The Greatest Generation Goes Mobile: Optimizing for Senior Citizens

When we offer suggestions to our clients on how to best optimize their mobile website, accessibility (and thus, ease of purchase) is usually the main concern. However, accessibility can mean very different things to different people, and especially to different age groups.

Retailers who find older people in their core consumer group must endeavor to make mobile sites accessible even to those with age-related disabilities, lest they find themselves losing sales to retailers who take the time to do so.

A 2014 study, “Accessibility To Mobile Interfaces For Older People” reviews different mobile applications that can be used to make a mobile phone interface more accessible. Authors Diaz-Bossini and Moreno test the various applications against an accessibility checklist, and then rate how they perform. While the study itself is interesting, we focus on the checklist against which they rated the mobile applications.

The checklist is a version of “38 Senior Friendly Usability Guidelines” that has been adapted for mobile phone use, and is brimming with actionable ideas that retailers can implement in their mobile sites. Retailers who cater to older customers should test their own mobile site against these principles, and improve it where they can. Accessibility can be the difference between a potential customer making a purchase or leaving the mobile site in frustration.

The full study can be viewed here, but we have shared some of the more unexpected optimizations with you.

Clicking:
Clicking issues can occur when a customer is suffering from an age related disability like arthritis, which can limit mobility and dexterity.

  • Target capture needs to be obvious, not subtle.
  • Instances where one needs to double click should be avoided.
  • Scroll bars should also be avoided.

Windows:

  • Multiple open windows should not be needed while on the site. Keep everything on one window.
  • Concentrate information in the center of the screen.

Colors:

  • Use as little blue and green as possible.
  • Do not use a bright white background.

Ease of Buying:
This was not included in the list, but we are adding it for our online retailers. It is essential to make the path to a purchase as simple and as easy as possible for your customers. One of the best ways to do this is to make it possible for your customer to purchase in just a couple of clicks by using a service like Google Wallet Instant Buy or PayPal Express Checkout. Use these, and you will have a lower attrition rate of customers dropping out of the buying process because they grew weary of entering their credit card information on a tiny screen.  This tip goes for every type of retailer, not just those who focus on older consumers.

Ultimately, these suggestions should help not only older users to better navigate your mobile site, but should facilitate transactions with younger users who have to click and scroll less. A mobile site that is difficult to navigate and buy from will result in less conversions than a mobile site that takes accessibility into consideration.