Summary: Instant messaging, older adults and interface metaphor. S. Prior, (supervisors: J.L. Arnott and
A. Dickinson), ACM Student Research Competition (SRC) Grand Finals, CA, USA, June 2009.
Instant Messaging, Older Adults and Interface Metaphor
Supervisors: John Arnott and Anna Dickinson
School of Computing, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, United Kingdom.
The ACM Student Research Competition 2009 Grand Finals
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), USA, June 2009.
Abstract: An investigation has been conducted into the use of Instant Messaging (IM) by older
computer novices, comparing different visual metaphors in the user interface. The objective was
to try to create a more usable and acceptable instant messaging solution for older adults, amongst
whom instant messaging is not currently widely adopted. Two user interfaces, a traditional one
and an experimental alternative based on a café scene, were designed for the study. These were
compared in use by older computer novices through measurement and participant interview.
Outcomes indicated that the alternative metaphor interface performed better overall than the
traditional one and that the majority of the participants would prefer the alternative metaphor for
Keywords: Older adults, older people, instant messaging, interface metaphor, user interfaces,
accessibility, usability, inclusive design.