Designing an accessible website for older Australians

image of aged care website on laptop, tablet and mobile screens beneath web excellence award logo


The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) is Australia’s national regulator of aged care services. Their website is aimed at 3 primary audiences:

  1. People receiving aged care – This audience wants concise information about their rights and the quality of care they should receive. This allows them to make informed decisions, including making complaints.
  2. Aged care providers – Providers need to understand their responsibilities when reporting to the Commission. They need to understand their obligations to those in their care. This includes notifying serious incidents, complying with legislation and following quality standards.
  3. Aged care workers – This audience needs easy access to training and resources that support them in their frontline role.


The old website contained many pages and resources that had been added over time. As the Commission’s role grew, the volume of content increased. However, there had not been a strategic approach to building out the site’s structure. This meant the website was hard to use and content difficult to find.

Defining the problem

At the start of the project, we did research aiming to understand the pain points of users, and opportunities to improve their experience.

We conducted interviews and focus groups with people from the 3 target audiences. We asked participants:

  • why they visit the website
  • whether the website meets their needs.

​​​We also asked for opinions on the website’s tone, navigation, readability, branding, and look and feel.

We performed affinity mapping on the huge amount of feedback we received. This helped us to identify common themes.

The key goal

Our research uncovered a key goal: raising the site’s accessibility and readability. This aspect was consistent across content, navigation and design.

Each audience group also presented their own unique challenges for us to solve.

  • People receiving aged care said that the large quantity of information, written in a formal tone, was a barrier to using the website. This equated to exclusion of certain groups, such as people with English as a second language, older people with cognitive issues, people with vision impairments, and people with literacy skills in the lower percentile.
  • Aged care providers, who are time poor, struggled to find essential updates on the website. Unclear navigation and duplicated information meant that discovering single sources of truth took time and effort.
  • Aged care workers’ needs were not represented in the navigation. The website didn’t provide tailored content for them. They had to dig deep to find relevant information.

The challenge lay in addressing these issues without compromising the integrity of the Commission as a compliance-based regulatory entity.

image of the aged care website on a laptop screen

Our solutions

Drawing on our research with focus groups, we placed the user at the core. We aimed to transform the existing website with major enhancements to navigation, content, search and design.

Site navigation

We developed a new, simplified information architecture to improve usability and reflect the diversity of audiences.

The new information architecture helps users navigate the complexity of aged care by highlighting tasks and simplifying processes into steps.

  • We developed labels and categories that demystify and personalise information.
  • We reduced the length of menus, headings and navigation tabs.
  • We created landing pages with large tiles for ease of navigation.
  • We presented items logically so that users can find what they need.

We demystified the complaints process. Making a complaint is one of the top user tasks, but it is difficult for many users who need clarification on the process. We used inclusive language, simplified instructions and clear wayfinding.

Branding and design

  • We used the font Fira Sans Bold to give headings more impact.
  • We used icons to assist with navigation, draw attention and communicate complex ideas.
  • We used white space to differentiate sections and create a calmer look and feel.
  • We adhered to the principle that ‘less is more’ and looked for ways to reduce the cognitive load on users.


We conducted an extensive content audit of around 250 web pages and 300 documents hosted on the old site.

The audit filtered content through audience types and user needs. It made recommendations for archiving, deleting or merging pages.

The audit allowed us to reduce the total page count to around 200. We identified redundant pages and merged or archived duplicate pages. We converted long PDF guides to simplified web pages for maximum accessibility.

We achieved an average Grade 7 (12-13 years old) reading level across all pages to reach the most users. We worked closely with stakeholders during this process. This process ensured that complex regulatory information wasn’t diluted or devalued with over-simplified language.

Testing our work

Once we’d implemented our solutions, we tested the beta site with the target audiences.

We developed a guide containing essential user tasks. The tasks tested how the target audiences perceived, navigated and used the beta site.

We aimed to see if our visualisation of the new information architecture made sense to our target audiences.

The beta site tested successfully and validated our original findings and recommendations.

  • The home page was well received, with the large modules drawing attention.
  • Users found the layout to be clear, simple and logical.
  • Users felt the text was readable and informative.
  • The revamped Complaints information received positive feedback.
  • The tiles on the home page and landing pages were well received since they clearly defined the different audiences and tasks.

We launched the redeveloped Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission website on 13 November 2023.

At Icon, we’re proud to have played a part in designing this valuable resource.

Collaborating closely with the client, we’ve helped to improve a critical service for older Australians, strengthening the future of these valued members of our community.

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