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I'm creating a landing page aimed at 65+ year old demographics in the US. What are the best practices for creating web pages aimed at that audience? Are there special fonts, font size, color palettes or use of images that is advised?

  • In terms of legibility and usability, anything you do for a >65 crowd will also likely benefit a <65 crowd. – DA01 Sep 23 '15 at 20:22
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Text Color & Contrast

Pick a text color that has enough contrast with the background color to be visible to all users. Check the contrast level with the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker site. Avoid pure black (#000) against a white background because that can make letters dance for readers with dyslexia, but #222 (which is slightly lighter than pure black) passes Level AAA when used on a white background. You want to pick a font color that passes the Level AAA for color contrast against its background. Also be conscious of contrast for text in images and text placed on top of a photo background.

Text Size

Browsers default to a 16px font size unless developers specify otherwise. More sites are using this larger size as their default. Smashing Magazine recommended that a few years ago.

Line Height

Make sure to have enough space between each line of text to increase readibility.

Avoid Fonts With Too High X-Height and Avoid All Caps

Text that is in ALL CAPS is harder to read. I was taught that it takes 40% more time to read text that is in all caps than lower case because readers recognize word shapes and words that are in all caps lose their shape. For example: light vs LIGHT, dark vs DARK, smile vs SMILE. Fonts with an x-height that is too tall can look like all caps, thus making word shapes harder to recognize.

Serif vs Sans Serif

This article lists studies of the readability of serif vs sans serif typefaces.

Clickable items

Make your links easy to navigate to. This includes text links and buttons. Notice that the text links I included above have a lot of words in them. The bigger the target, the easier it is to navigate to and click on. See this article on Fitts's Law.

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  • Just a small note about serif/sans serif: unless you use a serif font designed to look good at low resolution (and no, Times New Roman is not) then you should seriously consider to avoid them. It's not just about legibility (what linked article talks about in this case) but for outlooking and eyes fatigue. – Adriano Repetti Sep 24 '15 at 12:05
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Found some good suggestions here: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/making-your-website-senior-friendly and here: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-for-senior-citizens/

I would also add:

  1. Allow font sizes to be changed. Do not prevent them.
  2. Make help easy to find - use tooltips & cover every possible option in your FAQ or help pages.
  3. Be sensitive to older users in your copy. Don't use current slag or jargon.
  4. If you want your site to be used by older people do everything that you can to make it easy to use - simplify and reduce frustration as much as you can.
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