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Web Design for Older Visitors

If a significant percentage of visitors to your web site are older, it's important to ensure the user experiences is optimized for them.

By 2030, more than 1/5th of the US population will be 65 and older.

And seniors are less wary of the web than they used to be:

A 2019 Pew Research study found that 73% of people over 65 used the web on a regular basis.

A web site that is harder to use for this group of people may cause them to leave (and never come back).

How can you tell the age of your visitors?
Your site's pages should include a Google Analytics code that provides demographic (but not personally identifiable) data to Google. This can then be reviewed in the Analytics dashboard.
Questions About This?

And because (according to the US Census Bureau) people over 65 have the highest amount of household wealth, this is likely a group you do not want to scare away.

Even if you don't think you have many older people visiting your site, much of the advice below leads to better sites overall, which attracts (and retains) people of every age.

 

So What Makes for Senior-Friendly Web Sites?

There are several areas that factor in: navigation, visual elements, usability, and content.

  Navigation

The goal of your web site navigation should be to get your visitor from point A to point B as quickly and as easily as possible. The more obstacles or confusion they encounter, the more likely they are to just give up and leave.

The logical layout of your site content should be simple and intuitive, and your navigation should reflect this.

Seniors are often searching for specific information and not just “browsing around” so make it easy for them to find what they're looking for.

  Use words in your navigation that clearly identify what the destination pages will show.

  Eliminate things from your navigation (and page content) that aren't critical. With both navigation and page content, less is more.

  Some seniors have memory and/or concentration issues, so set up your navigation so it smoothly guides your visitors to the things they're looking for.

 

  Visual Elements

Vision loss or impairment is common for older people, but also affects younger people.

Buttons and text should be large.

  Buttons should clearly look like they are clickable / tapable.

  Text should use easily readable fonts that use high contrast colors.

Think about the words you use, too. Something that helps new web site visitors is a navigation item or button that says “Start Here”. On the page that points to, you can guide your visitor through the ideal path you want him to follow.

Another example is the words used on buttons. By default, many web forms have a button that says “submit”. But sometimes “subscribe” or “order now” or “send more information” will resonate better with your older visitors.

The colors used on your site are critical. While subtle contrasting colors or gradients may look nice aesthetically, they can create problems for people with vision issues.

But don't go too far in the other direction either. The use of too many bold colors can be distracting and confusing.

 

  Usability

Some people in their late 50s or 60s might begin to notice a decline in their motor skills and coordination.

Things like moving a mouse cursor or tapping a tablet or phone screen can become more challenging. Your web site should keep this in mind and try to make things easier.

The solutions for people with vision issues apply here as well. Things like big buttons and larger fonts provide bigger “targets” for clicking and tapping, thus making those actions easier.

Using the scrollbar can also be problematic since it requires both vision and coordination skills.

It's best to keep your most important content as high up on the page as possible to minimize the need for scrolling.

If you have a larger page with a lot of content, ask your web designer about using “jump links” that let the visitor quickly get to other parts of the page without having to scroll.

 

  Content

When it comes to the actual content on your web site and how older people will “consume” it, you will see better results if you keep it simple and short.

Make the key things you're communicating very obvious. Don't make people search out the information they're looking for. While a search box can be helpful, just having one implies that your content is not well-organized.

Make sure images and other graphical elements actually add value and aren't just decoration. Animation and other “eye candy” might be fun to include, but sometimes it's just distracting and useless.

It's better to make your home page short, sweet, and to the point.

You can “tease” some things and have a “Read More” link to a page with more content, but make sure the tease provides enough clear information to entice the visitor to actually want to read more.

A trick some web designers use to determine if a page's content and design is good is to step back from the screen, squint a little, and see what stands out most on the page. If it's the most important things you're trying to convey, there's some work to do.

 

Conclusion

Older people are a growing percentage of web visitors. To get them to stay on your site (and hopefully come back) there are several things you can do. A web site designed to solve the issues that some older people face can result in happier visitors.

 

Get in Touch!

Get in touch with us if you'd like a free, no-obligation evaluation of your web site to see how “senior-friendly” it is.