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An Untapped Market – How To Design Apps For The Elderly And Disabled

Posted In Technology Reviews - By Techtiplib on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013 With No Comments »

Apps in reality have been around for a long time in the form of software that you would buy and install onto a computer – it’s only the name ‘app’ that is relatively recent. But the subtle distinction here that’s worth noting, is that apps make software much more accessible and much more portable. Apps run on your mobile phone, meaning that they’re always in your pocket and that you can easily access them with just a number of swipes and gestures. Anyone can use an app, and they take mere seconds to install.

android market apps

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This is what makes the app market such a goldmine for potential software developers, and it’s why we’ve seen such a rush of apps hit the market.

Apps basically take software then and make it more accessible for a wider audience. So then why do so many app developers focus still on such a small portion of the market?

Niche Markets

Niche Markets

If your app is a computer game that involves running and shooting, or if it is a piece of word processing software for productivity on the go, then you are statistically targeting an audience in their 20s-30s and predominantly male. But seeing as just as many older users are on Android, and just as many women, why not try targeting them instead?

Likewise, why not target a more specific and niche audience that will have a clear need for your apps? That could mean targeting diabetic users, disabled users or those who have difficulties with their sight or hearing. By targeting this audience directly, you will find your app has a much clearer audience making marketing much easier, and you will find that you face less competition in selling it.

Designing With Accessibility in Mind

Designing With Accessibility in Mind

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But if you are going to design an app for an elderly or disabled audience, then you need to approach tit in a different way and you are going to need to make some special considerations with regard to your user interface and general operation. Here are some points to consider in designing for other markets…

Ease of Use:

If you are designing for an audience that is perhaps traditionally less familiar with Smartphone apps, then it’s important to ensure that they are going to be able to use your app without too much difficulty. That means that the interface should be self-explanatory and should use clear and useful information. A common mantra among designers is that a good design for an app/website/etc.. Should ‘communicate, not decorate’. Bear this in mind, and try to ensure that everything in your app is there for a reason and helps to guide the user rather than confuse them.


Similarly, it is important to make sure that your users can easily read what’s on the screen and find the buttons they need for navigation. That means you need to keep all the elements on your page large such that they are easy to find. This is one of the reasons that Apple products are so popular – they utilize large and crisp icons that use skeuomorphisms to communicate their purpose – and their sales speak for themselves. Colors are important here too, and particularly the contrast between your chosen colors.


Having large icons and text will ensure that your users can easily find the buttons they need to trigger the correct interactions. Likewise though, it is also important that your users know when they have hit the right button and see easily what the results of that was. Using sounds and animations is a great way to denote this, and can make your app even more intuitive to use. Narration can also be useful – simply having your app says what the user has chosen.

Identify a Need or Want

Identify a Need or Want

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With these kinds of design sensibilities, your app should be accessible and for a wider audience and help you to appeal to niche users. However, that doesn’t yet mean that anyone will necessarily buy your app: for that you will need to give those users something they either want or need to use. So think about what the older people you know might benefit from or the disabled people in your life, and then ask yourself how you can meet that need with an app.

Author Bio: 

Shruti Vaghe, the author of this article, is a freelance blogger, currently writing for, Freedom Lift Systems, leading dealers of vertical wheelchair lifts for offices. She is a brilliant musician and enjoys performing at the local pub on weekends. You can contact Shruti @ShrutiVaghe. 

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