Web Accessibility / Web User Experience for Old Users

Web Accessibility for Old Users is something which is often overlooked. Unfortunately, when we get older we often begin to loose some of our senses and mobility... vision declines, hearing becomes more difficult, movement can be reduced and cognition is often negatively effected. Therefore, Web Accessibility is likely to be important for most of us at some point! I will be writing about this topic at length in the near future.

Over the past few weeks I have been working with some older users, and have viewed them making use of the world wide web. I thought it would be interesting to share some very basic observations of how they interacted with popular websites. The observations are certainly not scientific, but I think they are useful to add weight to some of the important usability / accessibility / user experience guidelines that I promote.


Generally, I saw once again that simplicity really made the whole user experience more usable and understandable. The websites that were cluttered and poorly arranged caused issues almost immediately. Hence the name of my business! I really see no reason or excuse for cluttered, untidy and unfriendly websites.

Unlike the younger generation, the older users i observed were reluctant to 'click to see what it does'. If the destination of the hyperlink or button was not apparent, they would be hesitant to click. It is very rare that a user who has grown up with computers and the Internet would get stuck and unable to continue on an website... however, I saw that the older generation would actually give up within seconds if the website was not sufficiently obvious to operate.

The older users were very concerned about hackers and malicious behavior on the internet. They have read about internet fraud and crime, and are very cautious as a result. Over cautious in my opinion!

In a similar vein, the credibility of each website was scrutinized. When we were looking for local services (plumbers, etc) the unprofessional websites were discarded very quickly, particularly if they did not provide full and easy to find contact details.

Pop-up windows and dialogue boxes caused a lot of issues. Surprisingly, the Firefox download dialogue box caused frustration and confusion. When are pop ups really essential?

Some websites use very small fonts for their body text. The users did not know that they could zoom or increase text size, so they simply left the website. Silly design decisions such as very small fonts will turn visitors away as quickly as they came!


Anyway readers, I hope this quick post has been of interest. If you have had any similar experiences of working with the older generation I would be interested in hearing from you.

Posted byCharlie M at 04:43  


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