Designing for the elderly and disabled

6 years ago from , Engineer at Microsoft

Hi everyone. I'm starting a new web project, and I've realized a good portion of my users will be older individuals, perhaps with mild disabilities such as poor eyesight. I've been searching for examples of complex web applications that are designed with this audience in mind. For example, some web apps that I think semi-fit this description are FarmLogs or Nextdoor.



  • Tristam GochTristam Goch, 6 years ago

    We built a web app for Parkinson's patients (60+, reduced mobility) recently and have had a ton of great feedback. My advice is follow guidelines from w3/WCAG, do a bunch of reading (NNgroup has some great stuff), then test with your audience and really listen to them. Following guidance from products that already exist can only take you so far, because the majority don't do a good job of serving these audiences.

    As an example of the sort of surprising things that can come up in testing: our first pass on the UI was pretty chunky to accommodate the recommended large click targets. Following testing we got a lot of feedback that the UI felt childish and patronising, something we hadn't considered at all as being important.

    15 points
    • Bruno AbattiBruno Abatti, 6 years ago

      I recently did a app for Parkinson’s patients (mostly senior users) as well. I agree with Tristam — read a lot and pay attention to W3/WACG guidelines and the NNgroup. Also, I used as reference the accessibility posters the people from gov.uk made a while ago. It was super helpful.

      In summary:

      • Typography. Make sure your type size is big enough and the weight is heavy enough for specific usage — avoid using weights lighter than regular;
      • Colour. Pay close attention to the use of colour, more importantly the contrast between text and background — I recommend using the Stark Sketch plugin or Color Safe for making sure your contrast is great;
      • Buttons. Clickable must be big enough;

      Even though it appears that you’re going to design a web app, I’ll link some of my screens just in case. It’s in portuguese, but you’ll get it. Link

      Hope it helps.

      3 points
  • Mac PankiewiczMac Pankiewicz, 6 years ago

    Everything what you're looking for is here: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG/ and https://www.w3.org/WAI/WCAG20/quickref/

    Understand and follow standards. Define and build accessibility guidelines into for your project.

    6 points
  • Harris ThompsonHarris Thompson, 6 years ago

    Note that the elderly like to increase the text size on their browsers or zoom in so make sure your design works for that, typography in particular.

    2 points
  • Jacob JJacob J, 6 years ago

    I'd definitely pay close attention to accessibility and make your font choices legible and large.

    I'm kind of on the opposite spectrum, im going to be designing a site for much younger users. Sorry to hijack, but does anyone have an suggestions for that?

    0 points
  • Renato Valdes OlmosRenato Valdes Olmos, 6 years ago

    Head of Design at Honor here. Great suggestions in this thread. Happy to provide additional insights -> renn at joinhonor dot com

    0 points