1. Underestimating the senior audience. Seniors are one of the most active and powerful segments of Internet users. The myth that seniors are not Web-savvy or even active online is widespread, and is a major misconception that often results in ineffective Web site design.
  2. Employing bleeding-edge design and technology. Generally, the rule of thumb is the broader the audience, the more conservative the design should be. Developers should take into consideration more platforms (browsers and operating systems) and a much higher percentage of dial-up users, while keeping superfluous bells and whistles to a minimum. Heavy frameworks or large Flash frameworks that can take a long time to download should also be avoided. Also, make sure that you are working with a Web developer that has experience in handling accessibility issues, including strategies for developing Web sites for people with disabilities.
  3. Complex navigation. Navigation is one of the core elements of Web development. It represents how users “turn the page” on the site. Consider the simple user interface used in magazines; readers use a table of contents which corresponds to page numbers. Web interfaces work differently, and in practice, often navigate poorly through the site’s content, requiring the user to learn how to use your particular interface design. Seniors are accustomed to print. Focus on well streamlined navigation, organizing your content and avoiding multi-tiered navigational elements.
  4. Too much text. Most people do not want to read more than a page of copy. Studies show seniors, in particular, want to get right to the point in their search for information. There should be a rhythm to scanning the site’s copy. Make sure your copy is organized in a way that is easy to comprehend with well-designed headings, bullets where appropriate and information that is concise and uncluttered.
  5. Not enough photos. A picture is worth a thousand words. Often, sites that have too much text also tend to skimp on pictures. If you’re worried about removing flowery copy, then replace that copy with great photos. Good photography and graphics help convey your product meaning in a way that text cannot. The key is to achieve the right balance of informative text and imagery.
  6. Small text. When designing a Web site for seniors, stay away from small font sizes and form fields. Consider text sizes at least two points larger than average or including a “text re-sizer” that allows the user to increase the font size on your site.
  7. Low-contrast colors. Colors are a fundamental aspect of design, and the use of color in Web designs can sometimes be a hindrance to usability, particularly with reading small text. Several surveys suggest that mature audiences with decreased eyesight prefer high contrast viewing situations, such as black text on light backgrounds or white text on darker backgrounds. Focus on high-contrasting colors–though not obnoxious ones–throughout the site. Furthermore, make sure your Web developer is considering other factors such as color blindness, which can exacerbate the issue of Web usability. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has an excellent Web usability site, along with good references to pages and tools on accessibility issues.
  8. Non-relevant imagery. Design that is targeting seniors needs to speak to seniors. Seniors are more active than ever, so avoid imagery that shows them bedridden or in a wheelchair. Most seniors see themselves as 10-20 years younger than they are, so choose site imagery that correlates with their self-image.
  9. Non-interactive frameworks. It’s funny how most people consider Web sites to be interactive, whereas in reality, many Web sites are simply brochures on glass. Encourage participation in your product and brand. Enhance your content and design with a framework that promotes activity. Invite users to rate your content, provide comments or forward it to a friend. Many surveys have shown that seniors share meaningful content with their friends quite often. Referrals in the senior living category are worth their weight in gold.
  10. Ignoring questions and objections. Seniors are not going to buy hype or fluff. They undoubtedly will have questions about your product or service. Providing a good Q-and-A section allows you to address curiosity and concern right away and lead the visitor through a more thorough introduction of your product or service.

Source: Walker Marketing