For each project we like to research the target groups and make personas so that we know for whom we design and build an app or website and especially how they will use it. One of the target groups can be the elderly. What do you pay attention to when designing something that the elderly should use?
From the moment people turn 40, the visibility already deteriorates. Less light comes in, contrast is less good and distinguishing colors becomes more difficult. So it is important to take this into account in the design.
- Make sure your font is large enough (at least 16 pixels) so that most can read it
- Preferably make sure that people themselves can adjust the size of the letter when it is not large enough.
- The navigation menus and buttons should be larger and easily clicked.
- Choose a legible font such as Arial, Verdana or Helvetica.
- Make sure the line spacing is 1.5 so that it becomes easier to read.
This applies to almost every target group, but certainly also very much to the elderly. The memory does not get better naturally over the years. The capacity of the working memory decreases in the elderly, they also process all information sequentially while young people process it in parallel. On a busy page, therefore, older people spend more time processing everything and finding what they are looking for.
- Do not use too many images / icons because they distract too much.
- Do not offer too much information at one time.
- Consistency in your website or app is even more important for the elderly: precisely because of the poor working memory.
Content for the elderly
The way you write is also important for every target group. For the elderly, you can pay attention to:
- Make as little use as possible of jargon and other “slang” that may be understandable for the youth but certainly not for the elderly.
- Use descriptive headers.
- The elderly have more patience than the youth: texts can (if properly formatted) be written longer.
- Do you use video? Make sure there is subtitle because not all older people still hear well enough to follow.
- Older people also use screen readers: try it out to see if it can be followed with such a screen reader.
- Look especially carefully at error messages (for example when logging in or forms). They are often written in too complex a way that means that older people don’t understand what they are doing wrong.
More tips to make it easier for seniors
- The elderly like to get in touch with someone in person. Give them the possibility to contact you by phone to help them perform a certain task.
- Bear in mind that older people are the largest users of tablets: they naturally have a larger screen than phones and are easier to read for them.
- Pay close attention to the contrast difference, the more contrast difference there is, the better it is for people to read. Tools are available to check the contrast ratio.
- Do not use only icons for seniors, but also add text. That helps them to understand better.