According to the Administration on Aging (AoA), people 65+ represented 14.5% of the population in 2014 and are expected to grow to be 21.7% of the population by 2040. Even more noteworthy, of the 29 million Americans that play golf, 37% are 60+ based on statistics from the National Golf Foundation, US Census Department in 2015.
Total e Integrated is committed to working with the golf and private community industries, and what these statistics tell us (and should tell you) is that we must design our websites to be age-friendly, given the significant market share seniors make up in both industries. In this blog, I will endeavor to cover a variety of “do’s” and “don’ts” that you can apply to your website to create a more seamless user experience for your senior customers. So, how can you create an age-friendly website? Let’s get started…
THE HAMBURGER MENU
Although you have probably seen the three-lined “hamburger” icon countless times, you may not have known how big an impact it can have. With today’s push toward responsive design websites (and believe me, if you don’t have a responsive design yet, you absolutely should!), the hamburger menu is becoming more and more prevalent. That’s because as you scale your website down on smaller devices, the menu will become overburdened - so it’s much easier to simply hide all your menu options behind the hamburger.
So, what kind of consequences can the hamburger have? First of all, important content is hidden – seniors often have a more difficult time with navigation (something we will cover in greater detail later), so hiding content should be avoided. Secondly, an additional step for navigation has been proven to reduce user engagement – resulting in a higher rate of drop-offs from your website. Despite the negative impact of the hamburger, you don’t want your responsive website to be overburdened with multiple menu options on such a small screen.
What is the solution? You can continue to use the hamburger icon– because you really don’t want to clutter the user experience of your website on smaller screens, but we would recommend adding the word “Menu” to help those who are less tech-savvy identify what the hamburger is. Furthermore, highlight your priorities with separate buttons outside of the hamburger icon – for example, you might have your call to actions such as “Subscribe” or “Book Now” outside of the hamburger menu. Having key call to actions outside of the hamburger will help all users including seniors, have a much more positive user experience.
TEXT & COLOR
As we get older, the lens of the eye begins to harden causing a condition called “presbyopia.” This condition makes it much more difficult to read text that is small and close. Distinguishing between colors also becomes much more difficult with age. A number of steps can be taken to alleviate any potential challenges seniors may experience while navigating your website…
- Avoid smaller fonts. Ideally fonts should be no smaller than 12 pixels, but don’t shy away from going as large as 16 pixels. Bigger is better when it comes to design for seniors.
- Avoid large sections of text and italics. Large paragraphs and italics can make it much more difficult for seniors to read your content.
- Watch your contrast ratios in text. The color of the background and text need to be distinct from one another.
- Offer text alternatives for non-text media content such as audio and video. A brief synopsis or description under your media content will go a long way in helping improve the senior user experience. Also consider including subtitles in audio and video content.
Motor control declines with age; it will take the aging population a great deal more time to move from one thing to the next on a computer or mobile device. While we may find navigating with a mouse easy, older individuals often perform better using touch interfaces – another reason to switch to a responsive design website!
How can we make our websites better for those with motor control issues? Reduce the distance between buttons and other interface elements – the ideal space is between 2 – 3 mm. Design your website with touchscreens in mind – large and easily identifiable buttons will allow for much easier navigation. Finally, reduce the number of links per page – a large number of links can result in unintended page visits.
Health and mobility can make the world a much smaller place for older individuals; offering customers with the ability to make social connections through your website is a great way improve the web experience. Because your customers likely share similar interests, you can create a fantastic social experience for customers through your website. Some things to consider include:
- Enabling group and club activity through your website.
- Including a friends list complete with messaging features is another great way to encourage social activity.
- Adding a community forum can also encourage more social activity on your website.
Anything that encourages a social community will help improve the web experience for all your customers.
Simplify form filling tasks if you want to increase your response rates. Ideally your form shouldn’t include much more than 5 to 6 total fields, and avoid over-using required fields – only key information should be required. Use large text and provide specific and detailed instructions on the information that is required. Ensure the any error messages are clear and easily understood.
When designing your website to be user-friendly for seniors, you must always consider experience. While you and I may have experience with the scroll bar, search fields, and common menu structure – your senior customers may not be as familiar with these features. By simplifying the navigation of your website, you can create a superb user experience for seniors.
Some features to consider on your website include:
- Utilizing a breadcrumb trail to help individuals navigate to previous pages easily.
- Minimize the use of movement, pop-ups, and sound on web pages – with age, we become more prone to be distracted these.
- Avoid splitting tasks over multiple screens – especially if the task requires memory of a previous action.
Breadcrumb Navigation Example
I hope that you have found the points covered in this blog to be useful. My goal was to provide some quick tips and pointers that you can easily apply to your website to make a vast improvement in user experience. Remember, if a website is too difficult, customers will likely go elsewhere. Be sure to test and investigate all parts of your web design for user friendliness, even sections you did not create – this is key to the success of your new senior-friendly web design. If you have any questions, Total e Integrated can help – our team of consultants can help you design a new, responsive, age-friendly website for your operation.