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September 14, 2008

3 Easy Steps to Design a Website for the Boomer Generation:

by Anthony Verre

Designing Sites for Baby Boomers

It’s the market that still seems to be eluding the online marketing world: Boomers. In the last two years, several sites have popped up to court this generation. And, yet, they still can’t find a way to form a real boomer community with them, even though there are, according to the 2000 Census, over 79 million. Sure, many companies are investing heavily into tapping this market, but online, I believe that many still consider this to be a niche group not worth catering to.

Three Boomer Sites Not Up Snuff:

eMarketer predicts that by 2011, over 83% of the Baby Boomer population will be online and active. Logically, and naturally, these folks are going to want a place to congregate. And, whomever can find the right model and design, will own the market. As you can see from the chart, all three sites are below half a million monthly users. So where are they all going?

How To Design a Dynamite Baby Boomer Site:

Just a few quick tips on how to design a site that Boomers may actually want to visit

1. Color Choice is Key:

Studies have shown, and science has proved, that the color blue is actually the hardest color on the eye on the as we age. Moreover, you have think about the psychological implications of the palette you choose, what group of colors best represents that generation. Blue, while being a very gender-neutral color and representing trustworthiness, also represents sadness and the ambient. Physiologically, blue calms and sedates.

Colour perception and sensitivity; less violet light is registered, making it easier to see red and yellows than blues and greens and often making darker blues and black indistinguishable.

Web Accessibility for Older Users: A Literature Review

If you look at three sites listed above, blue dominates the palette. Seems this would be the color to stay away from, right? These sites aren’t banks or financial entities in any sense, so why use blue? What kind of trustworthiness do they have to build, visitor loyalty? Why “calm and sedate” your visitors, seriously?

2. Large, In-Your-Face Text

Not only does body deterioration come with age, but so does eye deterioration. To be honest, I like sites with text bigger than 10 point font, considering I live at the keyboard 60+ hours a week. If your users have to struggle to read the site, then you can bet 99 out 100 times, they’re gone, especially a demographic that has poor eyesight to begin with.

I would stick with no less than a 12 pt. font, possibly in Arial or Tahoma.

3. The Site has to be About Boomers

Of course all three sites are “about” Boomers, but are presented in such a way as if they are selling something to them, rather than a place to commune. I believe the website will have to serve the ego of the Baby Boomer generation, not merely have a name and outer shell that identifies with them.

If you’re following, then the solution to designing the Boomer site is to create a robust social networking site. All they’ll want to do is talk about themselves: photo-sharing, video sharing, blogging, discussions, etc. (after all it’s what they’ve done best the past 50+ years) It doesn’t need to be as globally-integrated to other sites, they won’t use it. They key is to have very easy to use functionality: pick and post. Remember the K.I.S.S. Rule: Keep It Simple Stupid.

No website is going to take over for Ebay or Amazon to serve their commerce needs to buy goods. No website like this going to serve as the “News” station replacement over their local newspaper sites and national news sites. They don’t even want to connect with one another; they just want to talk out loud to everyone else.


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