16 Is The Font Size Of Wisdom (For Web Design At Least)

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The assertion that arts and cultural audiences are getting older and dying out probably reached trope status decades before the word trope entered popular usage.

While this may be true and require programming and market positioning that will appeal to younger audiences, there are some very practical experiential considerations for serving older audiences to keep in mind.  One of them is web design.

Entrepreneur magazine had a guest post by Brian Greenberg discussing some small design changes that make websites more easily used by those over 50.  As you might imagine, readability and logical flow factor heavily among his suggestions. Because his company sells insurance, many of those using their website tend to be older.

He encourages the use of font sizes of 16 and larger. This results in better readability due to the size of the font and the fact that fewer words will appear per line. While it is true that people can zoom into web content, providing a legible experience by default immediately creates a positive impression. ArtsHacker and its Inside the Arts cousins have all used 16 point font size for years now.  Greenberg suggests using even larger font sizes for section headers and reminds people not to forget the font size on buttons and other graphic representations.

He also suggests placing your organization’s phone number prominently at the top and bottom of each page as well as at logical places throughout the content.

“By the time social media came into being, 50-year-olds of today had crossed the age of 30. Their primary source of checking a business’s credibility or even interacting with them is their phone number.”

Removing extraneous content is also important:

• Remove all unnecessary images, banners and GIFs.
• Resist the urge to litter your pages with calls to actions and pop-ups.
• Open all toggled data
• Do away with features that require scrolling

The goal is to display just the material needed and make it easy navigate your sales funnel.

If you provide the opportunity to purchase season subscriptions online and there are a number of steps or a decision tree of choices, you will probably want to heed Greenberg’s advice to use arrows and step by step instructions. Showing people what step they are on seems particularly wise.

One of the critical features of readability is step-by-step instructions or a guide that gently walks you through the routine. While this goes for just about everyone reading content online, it is particularly true for people over the age of 50; they will skim, not read.

In my insurance business, we often collect applications that contain up to 10 pages of questions. We include what step the customer is on at the top of every page and highlight the back and continue buttons. The older generation can quickly get stuck, and when this happens, we lose the sale.

Include arrows on where to click next to continue the process and add a few sentences on why you are asking the questions. Make it easy for visitors to ask for help via phone or live chat when they get stuck.

His last suggestion deals with some face to face chatting apps and proposal presentations which are a little more specific to the insurance business. But if you do have complicated interactions or want to include a video chat feature with your box office, you may want to read up on the tools he suggests.

While these suggestions are specifically focused on addressing the needs of the over 50 crowd, I suspect they will make web interactions easier and cleaner for everyone.

About Joe Patti

In addition to writing for ArtHacker, I have been writing the blog, Butts in the Seats (buttsseats.com) since 2004.
I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)
I am currently the Director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University. Across my career I have worked at University of Hawaii-Leeward Community College, University of Central Florida, Asolo Theater, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Appel Farm Arts and Music Center and numerous other places both defunct and funky.

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1 thought on “16 Is The Font Size Of Wisdom (For Web Design At Least)

  1. You are so right! And it is also true for print communication, e.g. brochures for donors etc. MAKE ROOM on those forms and print everything LEGIBLE. And presentations! Check from the tenth row if you can read those words on the screen …

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