Building a website for seniors

Businesses can expect to get 35% more business from seniors if their website accommodates to their preferred standards. Seniors are more computer savvy then they were 10 years ago but remain conservative in their behaviors, prefer familiar settings and intuitive 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 so you are better off sticking with traditional static components that can be easily clicked on even with slightly shaky hand.

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

Seniors like consistent layout

Many seniors take notes of where to go on a website. Even a slight change to the website structure can make these notes obsolete. Therefore, it is important to keep consistency of navigation and layouts. Changes to familiar settings will get seniors frustrated and they’ll give up.

Accessible colours, fonts and sizes

Because seniors experience vision problems  you want to keep the font at least 12pt and allow users to increase the text size as needed. You also want to keep appropriate color contrast ratio.

Use large font for hyperlinks and distinguish them by color so they stand out from the rest of the text. To make it really user-friendly use different colors to distinguish between visited and not visited links. This is because seniors (and all of us) sometimes forget which page we have already visited.

On a list of useful links leave an extra line before and after the link so that seniors can easily click on it. The same goes for buttons. Leave sufficient space around them to make it easy to click on.

By now it's obvious that Web Accessibility principles should be followed when building a website for seniors. Good usability should be the number one priority when designing a website for seniors. Nielsen Group concluded in their research, you can expect 35% more business from seniors if your website serves their needs.

Read full report by Nielsen Norman Group

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