The internet is no longer just for young people. Seniors are rapidly getting online. When targeting an older audience, you need to keep certain factors in mind. You have to realize that older people didn’t grow up with the internet and have certain unique needs. Here are 19 tips to make sure your website is senior-friendly.
1. Use Large and Easy-to-R
Seniors often have trouble seeing small print. If your website has tiny fonts, you’ll be causing unnecessary difficulties for your far-sighted (i.e. people who don’t see well up close) visitors. You don’t have to overdo it and use gigantic fonts. Stick to fonts that are 12 to 14-point. A text-resize button makes it easy for users to adjust the font size as needed. Avoid fancy or artistic fonts and italics, as these can be hard to read.
2. Support Screen Readers
For seniors who have trouble reading
3. Provide Subtitles for Audio or Video Content
While some seniors use screen readers because they have difficulty reading, you also have to keep your hearing impaired visitors in mind. To do this, supplement videos and audio content with subtitles for those who are hard of hearing. It’s now quite simple to add subtitles and closed captions to YouTube videos, for example.
4. UI Navigation
A straightforward user interface makes it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Seniors, in particular, require user-friendly navigation. Breadcrumb navigation is good for SEO as well as for making it easier for seniors to get around your site. Breadcrumbs are clues that remind visitors where they are on your site and how to return to the homepage or other pages.
5. Avoid Jargon and Acronyms
Older visitors aren’t always up to date with the latest jargon and technological trends. If you’re introducing a new concept, make sure you explain it clearly. Avoid acronyms or at least explain them. For example, popular acronyms such as ICYMI (in case you missed it) or IMHO (in my humble opinion) are well known to younger users but may confuse seniors.
6. Make Your Content and Calls-to-Action Easy to Understand
This is actually good advice in general, but applies especially to websites with older visitors. Numbered lists with clear instructions are easier to follow than long blocks of text. Provide call-to-action buttons that are highly visible.
7. Use Contrast to Make Pages Easier to Read
Color contrasts make text and web page features more readable. The simplest example of this is black type on a white background. Using different shades of a color such as dark blue on light blue makes it harder to read.
8. Reduce Clutter
Seniors are likely to find a cluttered website confusing and overwhelming. Keep distractions such as popups to a minimum. Don’t overload a page with images, videos, ads, and banners. Provide plenty of white space in between sections. This is another tip that actually enhances your website for all visitors as clutter detracts from clarity.
9. Keep Forms Simple
Complex web forms can be tedious for seniors. Tasks that younger users take for granted, such as needing to insert hyphens for phone numbers, can be cumbersome for older people who aren’t as adept with keyboard tasks. Minimize fields and make tasks as clear and as straightforward as possible.
10. Use Easily Recognizable Images
Images are crucial for all websites today. All users, regardless of age, are drawn to graphics. With seniors, you should focus on images that are straightforward and relevant to the text. Emoticons and images that are abstract or complex can be confusing.
11. Be Sensitive to Lifestyles and Experiences of Seniors
When creating content for a website (or in emails, social media, or other platforms), it’s easy to unconsciously make assumptions about your audience. If you’re accustomed to writing for young people, for example, you might casually reference music festivals, roommates, university life, or other experiences far removed from those of most seniors. Similarly, you may speak of times prior to the year 2000 as ancient history, while many seniors have vivid memories of the 1960s and earlier.
12. Avoid Drastic Design Changes
All websites need to make changes and updates on occasion. Indeed, you may want to make some of the changes suggested here to make your website design more senior-friendly. However, drastic changes in style and navigation make it difficult for seniors to adjust. It often takes them a while to get accustomed to navigating a website. As you make updates, try to keep your menus and basic navigation features intact.
13. Minimize Scrolling
Seniors often find it difficult to scroll as they don’t have the same experience using a mouse as younger users do. You might, for example, break longer pages into sections that users can reach by clicking on clearly marked links.
14. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
One underappreciated fact is that more and more seniors are going mobile. Older adults are embracing both smartphones and tablets. The PEW Research Center reports that smartphone use among seniors nearly quadrupled between 2012 and 2017. Similarly, nearly a third of seniors use tablets. To make sure you reach this growing audience, make sure you use responsive design that’s accessible to all devices.
15. Use Tools to Improve Comprehension and Recall
Seniors may have trouble with short-term memory. There are several ways to make your content easier to digest and recall.
- Organize information into chunks. Use headings, subheadings, and lists.
- Avoid run-on or complex sentences. Use the active voice whenever possible.
- Insert quizzes to reinforce content and facilitate recall.
16. Make Links Visible and Easy to Click
Make sure your links are easy for seniors to see and click on. Links should be larger than other text (or use icons) and stand apart. For text links, it’s best if they change color when the mouse hovers over them. Additionally, keep in mind that it’s easier for seniors to single-click than double-click on links.
17. Provide Prompts Throughout the Website
Prompts are simple suggestions or commands that instruct users on what to do next. They can be as simple as an icon labeled “Need Help?” or “Next.” Keep them simple, using action verbs or short terms. Prompts may seem unnecessary or redundant, but they can make seniors more comfortable navigating your website.
18. Avoid Automated Images
Auto-playing videos, popups, and images that move and change can be distracting and confusing to seniors. Keep these to a minimum.
19. Integrate Your Website With Other Digital Marketing Strategies
Seniors are increasingly embracing all kinds of digital technology, including email and social media. By incorporating various digital marketing strategies, you can better engage with your audience. Invite your website visitors to subscribe to your email list. Use social media buttons to entice them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter.
These are some of the best ways to ensure that your website is senior-friendly. It’s important to stay engaged with your audience and encourage them to provide you with feedback. Poll them and directly ask them if there are ways you could make your site more user-friendly. As more and more seniors enter cyberspace, it’s essential that we keep their needs in mind.
For help with your senior living website design or for a free consultation, give us a call at (844) 408-4081.