Today, one billion people are 60 years or older. That’s 12% of the entire world population, and the age group is growing faster than any other group. Yet online the needs of older adults are rarely often overlooked or omitted.
What do we need to consider to make our designs more inclusive for older adults? Let’s take a closer look.
When designing for older adults, we shouldn’t make our design decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions that are often not true at all. Don’t assume that older adults struggle to use digital. Most users are healthy, active, and have a solid income.
They might use the web differently than younger users, but that doesn’t mean we need to design a “barebones” version for them. What we need is a reliable, inclusive digital experience that helps everyone feel independent and competent.
Good accessibility is good for everyone. To make it happen, we need to bring older adults into our design process and find out what their needs are. This doesn’t only benefit the older audience but improves the overall UX — for everyone.
This is an upcoming part of Smart Interface Design Patterns — a 10h-video library on design patterns & UX. With a live UX training starting March 8. Use code LINKEDIN to save 15% .
When designing for older users, keep in mind that there are significant differences in age groups 60–65, 65–70, 70–75, etc., so explore design decisions for each group individually.
Older adults often read and analyze every word (so-called Stroop effect), so give them enough time to achieve a task, as well as control the process. So avoid disappearing messages so that users can close them themselves when they are ready, or presenting only 1 question at a a time in a form.
Older adults also often struggle with precise movements, so avoid long, fine drag gestures and precision. If a user performs an action they didn’t mean to and runs into an error, be sure your error messages are helpful and forgiving as older adults often view error messages as a personal failure.
As always when it comes to accessibility, watch out for contrast. Particularly shades of blue/purple and yellow/green are often difficult to distinguish. When using icons, it is also a good idea to add descriptive labels to ensure everyone can make sense of them, no matter their vision.
This section is an upcoming part of Smart Interface Design Patterns, a friendly 10h video library and a live UX training with live sessions, real-life UX challenges, personal 1:1 feedback and UX certification (starting March 8). Ah, use the coupon code LINKEDIN to save 15 off.
Thank you so much for your support, everyone — and happy designing!
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See also: UX study guides & guidelines