These days, plenty of grandmas have traded in their knitting needles for MacBooks: The number of senior citizens using the internet has risen dramatically in recent years, jumping from 11.3 million users in 2004 to 17.5 million in 2009. Given that so many older people are spending time online, it’s important to ensure that you’ve done everything you can to make your business’ website a pleasant browsing experience for them, particularly if your product or shop is geared toward an older audience. Here are some tips to help you build a senior-friendly site.
1) Break text up into simple, short segments. Because senior citizens didn’t grow up with the internet, some older people have more trouble processing information online than younger generations do. Keep your web copy clear and concise, spotlighting the most important information first.
2) Use a large and adjustable font size. Some seniors have vision problems, so be sure to use an easily-readable typeface like Arial or Verdana in at least a 12- or 14-point type size, and include a text-resizing widget that will allow users to automatically enlarge the size of the text if it’s still too small.
3) Don’t use text image files. You may have a greater variety of font choices by creating and saving your text file as an image, but for sight-impaired seniors and others who use text-to-speech software to read websites, these pages are completely inaccessible. Not to mention: This strategy will seriously hurt your SEO efforts.
4) Include clearly labeled “Home,” “Next,” and “Back” buttons. Using the web isn’t an intuitive process for senior citizens, so if your site caters to an older audience, incorporating clear navigation buttons will help them move around with greater ease.
5) Pay attention to accessibility standards. Many elderly web users have problems with sight, hearing, motor skills, or other disabilities and use software that converts, say, text to speech or makes other media transformations. For guidelines on how to build a website that accommodates the needs of people with disabilities, read through the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.
6) Hire a consultant. If you’re focused on designing a site specifically for older users, a web accessibility consultant can audit your current site to spot problem areas, as well as offer advice for your web developer on building a site that meets the specific needs of a senior audience.
For even more strategies for customizing a website to appeal to a senior citizen audience, check out these additional tips from the National Institute on Aging.