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Tips for Designing a Website for Seniors and the Elderly

July 4 2013

Do seniors and the elderly use websites differently from the younger audience? Is your business losing potential customers by not accommodating the needs of the senior audience? Seniors are big users of the internet. From booking tickets to the opera, right through to checking out cruise information, senior citizens and the elderly are on the internet and they are spending hours upon hours surfing for information on topics such as: travel, leisure, health, well being, insurance, the list just goes on. And the big news is as time goes on this market will keep on growing. Over 65’s are highly active online and are keen to spend their retirement dollars.

Following are a few tips to consider when looking at your website user interface if your site is geared towards seniors.

Make the Navigation Easy.

Seniors are more inclined to look at the page they are on rather than explore the site. To make site navigation as easy as possible, ideally keep major ‘buy buttons’ and ‘push points’ easy to locate. Tricky, minimal design, reserved for some architectural style sites can be off putting and will result in seniors exiting the site.

Seniors Read Content

If you think that you can publish content for the sake of it, Be Warned! Seniors are great readers of web page content, so what ever you write make certain the content is correct and not over spammy ( which can be the case when people are writing for search engines).

Mouse skills are not what they used to be.

Little explanation is needed for this. Needless to say, try to keep a good spacing between your main navigation buttons and avoid over complicated menu systems.

A Home button is vital so is a search function.

Getting lost on some sites can be an issue so make it very easy to get back to the home page by having the logo as the home page button. Having a search function on the site will help seniors get to where they want to go. Look at sites like Domain and other major travel sites. Note how easy they are to get around and find information. One extremely nifty option is to have a site map at the bottom footer of the site.

Keeps Colours Neutral.

Avoid bright, over the top colours. Neutrals are better on the eye. Also, make sure that font size is a minimum 12pt. Use of italics and some fonts can be hard to read. Hence lost senior customers. The benchmark here is to keep everything simple, uncluttered and fairly static.

Avoid Unnecessary Account Creation Forms

Seniors want to get into the website and make a purchase. If they are forced to fill out lengthy account creation forms in order to buy, this may put them off. If you want to capture their information, do so, only after they have bought and make it entirely optional. Once you have this information keep the spam newsletters and daily emails down to a minimum and allow them to opt out easily.

Basic Recommendations for Designing Websites for Seniors

  • Make important points on the site that must be clicked on stand out. This is not a game. Make the senior user experience as delightful as you can.
  • Keep online instructions simple and if they need to download these, make the PDF button clear and big. 
  • Make sales buttons larger than normal information buttons. 
  • Make sure that there is contrast in the colours and what ever you do never have white text on a black or coloured background. Black text on white is the best solution for legibility.

I look at my folks who are forever on the computer and realise the issues that they have. I can almost hear the sighs and oops when mistakes are made and pages are missed.  Web companies must bear in mind that the older generation are becoming more web savvy but do need help in the way they get around sites they develop. This audience cannot be ignored by businesses or companies looking to tap into this market.