4 Things to Do When Designing for Seniors

Web users are getting older, but most websites are not easy to use for seniors. I studied scores of people over the age of 65 as they use the web. In doing so, I have witnessed lots of seniors who are as comfortable and savvy with the web as any millennial does. Still, we can’t deny that our human body deteriorates as we age. When it does, these areas affect the web usage. Mostly, our eyesight weakens, our memories fade, and our fingers and hands lose dexterity.

There’s a lot of things that we can do to make the web easier for everyone. But there are four things that all web pages must have to improve the experience for seniors. First, create high contrast between text and its background. Text size and font style greatly affect the legibility. But low contrast between the text and its background makes it very difficult for seniors to read.

Second, give cues in the interface about the action that the user recently took. For example, repeat the search query on a search engine results page. The visual treatment, like the color of visited links on pages. Match the page title with the words in the link so that the user will click it to reach that page. Some of these suggestions may seem dated, but they abide the proven design recommendation to help people recognize where they are, rather than forcing them to recall what they have done.

Third, make a link and the button targets large enough to click or tap and leave plenty of space between them. Acquiring a very tiny link can be problematic. Likewise, accidentally hitting the wrong link can be difficult to recover from.

Fourth, don’t change your global navigation on a whim. Seniors often write down the steps they take to achieve their common tasks in a web site. Changing something means they need to relearn and rewrite their notes. Do these four things for seniors knowing that all accessibility are related changes. Making these changes will help not only the old ones, but will help everyone.

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