The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a new trend that is making it easier for older adults to surf the net. Specifically, companies are attempting to make their websites older adult-friendly by implementing some obvious changes, as well as some intricate details. All of these changes are expected to make navigating websites easier for older adults while decreasing friction. This is coming during the pandemic, when more and more older adults are taking their lives online, making this an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating an enjoyable online experience for this audience.
Some companies began adjusting their websites even before the pandemic, noting that the economy is shifting as older adults’ buying power is increasing. This trend signals more companies becoming attuned to the needs of this growing population when it comes to designing apps and websites. Marketing research by a consulting firm in the UK shows that only 42% of older adults said they found technology straightforward to use. These are troubling numbers when it is considered that older adults will quickly drop a convoluted online experience, and are likely not return to that company website.
Some practical design changes have been to increase text size, adjust color contrast, incorporate the use of brighter and bolder colors, and reduce infinite scrolling by switching to more linear designs like those in newspapers.
Although this is a promising trend in offering common-sense designs to websites, many more companies have yet to heed the call to action. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is not because the changes are complex or expensive, but because many companies are missing the mark with a universal approach to web design; enhancing accessibility for older adults and adults with disabilities often improves usability for everyone. Keeping the ‘human factor’ behind website design in mind will meet manifold needs; therefore it is recommended to design a site for a full spectrum of users.
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Deighton K. Some Companies Make Their Websites More Elderly-Friendly. The Wall Street Journal.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-companies-make-their-websites-more-elderly-friendly-11603569592. Updated October 24, 2020. Accessed December 9, 2020.