back to article Is tech the preserve of the young able-bodied? Let's talk over a fine dinner and claret

As your body staggers down the winding road to death, user interfaces that require fighter pilot-grade eyesight, the dexterity of a neurosurgeon, and the mental agility of Derren Brown, are going to screw with you at some point. Don't kid yourself otherwise – disability, in one form or another, can strike at any moment. Given …


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  1. Pete 2

    You can sell anything to the young

    > Nobody makes things that bad by accident, surely

    They don't (it takes years of practice). However, if you make something truly bad, then you can still rely on the young, callow and stupid (meant in the nicest possible way, of course: let's call it trusting, open-minded and willing instead) to queue for hours to buy it. Provided of course you pitch it as being the latest thing that all their friends will have. Be the first on your street ... etc. etc.

    For oldies however, it's a much harder sell. They (we?) tend to ask difficult questions, such as "yes, but what does it actually do?", or (case in point the up-coming Ubuntu LTS release) "but what will I be able to do with it, that I can't do with the old one?". There's also the not insignificant point that after some years, one tends to have all the stuff, clothes, gadgets and media that's useful, decorative or beneficial, already. After that it's more a case of just replacing worn out or broken stuff.

    People with life-experience tend to be a lot more skeptical about novelty. Maybe it's a once bitten thing. Maybe it's a case of the money I have, I've had to work for (rather than being given an allowance, that just drops into my pocket), so I'm more cautious about what I spend it on. Whatever the reason, it's difficult for a wet-behind-the-ears sales person to sell to someone who can ask relevant questions, often based on experience, than it is to someone who just thinks "ooooh, shiney".

    What that means is that all the marketing mulah will go on persuading the persuadable to spend their cash in one direction, or another. And not on the lost cause of enticing those who carefully read reviews, weigh up the pros and cons and then go off, in search of the best deal. What use is a full-page glossy ad, or 60 seconds of Superbowl publicity to those people?

    1. Peppone

      Re: You can sell anything to the young

      Re rubbish sites well if your a large multinational and you seem to only hire developers in the lower 2 quartiles its quite easily done.

      And re LTS let hope they put back the vital for any serious use bits of x windows bitd that the pfy removed it some fit off insanity why yes I would like to be able to remote into all of my fucking hadoop servers using x windows so why did you remove the key bit of functionality from a LTS you fucking morons – I hope those responsible have been kicked out of the ubuntu community. Re rubish sites well if your a large mutinational and you seem to only haire in the lower 2 quartiles its quite esialy

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: You can sell anything to the young

        Re: Rubbish web sites

        I suspect that many will have forgotten the really rubbish websites that the bright young things were putting up in the late 1990's - yes some were really cool, however many were only loadable if you were attached to the same LAN (ie. had a 100mbps connection) - something that wasn't easy when most users had 28.8kbps dial-up...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What have you got against Tesco's website?

    I happened to try out a few of their close competitors recently, and went scurrying back - Tesco's Finest, I decided. What have I missed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What have you got against Tesco's website?

      How about (to use a US term) getting out of your Mom's basement and doing the shopping yourself? No website needed.

      Have you actually seen the way your order is fulfilled in the shop? You might change your mind if you had.

      Mind you, if my local Tesco's is anything to go buy it is a place to avoid like the plague after 08:30 in the morning. After that time it becomes a meeting place for the local chapter of Mum's Net complete with out of control little darlings called Tiffany, Kylie, Saffron, Tulip, Peace (I kid you not) etc.

      Yours, a grumpy old man who prefers to shop when 'little brats' aren't nipping at my ankles.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        "For the older olds, the retina display is already here."

        Have you actually seen the way your order is fulfilled in the shop? You might change your mind if you had.

        Tell us more, good sir.

  3. John Miles

    RE: Nobody makes things that bad by accident, surely?

    I think a lot of these people must have had a really good course on UI design & usability - you can't miss that badly without know what you are trying to avoid

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: RE: Nobody makes things that bad by accident, surely?

      Like Les Dawson playing the piano you mean?

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: RE: Nobody makes things that bad by accident, surely?

        Oooh, that brings back memories of my childhood! :-O

  4. taxman

    Open bar you say?!

    Somewhere to go after Infosec then.

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Much as I would like a chin-wag over claret, even with the chinless, or those endowed with more chins than strictly necessary for the support of a face (doffs hat to Leslie Charteris for the latter phrase), I am afraid I wont be able to hop over the Channel for that.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      What's wrong with Jabba the Hutt refusing to adhere to the "mobile computing" craze?

  6. John Sturdy

    Now cancelled, it seems

    The page pointed to now says:

    Unfortunately the April dinner with John Lamb on Digital Enablement of the disabled had to be cancelled. The RTC Club Committee sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.

  7. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    As someone with very poor eyesight, tell me about it. My favourite website examples are an engineering company who had mid brown writing on a brown background on their website. Cheers for that guys! You get that in catalogues and marketing bumf a lot as well. And a US band who had a landing page to their website which was a very nice picture of a tree, with many leaves. I should have just changed the url, but I wasn't going to let it defeat me! In the end I literally ran the mouse from right to left over the screen like in old 90s point and click puzzles, until the pointer turned into a hand. Then I realised that this one leaf, out of hundreds, was gently moving from side to side. Obvious really! Why didn't I see it immediately! Oh yes, because it was an identical leaf in a picture of many such, that was wobbling by about 2mm - and I've got about 5% vision. That's probably it...

