Are you alienating the fastest-growing web demographic, the one that actually has money to spend?
According to a 2013 study conducted by Google and Ispos, seniors and Baby Boomers spend 19 hours a week online versus 16 hours watching television. Internet time also clobbers activities such as listening to the radio and reading newspapers/magazines.
While market share of older audiences on the web is growing, Shawn Henry, education and outreach lead at W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), believes that the user experience for this group is not keeping up.
“For example, gray text on a light background can be hard for older users to read due to changes in contrast sensitivity and color perception, small click targets can be painful or difficult due to arthritis and tremors, and audio can be hard to understand due to hearing loss,” says Henry. “As we age, most of us have increasing visual, physical, auditory, and cognitive impairments that affect how we interact with computers and websites.”
The good news is that there is a wealth of information to help you craft user experience for the baby-boomer generation – just turn to the accessibility field. Existing WAI accessibility guidelines address the majority of requirements of older Web users. These include:
- Vision. Older users tend to have reduced sensitivity to contrast, lack of color perception and near-focus.
- Physical ability. They may have reduced dexterity, causing problems with things like using a mouse.
- Hearing. They may have difficulty listening to web audio, particularly audio that has background music or other noise.
- Congitive ability. They may find it difficult to follow navigation and complete a task because of reduced short-term memory and concentration issues
Websites and tools that are accessible to people with disabilities, says W3C, are more accessible to older users as well. And designing for older users can make your website flexible to work better for all users of every age. Bonus!
Sound intriguing? Shawn’s WebVisions Chicago session on “Crafting User Experience for the Fastest-Growing Web Demographic: Older Users” will dig deeper, focusing on the top usability issues for older audiences, how to use W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to address the needs of older users, emerging research on making text more readable, and how to create visually appealing, user-customizable designs that work well for a wide range of users.
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