If you're in the business of marketing to older populations, you're in the right place. If you're not in the business of marketing to senior citizens, read on and rethink that strategy. So how do you create Senior-Friendly Website Design?
Older generations hold a significant amount of buying power, and they're keen on using it. In the United States, for example, Baby Boomers represent 44% of the population but hold 70% of the country's disposable income — and they buy nearly half of all consumer-packaged goods. And in Australia, there are about 7.3 million older consumers who just aren't being targeted by most marketing campaigns.
And most of these people are online: research shows that more than half of them are on Facebook, and over 8 million boomers spend more than 20 hours online every week. That translates to a good source of revenue for companies, as individuals over the age of 50 spend around $7 billion dollars online every year.
This represents a huge opportunity for marketers willing to meet the older generation's needs.
But the first step is making your company's online presence senior-friendly for your website's older visitors. Otherwise, they're likely to just bounce right off of your page and spend their money elsewhere.
So without further ado, let's jump right into how you can make your website design friendly for seniors.
Senior-Friendly Website Design Tips
Everyone knows the stereotype about older people not being tech-savvy. And while there are certainly plenty of exceptions, you will still want to ensure that your website is very easy to use if you expect a lot of senior citizens browsing through your pages. Here are a few tips to ensure a high level of usability.
- Easy Navigation: Forget about hidden drop-down and fly-out menus. Senior citizens don't want to have to click on buttons or links just to see a link to another page. They will also appreciate having "previous" and "next" buttons to easily navigate to similar content if possible. It's also important to have your search box easily accessible, as many older internet users prefer searching directly for what they want, rather than clicking around a site through its navigation structure.
- Consistency: Don't make visitors switch from layout to layout. Ensure that your site's design and navigation remain consistent from page to page. In particular, make sure that your search box, print button, and page title are always in the same place.
- Clarity: Do older visitors know what to expect when they click on each link? Avoid the use of "click here" and instead spell out what they will see or read if they click through the link. This is best practice anyway, but particularly important for older visitors who expect descriptions of what they will experience.
- Readability: Here's a big one. Your site should be easy to read, with adjustable fonts. Avoid the temptation to use unique typefaces or small text — let the focus be on the words you use, not the graphics around them. Similarly, you will want to ensure that there is plenty of white space between lines and words. You may also want to consider including an easy-to-find button that loads an alternate style sheet with larger font sizes.
There's no point having a website for your business if your audience can't read it or get where you want them to be. For older users who may have limited vision (or the patience to struggle through a hard-to-read page) having great visibility is incredibly important.
- Simple Designs: What's the point of your business website? Hopefully, it's to showcase your products and knowledge. It's all about content, and your website design should accentuate and feature the content within the site while looking professional. So ditch the confusing, distracting moving elements. They may be flashy, but tend to make your site look like it's covered in advertisements. The end result? Older visitors aren't going to stick around on your site if you don't keep it simple.
- Distinct Elements: Your call to action should not blend into the background. Have click able elements or particularly important sections stand out by using high-contrast combinations and large buttons.
- Organisation: Here's another best practice that's particularly important for older visitors: organising your text with plenty of headings and bullets to break up the text. Use large titles and section headings to help all your users digest the content on your site. And because older folks may have difficulty with memory or information processing, make sure you stick to the inverted pyramid style of presenting information: the most newsworthy parts (who, what, why, where), followed by important details, then general background information at the end.
- Connection: If a picture says a thousand words, how much does your overall design speak to your audience? Older generations connect best with warm designs that they can relate to. So, incorporate soft, muted colour palettes and images of happy people — and yes, that includes people of all ages. After all, people respond best to marketing materials that reflect their own gender, age, and other demographics.
That's a lot to take in! If you're looking to make your website more welcoming to a senior audience, we can help. Please contact us today.