Last Sunday we put out a call for readers comments on products that aren’t ‘age friendly” and boy, did you respond.
“This message got to me, but I am not a developer, I wish the packagers and web designers could walk a day in my shoes!”
It seems that I’m not alone in wrestling with the small print on every label in the store, even with readers. One reader made a very compelling point.
“Small print on prescription bottles is a health hazard! Along the same lines are the tiny white generic pills that all look the same.”
And attention, designers of smartphones: we’d like a word with you.
“I’m tired of the constant changes in the iPhone!’
The largest group of respondents said phones have too many changes, taking place too frequently (and often for minimal improvements, to our minds), and requiring a whole new learning curve…until the next one. One reader seems to have put her finger on the problem:
“…my most constant cry is, “Stop changing just for the sake of change!” Many devices are constantly updated with small, secret changes that surprise me and leave me confused. If they are actually an improvement for a significant number of people, that’s fine, but many changes look like designers are just trying to justify their paycheck.”
Older people make up almost half the US population, but we seem to be mostly left out of advertising (see here for more) and almost totally left out in product design, and especially package design, according to a few readers.
“I can’t open a bottles of drinks without a pair of pliers. My kitchen is becoming the hardware department!”
One reader summed up the issue and the solution nicely:
“How about companies making products have an older person on their testing panels?”
Hear hear! (And don’t get us started about the low volume of podcasts and devices!)
We’ll keep the comments open for more of your thoughts, ideas and issues. What would you like product designers, package designers and tech developers to know? Let us know in the comments!
Virge Randall is Senior Planet’s Managing Editor. She is also a freelance culture reporter who seeks out hidden gems and unsung (or undersung) treasures for Straus Newspapers; her blog “Don’t Get Me Started” puts a quirky new spin on Old School New York City. Send your suggestions for Open Threads to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have trouble with pop top lids on cans and with tight jar lids. I’m 64 and consider myself in good shape, but I feel helpless and frustrated–and old!–when I confront these items. I suppose I should invest in some gadgets to assist me. I’ve resisted because of limited storage in my kitchen; at the moment, I call my husband to help; though, he increasingly has trouble, too. Seems to me a pop top on a can should make opening it more convenient not less!
One of my pet peeves is listening to a commentator who has music in the background! Our local NPR station does that with announcements. My impaired ears can’t separate the sounds!
I’m surprised at the things I struggle to open (and close): toilet bowl cleaner “bottles” that require me to squeeze and turn, even opening ziplock bags of cat food without tearing them from the side. I’m like the person with the tools in her kitchen: rubber mallet to smack the knife cutting the squash, pliers to open jars, screw drivers to punch a hole in the bottom of the refritos can to let it slide out, etc. I’m not too bad with small print – yet, but I do have large magnifying glasses downstairs and upstairs. As for the computer, I just pull it from the sides to enlarge the page.
I find it annoying that the AARP magazine has some of the smallest font size around. I mean, really? This is a magazine for the older generation and they can’t even think of us.
Excellent observation. They (AARP) do not figure that ones membership and dues supposedly include the AARP’s ability to see its contents from the reader (older generation) point….of…view. Well, Duh!.
I’m frustrated that so much packaging is not recyclable or biodegradable. I think we should pass laws about this!
Not only is minuscule print on Websites a problem, so is gray print. Let’s have some contrast folks! And speaking of print/writing, how about teaching cursive again in schools. It’s beautiful, quicker than printing to write, and useful for reading important historical documents.
You’re right, Barbara. Unfortunately, here in the US cursive left the curriculum over 50 years ago. It made a return in Ireland and Australia a number of years ago.
My pet peeve is with the varied displays in chain grocery stores. I usually shop at a particular Giant Food store that is close to my home. I know where everything is and am only irritated by the COVID mandated directional arrows that tell me which way to go up and down the aisles! What’s frustrating, however, is occasionally shopping at any of three other close by Giants where products are displayed differently in each one, i.e. , on different aisles and wall spaces . (An item found on aisle 2 in one store might be on aisle 15 in another.). At age 75, I’d just prefer that grocery shopping be no more than a necessary chore and not an unpredictable adventure.
This message got to me, but I am not a developer, I wish the packagers and web designers could walk a day in my shoes!
Cellophane packages are impossible for me to tear open, even from the little notch. Sometimes I can find the scissors.
I also cannot open bottles of drinks without a pair of pliers.
My kitchen is becoming the hardware department.
