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Open Thread Update: Attention Product Developers!

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 [email protected]


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