    Also, if you're designing a line graph and have a red line, next to a dark green one, next to a brown one, I've got a nice present waiting for you in my office. It's s baseball bat. Just look over there, while I get it...

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


      That's what happens when smart-arse visual designers are let loose on the web - form triumphs over functionality. This one sounds like a candidate for

  8. Daedalus Silver badge

    What happened to contrast?

    Even the most sharp eyed have to find grey text on a white background hard to read. And don't get me started on light blue text.

    Oops, here's the Reg using grey text...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: What happened to contrast?

      Bloody Vista did that. And then other program developers seemed to follow Microsoft's design guidelines over the cliff as well.

      Thanks for that vaguely grey but really just off white menu bar you've given me on a white page. Oh yes, I can see that perfectly. Sure. Because UI clarity is so boring, when I know you spend all that time pleasuring yourself over minimalism at art college. OK, well done you. Now bugger off!

      One thing in Windows 8's favour (and Win Pho too) is that with one button click I can have black backgrounds with orange for menu bars. Nice bit of contrast, for no effort. What's that you say? It's not elegant? Doesn't meet your delicate aesthetic requirements? There there. Don't worry your pretty little head about it then. You go back to the Tate Modern website, while I get some engineering done. Then we'll both be happy - and I can spend my time making sure your buildings don't run out of water. Or poison it...

      Hmm, that gives me an idea. Royal college of art? Would you like a free building design consultation? Have you heard about the new rules on Legionella compliance? What's that, you don't have Legionella in your system? Do you want some?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: What happened to contrast?

        Have you heard about the new rules on Legionella compliance?

        I don't have that font, where can I download? Thx.

        1. Irony Deficient

          Re: What happened to contrast?

          Destroy All Monsters, given the TLD, surely you’d meant fount?

  9. magickmark

    What the...

    I ran across to the clubs webpage (Ok, ok, clicked across!!) all eager to engage in the future or webpage interaction, user friendliness, accessibility and technology only to be confronted by ...

    Unfortunately the April dinner with John Lamb on Digital Enablement of the disabled had to be cancelled. The RTC Club Committee sincerely apologises for the inconvenience.

    Is that someone telling us to F*ck off or what!!

  10. Nick Kew

    Where was this clown in the 1990s?

    ... when the web deezyners first started going out of their way to make things difficult, and really screwed everything up in "dot com" frenzy?

    And what has he got against Google and Tesco, both of whom were among the few to buck the idiot-deezyner trend of the early days, and offer functional and accessible websites? In Google's case, that's exactly what distinguished them from a bunch of long-forgotten wannabes and also-rans.

    Things have improved a lot since then. Which is just as well for those of us who are by now old farts with sharply-declining physical abilities. That didn't happen because someone whinged over a dinner, it happened because people did something positive. Oh, and because there was a shakeout when most of the worst offenders "dot com" crashed. And because the law gave us accessibility and took action against offenders - even someone as big as IBM and the Sydney Olympics weren't immune. And because pressure groups have been pointing out the importance of accessibility, and bringing it to the attention of decision-makers.

  11. Sandra Greer

    Tech Artistes from Hell

    My vision isn't all that bad, but I can't read anything on a black background and just barely on a red background. I generally don't even try to read anything on a variegated background either; there was a fad about 15 years ago for printing (paper publications) black (or white) text over pictures, which I found unreadable, and this continues to be a fad on the computer. Light blue text (and grey text) I just skip. I dearly love Skeptical Raptor but he just redesigned his site to use light blue links, which drives me nuts.

    At least there is much less Flash animation and fewer slide shows at the top. I canceled many visits to avoid those.

    I went for Google at the beginning because of its simple and readable design, and have avoided "portals" ever since. Banking and insurance sites in the US are pretty bad because they have tended to develop for IE, which looks terrible on a Mac. There are lots of sites with operational errors that put off people with less experience than I have. Unfortunately this leads to "Sandy, could you do this for me please?" and long sessions with horrible menus.

    And even my lovely iPad betrays me, even with a stylus. My tiny fingers are not tiny enough. There is also no way to point directly to a place in the middle of a word to fix an error.

    So if they really want everybody to use their UIs, they need to design them around real people.

  12. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Thinking about it

    What we actually need is a well designed UI

    De clutter the interface, stick only the options on it you need in clearly readable fonts.

    Make everything consistant across the interface, so that the user can easily predict what happens if a different option is pressed. and hide stuff the regular users dont need to know about.

    Thats howto design for us oldies, and you'll find that works for the youngies too , as well as those people in the middle that happen to be using your PC-robot comms package.

    By the way, I did'nt copy the above from a university textbook, it came from one of the testers for the comms package.


    PS. is this the same tescos website that demanded you setup an account with your credit card and address before they'd let you start shopping on their site?

  13. Fink-Nottle

    Growing old is not a disability.

  14. Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics

    Pet hate for me with my older eyes - software that doesn't give you the ability to manage font sizes for viewing easily, consistently or at all, e.g. OS X, Apple Mail and Evernote (but there are a lot more, especially on the Mac). Elegant zooming and scaling is one of the main reasons I spend most of my time in Parallels/Windows on the MacBook Air. And no, changing the screen resolution (solution offered by one Fanbois I asked) is not an acceptable answer.

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