After many years of experience with ‘working’ corporate tech as an HR VP/Director, I’m tired of the constant changes in the iPhone. Who is being asked what changes they really want???
I actually appreciate the changes. Especially the advances in choices and enhancements in Accessibility. Specifically, the options for hearing impaired.
I hate the caps with the squeeze and open to the arrow option like the one on Pepto Bismol and Lavoris. I find them tough to open and end up leaving them loose once open. Why can’t they make senior friendly easy open products?
How would it hurt any age group to have larger print? How about companies making products have an older person on their testing panels? Only company I ever heard of doing that was OXO. But what gets my goat more than all of that (because most people who really need a magnifier carry one), is why a truly simple flip phone that has been helpful for seniors is discontinued for a newer ‘simple’ flip phone, that is no longer simple at all.
Exactly my complaint. I am having so much trouble with phones anymore.
Slowly but surely the noose of the new era closes around us. Just when learning new things is most difficult, there are so many new things you MUST learn or be dead in the water. Adding to that are the restrictions of Covid and for those of us without any young tech wizard in our lives, we do flounder. I find I try my best to swim in the current current (made a small joke there,) but there are often things that escape my abilities. I will say that if I go in with an attitude of I will try the new requirements to get things done, most of the time I can figure it out. I think even young people realize that personal experiences, whereby a person helps a person, are being eliminated. Robots will do the work now and computers rule. Pandora’s Box is opened. SeniorPlanet.org is a resource I recommend because they are patient with our slower learning curves. Attitude is everything. We can find a way somehow.
Spot On….many thanks!
Pandora’s box should contain a written manual (NOT a computer, digital look-it-up-on something other than an actual book form) for easy to sit back, relax and read the instructions so I can have the object right next to me and in another room. Simple, clear and good height, color and language (not jargon) instructions. Ah, those were the days. I still have a landline phone and a flip-top phone (came with tiny numbers and no instructions!).
Small print on prescription bottles is a health hazard! Along the same lines are the tiny white generic pills that all look the same. Changes in the type of tablet or color and shape each prescription fill of the same medication is another problem. There need to be some standards. HaHa. Yes, I know you can look it up on google by putting shape and imprint from the pill …but who can see it in the first place?
I will start out saying that although I am 70 I am fairly technically knowledgeable. It was great reading this article as I cant read small type and have had to adjust the type size on my devices to accomodate for my demishing eyesight. As for hearing, I thought it was just me until reading this article, thanks for the reassurance that it wasn’t. I am going to reach out to someone who posts videos now and let them know I can’t hear them even when I crank up the volumn.
Wow! I can relate to the volume complaint! I already wear hearing aids, but struggle to hear on my landline (Often can’t get cell service where I live.) and computer videos. I keep searching for a phone with good volume and clarity, but the manufacturers seem to focus on large print. Not all of us with hearing issues have sight issues, and vice versa!
I don’t like to carry reading glasses with me, so if I need to read a label I use the camera on my phone to enlarge the picture. I don’t actually press the shutter.
As for what changes to make, my most constant cry is, “Stop changing just for the sake of change.!” Many devices are constantly updated with small, secret changes that surprise me and leave me confused. If they are actually an improvement for a significant number of people, that’s fine, but many changes look like designers are just trying to justify their paycheck.
Anne, re: enlarging small print, use the “magnifying “feature on your phone. Prolly in the Accessibility menu in Settings.
WHEN I GO INTO CVS, WALGREENS, RITEAID, ECT. – IF I CAN’T READ THE LABEL I ALWAYS GO TO THE DISPLAY HOLDING THE MAGNIFIER EYEGLASSES AND BORROW A PAIR SO I CAN READ THE LABEL , OR INGREDIENTS ON A PRODUCT THAT I AM INTERESTED IN BUYING. I HAVE NOTICED IN SOME STORES THEY HAVE LARGE PAGE LIKE MAGNIFIERS HANGING IN THE AISLE. I THINK IT WAS WALGREENS, NOT 100% SURE
I empathize with the difficulty of reading small print. It’s not only labels I can’t read, my 76 year old impaired eyes can no longer read what they could when I was 65. I have to enlarge the print of Senior Planet’s new smaller, less bold font to read the articles without straining my eyes. I often just don’t bother.
Love podcasts, but some of my favs are recorded at such a low volume that I rarely bother with them.
Also hate the pop up ads, esp. when I am working on my tablet. The latest ones now cover the who screen, as if two thirds was not bad enough!