Is Your Website Dementia Friendly?
Use Of Content
From the first pages your website needs to have clear objectives and reason.
Printable versions of necessary pages are always useful. Key examples would include menus or directions. Not only is this useful for dementia friendly website design but it’s good practice generally. People in general are more likely to keep you in mind if they have something to take away with them.
If your site is directly aimed for people with dementia then keep the writing this way. Don’t write for people who are caring for your audience unless you are specifically creating a section around “caring for someone with dementia”. Not only can it leave your reader feeling isolated but it doesn’t help with the stereotypes of people living with dementia being helpless.
- Use simple English, why over complicate your language?
- Keep it obvious. Always be reiterating the main goal and avoid generic language. For example the page title “About” may become “About Our Organisation”.
- Keep information printable, these can be separate pages but make sure this is clear.
- Content must be clear and easy to find within each page.
Keep a simple navigation menu visible at all times. People generally are reassured when the know how to get back to the homepage and when dementia is involved it helps if a breadcrumb/route trail is left aswell.
Tablets are becoming more and more common with the older generations and your website must be able to adapt for this. These days most households will have an iPad or and equivalent. This being said can your website adapt for a portrait screen? Not only is it a feature that demonstrates a modern organisation but for some a landscape display is much preferred.
Make your content easily shared. People are always part of a community whether it be online or offline and you need people to share their findings. “Print page” buttons and “Share on Facebook” links are a great way to start. Why not have links to pre-existing communities? It’s similar to having a Facebook group of your customers but instead it shows your connection to your audience/market in a neutral ground.
- Keep the route navigation (breadcrumbs) clearly visible.
- Make hyperlinks extra clear.
- Keep mobile menus for phones only, hiding them in a “show/hide menu” button (hamburger icon) on tablets and PC’s is never good practice.
- Make social media links clear to help boost your sites visibility and show your connection with online communities.
- Clear subtitles within pages boost the navigation within individual pages and make for a far easier reading experience.
Fonts & Language
Though often seen as plain and simple – sans serifs are widely seen as the best for displaying online content. The minimal format means that regardless of the font size they are clearly visible to those with dementia and a lot less likely to be misread.
Keep your wording simple and try to avoid abbreviations, acronyms and even subtle pop culture references. Even references to previous sentences/ paragraphs must be clearly understandable without the need of backtracking.
- Don’t abbreviate, use acronyms or make unclear references.
- Use clear fonts that will easily adapt to different type sizes and devices.
Use a clear sans serif font and stick to it, (changes in font can be misleading).
Images increase the chances of your article being shared and help break up large amounts of text, however they can be highly distracting for those with dementia. We find the best results come from the use of really obvious images, close ups and nothing too busy. The last kind of image you would want use would be that of a busy town centre with lots of different faces. In fact it’s wise to steer clear of pictures of people unless absolutely necessary, for example an article directly about someone. In which case the image should be clearly labelled, don’t take for granted that the article should make it clear who the image is of – it may not be so be clear.
- Nothing too busy, nothing that can distract or confuse
- Images must be highly relevant to the article.
- Only use pictures of people when absolutely necessary and clearly caption who they are and their relevance to the article.
Finally – Keep it grounded!
The last thing anyone wants to do is over work the situation and make their site come across offensive. No-ones website is going to be absolutely perfect for everybody’s needs, it’s just not practical. However be friendly and show where your good intentions lie. Why not even add a section for people who suffer with dementia to give their suggestions? Their feedback could prove essential.