Meet Dr. Michal Halperin Ben Zvi, a UX researcher and Design strategist from Israel. Together with the Israel National Digital Agency and JDC-ESHEL, Michal created a guide to enhance digital literacy for older adults, in the hope to eradicating barriers to digital inclusion. The guide considers factors such as accessibility, usability, and inclusivity, significantly improving the user experience for older adults. This Age Thing spoke to Michal about how he got involved with digital literacy and the impact he hopes this guide will have.
“I wrote The LOG IN Guide on behalf of JDC-ESHEL and The National Digital Agency as part of their dedicated efforts to promote digital inclusion. Recognizing the increasing technology adoption by older adults, ensuring that their digital experiences would be more inclusive has become imperative.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the reliance of older adults on digital services skyrocketed worldwide. In the UK, 54% of people aged 55+ significantly increased their usage of online services, with 17% signing up for new platforms catering to entertainment, socializing, and shopping. Older Americans also emphasized the indispensability of the Internet, with 38% considering it a vital tool.
However, numerous challenges persist, including limited internet connectivity and insufficient technological skills, impeding older adults’ access to digital services. Shockingly, 22 million older Americans still remain offline, and individuals aged 75+ often require assistance with new devices. These obstacles contribute to lower engagement with digital platforms. In Israel, there is a well-documented underutilization of basic digital services by older adults; for example, 55% of them search for information online (among 65+ years old) compared to 77% among younger age groups (20-65 years old) in 2020.
Acknowledging these challenges, The LOG IN Guide was developed to empower designers, UX/UI professionals, and product managers in constructing age-friendly digital platforms. It offers valuable insights and practical recommendations to bridge the digital divide, enabling older adults to actively participate in the digital world.
On a personal note, after completing my Ph.D. in the psychology of aging, I joined the national initiative to promote digital literacy among older adults. As the Head of Research, my goal was to understand how older adults perceive and learn digital platforms and identify the most effective teaching methods. Witnessing countless older users struggling with exclusionary design, I embarked on gathering knowledge to promote a smooth experience for them. I collaborated with leading experts from academia and industry to write The LOG IN Guide. I believe we need a deeper understanding of the older user’s perspective, desires, motivations, and pain points to design more inclusive platforms. By conducting thorough research, implementing guidelines and raising awareness about the benefits of age friendly and inclusive design, we can collaboratively shape a more inclusive digital landscape.
Today, I continue my work to increase older adults’ engagement in digital platforms; I work with healthcare providers, government websites, and B to C companies to help them improve the usability and engagement of their platforms. Join me in using The LOG IN Guide to reshape our approach and ensure that older users are at the forefront of the design process. Let’s empower them to embrace the benefits of digital technology fully.”