Senior Citizens (Ages 65 and older) on the Web

2nd Edition

Report PDF cover image

Seniors (ages 65 and older) are one of the fastest growing demographics on the Web. However, our usability studies show that websites are 43% harder to use for seniors as they are for younger users. For example, their decreased motor skills make clicking small links more difficult.

This 216-page report offers 106 design guidelines based on our usability research. Discussions and over 75 screenshot illustrations supplement our findings.

Article on research findings: Seniors as Web Users

Topics covered

  • Common online activities that seniors perform
  • How the elderly approach technology
  • Performance, tendencies, and behaviors compared to younger web users
  • History of web usage and computer learning, and how it affects current behaviors
  • Physical and cognitive traits that affect web usage
    • Discomfort in trying new things on the web (45% of seniors exhibited this trait)
    • Self-blame versus system-blame
    • Web-wide search (Seniors  use search far more than younger users)
    • Giving up and leaving a site is higher among seniors than younger audiences (62% versus 38%, respectively)
  • Recommendations for making your website easier and more engaging for seniors
    • Homepages that capture seniors’ attention, in both the layout and content areas
    • Search design that makes finding information easy
    • Navigation considerations for the elderly who have diminished cognitive and motor skills: why it’s important to make changes infrequently
    • Content and web formatting techniques that  help older people process information
    • Text and styles that accommodate people’s diminished eyesight
    • Make finding and buying items simple for the elderly
    • Forms that are easy to complete and not error-prone
    • Ways to reduce  the number of  forms to help seniors
    • Web address (URL) and browser considerations
  • Methodology: how to  conduct your own usability studies with seniors
    • Writing usability study  tasks for seniors
    • Differences between facilitating test sessions with seniors and  younger counterparts

Example guideline

One of the report’s 106 design recommendations: explain ‘standard’ web terminology for seniors

What's new with the second edition?

The second edition contains many new recommendations, increasing from 46 to 106, based on additional user research.

Research method

The information in this report is based on two rounds of usability research with participants 65 -89 years old. We used two different research methods:

  • Quantitative studies, in which we compared task success, errors, and timing between seniors and a control group of users between the ages of 21 and 55
  • One-on-one usability testing, in which we observed what helped or hindered seniors as they attempted to complete a set of tasks a variety of websites

We conducted studies in participants’ homes, offices, senior centers, or our testing labs.

Seniors tested 43 websites. The studies took place in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia.


Research Reports


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