Effective Website Design Tips for a Senior Audience

Phrasing, lettering and style best practices for attracting seniors to your website

“I hope I die before I get old.” –The Who, My Generation

One of the most famously quoted lines in rock history, written by Pete Townshend, apparently has nothing to do with age, but rather, is speaking out on becoming rich and apathetic. So if one of the greatest rock bands in history has nothing against the elderly, neither should your website.

“By implementing this checklist, web designers can help open the Internet to great numbers of people over 60 who want to know more about their health and aging,” says National Institute on Aging director, Dr. Richard J. Hodes.

If your online newsletter is specifically intended for older customers, quickly run through this checklist to see if your formatting is doing the best for both you and your readers. These great tips come straight from the NIA and can help with any senior-friendly website design:

Phrasing: uses the active voice

Scrolling: avoids automatically scrolling text and provides scrolling icon

• Mouse: uses single clicks to access information

• Lettering: uses upper and lower case for body text and reserves all capitals for headlines

Justification: uses left justified text

Style: uses positive phrasing and presents information in a clear manner without need for inferences

• Menus: uses pull down and cascading menus sparingly

• Simplicity: uses simple language for text; glossary provided for technical terms

• Typeface: uses san serif typeface that is not condensed

• Color: avoids using yellow, blue and green in proximity


• Backgrounds: uses light text on dark backgrounds or visa versa; avoids patterns

• Consistent Layout: uses standard page design and navigation that is the same on each page

• Organization: uses a standard format; lengthy documents broken into short sections

• Navigation: uses explicit step-by-step navigation procedures; simple and straightforward

• Help & Information: offers a tutorial on website or offers contact information

Icons & Buttons: uses large buttons; text is incorporated with icon when possible

Text Alternatives: provides text alternatives for all other media types

• Illustrations & Photos: uses text-relevant images only • Type Weight: uses medium or bold face type

• Type Size: uses 12 or 14 point for body text

• Site Maps: uses a site map to show how site is organized

• Hyperlinks: uses icons with text as hyperlinks

• Animation, Video & Audio: uses short segments to reduce download time

Back/Forward Navigation: uses buttons such as “previous” and “next” for reviewing text

• Physical Spacing: uses double spacing in body text

“We have found that people age 60 and over now constitute the fastest growing group of computer users,” notes NLM director, Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg. Single copies of Making Your Web Site Senior Friendly: A Checklist, are available for free as a PDF download.


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