Icons vs text for senior users in User Interface design

September 4, 2012

For users who are more advanced in age, which conveys the features and functions of a user interface better: an icon or text? Ideally a product’s UI will be able to contain both icons and text, but there are instances in which the scarcity of available real estate on any given screen makes choosing one over the other a necessity. User Research has shown seniors may have a harder time reading text – especially the smaller text that tends to be used in UI – but they may also face confusion when trying to interpret the meaning behind icons. For this group of users, an envelope doesn’t necessarily convey “Email” and a file folder doesn’t often mean “Save.”

Finding the most effective balance of icons and text is often one of the keys to developing a successful product for senior users, one that provides a rewarding user experience.

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