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Evaluating the Role of Prior Experience in Inclusive Design



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Wilkinson, CR 


This thesis investigates the role of prior experience of products and its affect upon interaction. It has been shown within this work that technological experience of products is related to age, and that this has implications for the success of subsequent interaction. This research adds weight to a growing body of literature that has identified age related and generational differences toward product interaction. Implications for intuitive design such as the use of familiar features and icon design are also identified. The adoption of a novel inclusive design approach, framing interaction using an interactional, behavioural model, is proposed as a potential method to identify issues that cause unnecessary interactional complexity. The effect of prior experience and design upon interaction was investigated by performing three main experimental studies that assessed individuals’ performance with products and identified the problems real users’ experience through inadequate product design. The findings reveal that older participants’ ability to learn and transfer knowledge for successful product interaction may be adversely affected by design. Older users recognised fewer features and iconic warning symbols than younger users, and this appears to place them at a disadvantage in terms of learning and intuitive interaction. Technological experience was found to decrease with age, further compromising older users’ ability to draw accurate inference from products. The contribution of this work is to provide the design community with new knowledge and a greater awareness of the diversity of user needs, and particularly the needs and skills of older people. The hope is that the awareness of this knowledge can, in turn, assist toward the community’s development of better design methods. The approach introduced can be applied to new and existing products alike and can aid the development of products that are more accessible and easier to use for a wider proportion of the population.






User Experience, HCI, Product Design, Ageing, Generational Effects, Interaction Design


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
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