Google News Redesign

Tags: Older Adults, Online News Service, Web Accessibility
Time: 2012
Team Members: Celeste Mason, Chunhui Wu, Xiaohui Luo, Jason Herrington
Role: Graphic Design, Focus Group, Survey, Interaction Design

How do we make online news service more attractive and usable to older adults?

Google News brings all different kinds of news to its users. However, its design is busy and with small text which makes it difficult for older adults to use. How to redesign google news to make it appealing and usable to older adults as it is to its current users is a big challenge. In this project, the accessibility of current design of google news is assessed and the news reading behavior of older adults is studied. The result of the assessment and user study have been used to redesign google news for older adults. The design outcome is a simple and intuitive news reading interface which not only facilitates older adults but also creates a better experience for its current users.


Identify usability issues and utility issues of Google News for older adults through user studies

Redesign Google News in terms of Presentation of News Categories, Access to more news details and Customization function


An evaluation of current google news webpage design was performed to investigate any barriers older adults may have with the considerations of their decreasing functionalities. After that, a survey and a focus group were followed to identify the needs of older adults on using Google News or similar internet news service. Based on the result of the evaluation and user studies, a new design has been developed and introduced.


Older adults, usually are referred to people who age 65 years old or older, have certain functionality decreases which may impact their use of Google News or just use of internet in general. The most related functionalities that may have impact on internet use are: Vision, Dexterity, and Memory.


The design of Google News is busy in general due to too much information being presented at the same time. The consequence of putting too much information on limited screen real eastate is that certain text get shrunk down into really tiny size which would be too small for older adults with vision decrease to read. In addtion to that, the cluttered information on the screen is competing with each other that it requires users to pay more attention to focus on their interested information. Google News offers customization function that users can customize the categories of News they want to receive. The customization function is realized through a slide bar in which user can slide a pointer to indicate how much they want for a certain category. This sliding interaction helps user to build up a mental model about ajusting the amount of News they want for each category. However, it may be difficult for older adults to appreciate the concept of slide bar because they are less exposed to the internet and interactions like this. Moreover, to slide the pointer to the desirable position requires precise control of the mouse. The decreased dexterity and eye sight may prevent them from doing it. In addition to the empirical evaluation, the result generated from Functional Accessibility Evaluator(link) also indicates several accessibility issues about Google News as showed in the table.


- How do older adults use the internet with the focus on news acquisition?
The majority have not customized websites and less than half voiced interest in doing so.

- What key indicators do older adults use when selecting websites for certain tasks?
Easy navigation is the main factor; Prefer step-by-step guides

- What are typical difficulties older adults experience viewing websites?
Overabundance of steps to perform a function; Unclear jargon; Cluttered content; Overwhelming ads

- Do/how do older adults attempt to alleviate these difficulties?
Prefer step-by-step guides; Ask friends and family; Search by themselves; Follow tutorial; Give up


* Use of Internet: activities they do online *

email, tutoring, banking, travel planning, online library, research, shopping

* Use of News Website *

- Most of the participants showed a strong preference towards traditional newspaper

- Some of the participants mentioned they will use news websites if they want more detailed information about certain news

- Some participants mentioned that they do not want ads or other prompt information to interfere while they are reading

- Some participants mentioned that they would like the customization function if it is simple enough to use

- One participant mentioned “personalization is a plus”


Based on the result of the survey and the focus group, it seems that older adults do not use internet for news acquisition very often. The channel they use to get news is from traditional newspapers. The main reason they don't use internet for news acquisition is that they are satisfied with the current news channel(newspapers) and are not willing to change it unless the internet news service will provide additional information for the news they are interested in. The design challenge is to design an internet news service that brings them the same experience they have with the traditional newspapers so that the new service is not forcing them to change their habits with reading news. At the same time, the interface should be simple enough for them to maneuver.

The final design is about simplifying the news with just important information. Considering their sensory limitations, the text size is big and with simple alignment to create a linear flow of news . To make the news to be easily retrieved, the pages of news that have been read will be automatically archived when users click on the "refresh" button. It creates the same experience of reading the traditional newspaper that all the information has once been presented is retrievable all the time. The customization function has also been designed to have an easy interaction of cliking to add more categories of users' own interest.