Is Your Website Design Boomer Friendly?

Senior Citizen using ipadFirst let me start by saying I am a former yellow page salesman.  There, I said it!  Done!  Now that I’ve come clean, let me tell you why I found the need to disclose my past.In 2008 things in our industry started to really go down hill fast.  I remember a conference call with our President of Sales who called it the “Perfect Storm”.  A dwindling economy spurred by a busted housing bubble, combined with new technology like smart-phones and tablets , made things difficult for us yellow page people.

At the time I was managing a small sales team and almost daily I would get some kind of email with an attachment or link to some study showing why yellow pages were still relevant.  My reps were desperate for anything that would help them to overcome client objections so I fed the information to them like chum to sharks. Of all the information and data coming out regarding the internet vs. yellow pages, there was one main demographic that seemed immune to internet marketing strategies…baby boomers.

“So Mr. Customer, you say you want to target baby boomers because they have more disposable income and can afford your services?  So why are you putting all your money into web marketing?  My Aunt doesn’t even know how to text let alone use a smartphone or tablet.”   This is what we would say to business owners day in and day out.   According to one study we had, 86% of people over the age of 50 use yellow pages as their primary resource to find a local business.  Meanwhile, I complained to my 60 year old father-in-law (as he checked his stocks on his mini-laptop) that these business owners don’t know what they are doing.  Hmmmm.

So today, a few short years later,  as I sit in a local coffee shop updating business listings for a client as part of my new web marketing business, I look up and smile.  I smile because I am not surrounded by tech-savvy millennials as one might think to be while enjoying  a latte at a trendy coffee joint.  In fact, at 40 years old I might possibly be the youngest person in here.  I smile because directly across from me is a lovely lady, who appears confident in her older age as she scrolls on her iPad, and   I remember the countless number of times I used the “boomers don’t know tech” line to sell yellow page ads.

Guess what?  It’s time to start rethinking your website design marketing strategies if you haven’t already.  According to a recent study (there I go again with the studies) 6 in 10 seniors now go online.  So what’s the point?  The point is, times are changing and it’s important to have a website that is reflective of an ever changing society.  Mind blown?  Probably not, but don’t dismiss the obvious.

In order to increase conversions through your website one needs to first ask, “Is my site easy to find?  Every day I talk to business owners who have no clue where their website ranks compared to their category competitors.   They assume people will just magically find them.  Investing in a little time to update your website title tags and meta description can really help to improve your ranking.  Especially if your business is not in a highly competitive search category.  Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to help you find what keywords people are really searching for.

Second ask yourself, “Is my website design easy to navigate?”  Sure, your site might look great!  Your web designer probably got some kind of award for creative brilliance.  However, if your customers can’t figure out how to find your product or even find your contact information why bother?  Try not to overload your site with a lot of confusing images and links.  Have a clear call to action with easy to read text.  Remember those boomers?  They are not interested in reading through lots of small text that only exists to take up space.  Go by the ‘ol rule “less is more” if you want to capture and convert more visitors.

Regular vs. Mobile Website

Regular vs. Mobile Website

Third question to ask is, “how does my website design look on a smart-phone.  This is important because as of January, according to PewResearch, 58% of all american adults have a smart-phone.  Even more surprising to me is that 42% of American adults own a tablet computer.  This number is only going to increase as more and more people ditch their laptops for more convenient devices.

Take a look at the image to the right and compare it to how your site looks on a phone.  Does it look like A or B?  If it looks like A, you are potentially missing out on customers that don’t want to take the time or chance of hitting the wrong link by resizing your site on their device.  Chances are, they just hit the back button and choose a new site.  If it looks like B, congrats!  You are taking the right steps to market your site to a wider audience including all those baby boomers I’ve been talking about.

Many web designers and CMS platforms now offer websites that automatically format for any type of browsing device.  So choosing to stand by a website that is not smart-phone or tablet compatible is like standing by that old water heater.  Sure it gets the job done.  You’ve got hot water.  But what about all that extra money you’re losing each month in energy costs?  Bad analogy?  Maybe.  You might not know it (you would with analytics ) but you are losing money with the old site.

In conclusion, if you want to market your services to an ever increasing audience on the web, it’s important that your website is user-friendly for people of all ages.  Websites that deliver good content in a user-friendly manner will convert at a higher rate and produce more sales for your company.

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