When I create a new website, one of the first things I consider in the design process is the audience. Who is this website for? How old are they? What is their background? These questions are important for any successful site. But once I choose a direction for the design and begin programming the site, I always ask myself one question: What would my grandma think?
Now I’m not saying that I design for my grandma because she is a crotchety Internet user. In fact, she is an Internet-savvy septuagenarian, and she knows more about the Web than some people half her age. What I am saying is there are certain elements of user interface design that may have a more tangible effect on older website visitors than they do on younger ones. These elements include readability, such as font size and line spacing; unnecessary graphics, like long video intros; colors, like choosing a low-contrast color palette, etc.
Looking through my grandma’s eyes adds clarity to my websites in an ever-growing world of online information. A website has a very small window of time to capture a visitor’s attention. This is especially true for websites with a corporate audience. Can you imagine a CEO taking the time to watch a flashy 30-second movie introduction, only to then search through multiple website pages to find the information they are looking for? I can’t, and chances are they won’t
So when I begin the design process, I try and look at the site through my grandma’s eyes. Would she be able to read this block of text without squinting? Would she understand that this image is clickable? Is the navigation easy to use and does it eliminate all confusion?
Since I started using the Grandma Test, my websites have gotten easier to read and quicker to navigate. The result has been that users can focus more time reading the content, and less time trying to figure out where they need to go.
Now, if I can just get Twitter to pass the Grandpa Test!