Talk Through Message (Pattern)

Experiments with Voice Help for BrookesTalk showed that speech output that talks older adults through their interaction could enable people to use software where they hadn't been able to use it before (Zajicek & Hall, 2000)

Pattern name: Talk Through Message

Use when: When it would be helpful to be told where you are in the interaction and what you can do next.

Why: Older adults find difficulty in building strategies at the interface, mainly because this activity relies on short-term memory. Memory loss means that it is difficult to remember what you did last time and to build up a model of how the interaction works.

How: Where a new task is about to be tackled, talk through messages should be inserted to help with orientation to the new process. It is best to arrange for more competent users to switch off the messages when they are no longer needed.

Example: 1. 'You have arrived at the point where you tell us when you would like to come for your IT Taster Session. Sessions run from 10:30 to 15:30 every hour. Please say something like 'ten thirty' to see if the session is available".

Tradeoffs: Talk through messages irritate confidant users and slow them down. They slow down even novice users and make for more speech output to listen to, but are considered to be most worthwhile for older adults.