Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Art and Design

First Advisor

Debra Satterfield

Second Advisor

Debra Satterfield

Third Advisor

Roger Baer


The aging population, one of the fastest growing age groups in the United States, is an audience that graphic designers and visual communicators often fail to address. Fast-food menu displays are just one example of a design that may not meet the needs of a senior clientele. This study consolidates and summarizes a variety of literature relevant to the design needs of an aging population.;This study then poses four research questions: (1) How can we design a fast-food menu for the aging eye? (2) How can a designer understand the functional problems associated with the visual and motor deficits of the older population? (3) What colors do elderly have difficulty seeing? What typeface is easiest to see at a distance? (4) What size does that typeface have to be in order for it to be read without any difficulty?;By considering the changes that occur as the eye ages, the fast-food industry could take a giant step forward. Two basic conditions must be met in order to make fast-food menu displays more legible and effective. The first condition is that the material (text & photographs) on the menu should be both visible and legible. The second condition is that the items on the menu must be easily understood. To test the current fast-food menu displays, 90 individuals responded to a questionnaire. The questionnaire provided data that begins to reveal how people order food from the menus at fast-food restaurants. The same questionnaire also collected some qualitative data regarding individuals' overall impressions of fast-food menu design. The outdoor menu displays of four drive-thru fast-food restaurants were also evaluated and analyzed based on criteria established by the literature review.;Results from the study provided some answers about what individuals like and want in the designs of fast-food menus. Speed and consistency were two suggestions that were reported by multiple respondents on the surveys. Also, there seemed to be a strong preference for pictures. The findings from the menu analysis show that there is not a universal standard in terms of outdoor fast-food menu display design.;The purpose of this line of research is to produce some preliminary guidelines for the structure, organization, and design layout of outdoor drive-thru fast-food menu displays. The study establishes critical legibility factors related to aging vision and analyzes the displays of four fast-food restaurants.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Kimberly Marie Melhus



Proquest ID


OCLC Number




File Format


File Size

163 pages