Keyboards for Mobile Phones"

 

Tapping anatomy

According to Luke Wroblewski, 94% people use the vertical orientation of their mobile phones. 90% of them is using their thumb to navigate on their phone. 
Luke's Wroblewski article: Defining Mobile: 4-5.5 Inches, Portrait & One-Thumb

 

 

This led me to check what is the shape of the tap of the thumb. I have checked thumb's prints in various places of the screen in the area of the keyboard. All prints were in shape of the circle or oval. I also noticed that the direction of the oval changes, depending on how far is the thumb. 

Nature

When I decided to keep the QWERTY layout I focused on the shape of the keys. I find out that the most efficient geometric shape is a hexagon that is often met in nature. The choice of this shape was supported my million years of evolution.

DESIGN

I had a couple of ideas about approaching the topic of the most efficient keyboard.

At first, I thought about chunking key letters into one key in order to make the keys bigger I decided to not do it because that solution would need to "guess" input words and this would make it very confusing and they are never mistake-proof.

After that, I remembered the hexagon is the most efficient geometric shape. That is why I started playing with it

When I decided to stick to hexagons I had to choose the orientation. I had two orientations in mind. The 1. design orientation is more efficient and takes less screen real estate than the 2. option.

In my first design, the keys were tightly close to each other

User test

I tested the design above and I noticed that the letter 'L' is very hard to tap and often is mistapped. Letter 'P' was also difficult to reach. The keys that were the closest to bottom right corner are very hard to reach (for a right-handed person) because they are just too close.

That's why I decided to add some distance between horizontal rows of the keyboard and make bigger "space" section of the keyboard.

Final design

For the final design, I designed 4 option for vertical keyboard and 4 for horizontal. Although only 6% people use the horizontal orientation of the phone, standards of WCAG 2.0 states that design for order population should support landscape orientation of the phone.

Colors & Fonts

I used 3 shades of gray for the background of buttons and two colors for the foreground. The color combination and size of the font guarantee the highest AAA score in the contrast according to WCAG 2.0
I chose the darkest gray as the main background color for keys as it increases readability.
Additionally, the function of the buttons is identified with different colors. It helps distinguishing keys but also helps to learn their position better.
 

#474747
#757575
#E0DFDF
#AAAAAA

The vertical

orientation of the screen

Roboto Bold 20 pt | #FFFFFF

Roboto Bold 20 pt | #AAAAAA

The horizontal orientation of the screen

Roboto Bold 24 pt | #FFFFFF

Roboto Bold 24 pt | #AAAAAA

DESIGN ADVANTAGES OF THE KEYBOARD FOR ELDER USER

A more suitable shape for taping and "fat finger"

Most of the common keyboards have a vertical rectangular shape, that is far away from suitable for a human finger touch area.

The hexagonal shape is responsive to every angle of the touch.

Hexagon is the biggest tap area, therefore, is more "fat finger" friendly

Different shape and color for different function

Besides hexagons that I used for common QWERTY keyboard, I decided to differentiate key shapes. The rectangular shape for bottom keys and custom shape for keys that switch between keyboards.


Different shapes and colors help distinguish keys, their functions and improve readability.

The keys' separators

People with visual disabilities benefit from some characteristics of physical keyboards over touchscreen keyboards.

Keys look more similar to physical keys thanks to separation and color differentiation

Clearer design

I decided to reduce the number of keyboards to the most useful and common used keys to increase readability and increase the chance of memorizing the placement of the keys.

Consumes less space on the screen

The hexagonal keyboard consumes 37 px less screen real estate than traditional with rectangular keys.

Compared within WhatsApp for iPhone 8 and iOS 11

37px.png

TITLE OF THE CALLOUT BLOCK

High contrast and bigger fonts

High contrast (AAA score of WCAG 2.0) and bigger fonts (20 pt and 24 pt) improve readability for people with visual disabilities.

New more ergonomic order of the keys 

"Space" and "backspace" are the most commonly used keys. That is why I decided to place the "backspace" button further from bottom right corner (for right-handed person) and change its place with "return" button

Intuitve icon for emoticons

During my research, I noticed that elder user like sending emoticons. However, with the current design, they are hidden under the not intuitive icon. I decided to use the separate key, that shows only selections of emoticons

Like what you see?

Let's chat.