5 design tips to reach the over-50s

Today’s over-50s represent significant buying power, with money to spend and time to spend it. But although 60 may be the new 40, there are still some changes, such as an increase in long-sightedness, that are helpful to consider. Here’s our top five design tips for reaching this valuable audience:

1. Typography

Typeface

Use clear, sans serif typefaces with consistent stroke widths and large x-heights (the height of the lowercase letters, relative to the height of the uppercase letters), and keep the number of fonts you use to a minimum. Avoid decorative or script styles, and emphasise with bold; did you know that italics are 18 per cent harder to read than Roman type?

Type size

A generous type size is obvious, but how big is big? The RNIB ’s ‘Clear Print’ guidelines suggest at least 12pt text, on 14pt leading, to avoid letters appearing to run together. This applies to Arial only – don’t forget that 12pt in one font is a different size to 12pt in another. Always compare back to 12pt Arial to check size and clarity. Line spacing of 1.5 or double will also improve clarity.

2. Layout

Avoid long swathes of text – reading lengthy copy can be tiring for people with low vision. Instead, be concise, break copy into smaller sections, and direct your reader with subheadings, lists and boxed content.

Text should be left-aligned, instead of justified, to help the eye find and move to the next line easily. Avoid hyphenating words at the end of a line – push the word to the next line instead (you should be doing this anyway!).

3. Colour

Include as much white space as you can, to avoid tiring eyes, but never use white (or reverse) type. High contrast colours, and ideally black text on a light background, are best.

4. Images

Resist using photographic effects, such as sepia or blurring, unless absolutely necessary. And never put text on top of an image – it’s harder to read.

5. Print

Use a matte finish rather than gloss, to avoid annoying reflections, and steer clear of complicated folding mechanisms. A bright white paper stock is also clearer than an off-white option.

Making considered design choices will ensure your communications hit the mark with an older audience.