Older Adults Accessibility Issue 5: Peripheral Vision

Posted by Paul Crichton on 27 June 2017.

“I don’t always notice things changing on the screen.

It should be obvious.”

Peripheral vision in all people is surprisingly worse than you probably realise. Only about 1% of what you can see can be considered as high definition – the rest of your visual field is pretty low definition. As we get older, our field of useful vision narrows.

Peripheral vision helps us to see changes on a screen in areas that we are not focusing on. As our field narrows, the likelihood of missing content updates, error messages and so on increases.

Does your website have a problem?

Check for changes to the web page that might happen outside of a users focus area. For forms, if you are not displaying error messages next to the relevant input element but at the top of the form, then make sure that they are brought into the viewport. Adding icons also helps – certainly don’t rely on simply changing the colour of the labels or input element borders.


In a previous section, we said that movement on a page was a bad thing because it distracted users from the task at hand. Using a small amount of animation for important error messages for example, can be a good way drawing the users eye to something they have to know.

How to make things better

Make sure that important information is front and centre. Make error messages obvious by using both colour and conventional icons.

Back to introduction

Next: Older adult accessibility issue 6: Mystery Icons


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