Life is increasingly going online. It seems every day we are asked to go to websites to conduct business, make appointments and find information. But rarely it seems that creators of website take time to consider how older people, less familiar with computer use, or people with cognitive decline or dementia manage online tasks.
In the development of our campaign website, Forward with Dementia followed international website guidelines for cognitive disability. We also worked with a co-design group to develop the website with people with dementia and their carers.
Once the website was nearing completion, Jacky Zheng (pictured below), a health sciences honours student at the University of Sydney worked with the Forward with Dementia team to test the usability of the website.
Jacky worked with volunteer testers, including five people living with dementia and seven carers. He carefully observed how they navigated the website and found information. He asked the volunteers what they thought of the size and clarity of the font as well as the colours and images used. Finally, he asked the volunteers to attempt a range of tasks including searching for information, printing and emailing an article. The results highlighted there were issues with the usability of the website, and this prompted us to make further changes.
Pictured below are the two versions of the website. Version 1 prior to audience testing, and Version 2, with changes made after testing. In Version 2, the pages of the website were decluttered, navigation around the website was streamlined, and functions were simplified. The volunteers re-tested the website and found dramatic improvements in the usability of the website. We are so grateful to the volunteers for their time and effort. They helped us to improve the usability, user experience and usefulness for others with dementia and their carers.
Importantly, this study highlights the need to include people living with dementia as active user testers not only for websites that target this group, but also websites that people with dementia and older users are likely to use. If you have comments about the website, we’d love to hear about them. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
You can read more about the study in the latest edition of the journal Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology: Exploring the usability, user experience and usefulness of a supportive website for people with dementia and carers
Forward with Dementia website landing page Version 1 (prior to testing).
Forward with Dementia website landing page Version 2 with changes made after testing.