A whopping 73% of older adults use the internet, according to this Pew Research data. It's awesome that they're keeping up with today's technology, but they always need help. You know this because you're the go-to grandchild who resurrects the internet—just unplug the adapter and wait ten seconds before plugging it back in.
Of course, power cycling a wifi router isn't your only specialty. That's why you get those late-night tech-support calls from grandma or grandpa asking for your guidance on navigating the treacherous waters of a website. It takes minutes, sometimes hours, to walk them through. By the end, they'll get frustrated and give up, and you cannot help but feel a bit sad about it.
Now you have your website and wonder how you can make it easy for older adults to have a look around. We at Mesmeric can help. Here are some all-inclusive website design tips that will make your grandparents smile from ear to ear.
Accessible design in the realm of website creation is broad. That's because there are plenty of groups to consider. So we'll narrow down our focus to the elderly. We'll suggest tips you can do in your inclusive design process that caters to seniors, which may also benefit others.
A huge contributor to poor user experience is complicated design. It also affects every website visitor in any age range, most of all the older ones.
Creating websites populated with varying objects, large and small, can overwhelm older potential customers. It's like going to a thrift store and digging through a box of assorted toys to find a red ball. There's bound to be stuff that can distract them, especially for seniors who may only be there to fulfill a specific purpose.
To make an inclusive web design that seniors appreciate, you must think minimally. Make the web page simple and remove any unnecessary design elements that don't serve any purpose. Doing so will make them more comfortable navigating the website to find what they need.
For an ecommerce site, check your product pages. If it feels like all product features and information are dumped on the page's top fold, update it. Roll out the product features slowly instead of all at the same time to make an accessible, senior-friendly website.
A common problem for senior users is being unable to read website texts because it's too small. So to make an accessible website for grandparents, have the option to make fonts larger. Make this option noticeable on each of your pages to cater to visually impaired users.
This is because of differences in their ability to see texts (i.e., visual acuity). For example, some seniors can see the text better if it's small, while some need it to be large. So it's important to cater to both.
A good practice is to default to a font size of 16px. Another thing that will help us to keep your font style consistent.
By now, we already know our grandparents want things to be large. So apart from an option to have large texts, they'll also need up-sized buttons. This will help them locate the important actions they must take to move forward.
A large button is also helpful for seniors who use mobile devices or tablets to browse websites. In most cases, they take whatever is on their screen, which can be difficult for them because it's small. So having a large-sized button combined with a good color contrast will serve as a life raft in the sea of tiny, ambiguous website details. This will reduce the cognitive load.
A lot of websites iconize options to make things look sleeker. Plus, the small size also saves real estate for more important components. But if your visitors include people of older age groups, you may want to spell those options out if you want to implement an inclusive design.
They won't always remember the "hamburger button" as the option for the menu or the "house with a little chimney button" that will take them back to the home page. So it's better to put them in words (and follow the first tip).
It's also easier for the younger ones to walk the older users through should they get lost. "Menu" and "home" buttons are easier to say because they have a low syllable count. Plus, both seniors and young people alike are familiar with it.
Large images and other graphical objects are powerful tools to convey information, especially for seniors. To pump up a webpage's visual appeal, consider making your webpage's graphical and visual aspects bigger.
A visually-driven web page is senior-friendly. It's like holding up flashcards with drawings of everyday objects to a child. They don't have to spell it out because they understand. This hits two things: you'll get to flaunt that visually driven site while communicating what you want them to know.
For visually impaired seniors, provide an option to access screen readers. Even if they can't enlarge the font size and have trouble navigating the web pages, they can still explore your website.
Assistive technologies such as screen readers and audio content help senior users with web accessibility. Apart from assisting the older generation, it will also make your site more welcoming to a diverse audience, especially those with visual disabilities.
Make auto-suggestions and spelling checkers a part of your inclusive design aims. For older grandparents suffering from cognitive and learning disabilities, this will help them tremendously.
Just imagine the convenience they will feel if they don't have to recall the proper spelling of something they're looking for. Of course, having that spelled out on a search bar or a text field will also save them the work of typing it onto the keyboard or a mobile device screen.
The internet is accessible to the entire world. So even if your website only caters to English-speaking users, it's best to include a simple language configuration for non-English speakers.
Web content is easier to read if translated into your language. So not only will this improve the user experience of grandparents, but it will also make your website fully inclusive for overseas users.
Consider hyperlinks as part of your accessible web design elements. Do away with links that are anchored on ambiguous words. Instead, let visitors know what they can expect when they click the hyperlink.
In addition, make it obvious to older users that a hyperlink is clickable. Most of the time, they'll pass up on a hyperlink and dismiss it as just text with a blu-ish color.
So let them know! Instead of using "here" as an anchor text, switch it up and use word groups such as "click here to buy product ABC" to help them make sense of the hyperlink. It can also improve your website's click data and bring you closer to conversion.
Don't beat around the bush. They want to get from point A to point B with as little friction as possible. For them to get there, you have to show them your website acts like a sturdy hand that holds them as they get across. That's how your instructions should work.
So craft clear heading copies if you're going to use text instruction. Exercise prudence on putting unreasonable navigational signs. Read the first tip again and keep things straightforward.
Many senior users are drawn to reminders and alerts, so it's a good idea to use this accessibility-inclusive design feature. This can be awesome if you're running an e-commerce website that reminds older adults about stuff they want to buy.
So make sure you set reminders and alerts, but only for web pages that need them. Website forms are excellent examples of elements that need reminders.
Make it possible for users to take the shortcut to get what they want. Search engines can do that. So you have to treat this website feature as a concierge and thus an inclusive web design feature.
If you can, include voice search to your website's search engine to make it fully inclusive to grandparents and people with disabilities in hearing.
Empathy is the foundation when making web design decisions for your grandparents. Just imagine yourself buying a yarn roll online 50-60 years from now. Perhaps technology will be more advanced; it'll make you feel like a fossil just by looking at its interface. You might raise your hands and give up that beanie project altogether!
As young and capable people of today, we're the ones in the position to make these changes. So let's make them. Let's ask ourselves what inclusive design features will help our grandparent's life be easier in today's digital age. Use the tips above as a starting point.Now all you need is an inclusive web design and development team from Mesmeric to help you implement them. So if you're ready to stop those late-night, tech support-type calls from your grandparents, get to know our website design agency and learn more about our services here.
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