Building a website for seniors

Building a website for seniors

Expect to get 35% more business from seniors if your website accommodates their needs. This article covers the main principles of making a website senior-friendly.

Seniors are more computer savvy than before, however remain conservative in their behaviors and appreciate familiar settings and intuitive web structure. In their report, Jacob Nielsen Group, a leading user experience firm, evaluated 75 seniors 65 years of age and older and published report that outlines how seniors use websites.

Seniors prefer traditional settings

Seniors are not fond of pull-down menus and moving interfaces. You are better off sticking with traditional static components that a person can click on even with a slightly shaky hand. This will also work towards better web accessibility as it will help people with disabilities navigate your website using only a keyboard or particular mouse.

Seniors tend to be methodical in their approach. They take time to evaluate the page before moving forward and are twice as likely to give up on a task than younger folks if things do not the way they should.

Seniors appreciate consistency

A consistent layout of all the internal pages helps people familiarize themselves with a website. Many seniors make notes of where to go on a website. Even a slight change to the website structure can make these notes obsolete. Therefore, it is essential to use layouts, images, local menus, and buttons consistently. The website navigation should be intuitive and descriptive.
Changes to familiar settings will get seniors frustrated, and they’ll give up. All of this will make your website more accessible for people with cognitive disabilities.

Accessible colors, fonts, and sizes

Many seniors experience vision problems. Ensure your body font is at least 12pt, and the website allows users to increase the text size as needed. You also want to keep an appropriate color contrast ratio.

Ensure that links are obvious – distinguish them by color so they stand out from the rest of the text. To make things even more user-friendly, use different colors to distinguish between visited and not visited links. This will help people remember which pages they have already visited.
To improve usability, on-page optimization, and accessibility, use descriptive links. Instead of “click here,” describe where the link leads to, e.g., “opening hours.”

If you have a list of useful links, leave an extra space before and after the link. There is nothing more frustrating than having links too close together and accidentally clicking on the wrong one. The same goes for buttons. Leave sufficient space around them to make it easy to click on, even for people with slightly shaky hands.

As you can see, it is a good idea to follow the principles of good usability and Web Accessibility when building a website for seniors. As the Nielsen Group found out in their research, you can expect 35% more business from seniors if your website serves their needs.

  Read full report by Nielsen Norman Group