How to avoid losing one million website customers with inclusive digital design

older people are using mainstream digital services so make sure your website works for them

In our recent webinar Dementia and Inclusive Digital Design, we shared examples of how the BBC, NHS and other organisations and companies are catering for an ageing audience by using thoughtful web design. In coming years the UK could have more than a million people with dementia. But we're now living in a digital age - which means that many people with dementia or Alzheimers are still likely to be banking, shopping and using services online.

Web designers - and the people who pay them - need to be mindful of not turning customers away with inaccessible design.  Many websites don't currently cater for such an audience and will be losing customers, including those people with dementia and Alzheimers who are using technology for communicating, banking, shopping and much more.

When you're spending lots of money on your website there are many good business reasons why you should make sure your website works for as many people as possible.  The universal design principles that AbilityNet promote mean that by thinking about customers with specific needs your website works better for everyone to use - and an easy to use website is better for every business.

Making reasonable adjustments so that your site is inclusive is also a legal requirement. We work with the likes of Barclays, Heathrow Airport, the FA and many others to ensure their sites meet globally agreed standards - reducing the risk of legal problems as well as delivering better services for every customer.

Here are some quick best practice tips on digital design for dementia from accessibility expert Lily Williams. Remember it's easier and cheaper to build in accessibility from the start.

1. Recognisable links

Make links easy to recognise, ie underline style and be specific about what you're linking to in the link text. Don't write 'click here', write 'click here to go shopping' for example.

2. Be descriptive

Explain buttons and forms etc, with a little detail. If someone misses out a section on a form, give details in your error box. Ie, say ' please enter your first name', not 'please select a value'.

3. 'Remember me' passwords

Give a 'remember me' password option so that people who easily forget have the option to get their username and password automatically pop up for them.

4. Clear home link

Put the home link, written as 'home' or 'homepage', on top left hand of screen, where most people expect it to be. If people get confused about where they are on the site, they can easily navigate home.

5. Carousel pause button

If you do use a carousel to display images on your home page then make sure it can be paused and stopped. This means your customers can take time to consider what option they want, and not feel confused by continually revolving options.

Essentially, the main points are to make navigation super easy, enabling people to see where they are within the site/ page and what actions they've already carried out. See the webinar for more tips. 

Useful resources

Check out our more detailed tips on making your website dementia accessible.

Are you supporting someone with dementia and would like some help with how to make the most of technology? Call our free helpline on 0800 269 545.