Deriving Design Guidelines to Address Complexity Issues in eCommerce Apps for the Elderly

Kyungjin Chung, Younah Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background eCommerce applications can benefit users in various ways. Many studies have noted that eCommerce can have more importance in the life of elderly people. However, a significant number of elderly people are not taking advantage of eCommerce due to accessibility problems. Though some studies have found that the ‘ complexity of using technology ’ was one of the primary barriers to adapting more advanced technology for elderly users, a relatively small number of related studies have focused on this type of problem. This research reports the results of an observation study that describes different types of complexity that elderly users experience when using eCommerce apps with a smartphone, and proposes a set of domain specific design guidelines that can help minimize these problems. Methods An observation study was conducted on 10 elderly participants to empirically identify complexities in eCommerce. The participants were asked to perform one of the three sets of eCommerce-related tasks under video recording. The ‘think-aloud ’ observation method and three interview sessions were used to understand the participants’ cognitive process. The videos were transcribed into a document describing problems related to complexity, and the related problems were categorized to represent different types of complexity in eCommerce. Based on the findings, a set of design-guidelines was proposed. Results 18 types of complexity were found in five categories. The five categories were ‘Navigation and task process’, ‘Lack of required knowledge’ ‘Identifying contents on screen’, ‘Understanding how to interact with UI elements’, and ‘Error perception and recovery’. 26 design guidelines were proposed in five categories based on the results. Conclusions This study focuses on the complexities that elderly users experience when using eCommerce. Some important complexity issues found in this study can be summarized as follows. First, complicated navigation was one of the main barriers to elderly users. In this study, navigation was understood as a way to start a particular task process and from this perspective, a method to implement easier navigation was suggested. Second, too many interaction elements on a screen confused the participants, which made it hard to decide which one to interact with. Third, difficulties in personalization and the payment process could lead elderly users to quit using the application. The use of simpler alternative passwords or biometric authentication methods was suggested to minimize the complexity in these processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-157
Number of pages21
JournalArchives of Design Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (KIAT) grant funded by the Korea

Publisher Copyright:
© This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http:// creativecommons. org/licenses/bync/3.0/), which permits unrestricted educational and non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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