Older demographics are increasingly internet savvy, having used the web for work and for convenient shopping and communication at home. But while the senior population is better equipped for website navigation, it’s important to increase website accessibility, particularly if you’re a site catering to the needs of seniors, such as a nursing home or assisted living community website.
Luckily, with a little more research, web designers can be better informed about how to create an accessible website. Here are a few key steps to making your website senior friendly.
Most web users respond immediately to the visual appeal of a website, but this can be a problem if the site is not well formatted for visually impaired users. When building your text, consider what would happen if your reader needed to make the text of your website larger. Would it still be readable, or would static elements get in the way? Many older readers will want to enlarge the text on your website to read it better, but if your static site fails to accommodate this, they’ll quickly move on.
It’s also important to be careful when using colors to indicate actions options. As many as 8% of all men are genetically colorblind, making commonly color coded actions, such as “cancel” and “join” buttons harder to comprehend. Try formatting items in different ways to create contrast, rather than using colors.
One common problem that older web users have is a limited ability to detect and use hyperlinks. Not only should your hyperlinks be a different color, but they should also be a minimum of three words long. Longer hyperlinks allow the reader more leeway when attempting to click on them. You may also consider making hyperlinks slightly larger than the rest of your text or using signal words to let readers know that a link is forthcoming.
When working to make your website more accessible for an older audience, forego navigation that opens internal links in a new window. Although many younger users find window tabs helpful, senior computer users tend to expect the link to appear when they click on it and can have a difficult time using the tabs to navigate different areas.
Testimonials are a popular website component in the healthcare industry, including for nursing homes. One way to make your testimonials both more appealing and more accessible is to offer them in both video and transcript format. Senior computer users often gain a sense of trust from seeing others like themselves featured, testifying to the excellent environment and quality care, especially in an era when nursing home abuse is on the rise. By making the text both auditory and visual, users can choose the format that works better for them, but still see an image of the person giving the testimonial. This kind of double formatting is helpful for accommodating a range of perceptual challenges.
Focus On Desktop Formats
Although Google tends to focus on mobile access, accessibility functions on a desktop are far more important to senior site users. This is because, although many have an easier time with touch screens than with a computer mouse, mobile platforms tend to feel fidgety and are generally seen as a young person’s game. Make sure your site is doing the necessary mobile optimization to keep your Google rankings steady, and then focus on offering a variety of accessibility options on the desktop platform.