Much has been written about the buying power of baby boomers and older adults. For example, Visa conducted a study that highlighted how their spending outpaced all other generations, and will do so for the next 5-10 years. However, there is less discussion about how to cater website experiences to their needs and preferences, especially as they age.
As an ecommerce marketer who helps manage a site that caters to older demographics, I’ve compiled a list of tips on how to craft a boomer-friendly experience without alienating younger audiences.
Adhere to ADA Accessibility Standards Within Your Site Design
It’s a good idea for all sites to cater to American Disability Act guidelines, or else you are vulnerable to legal action. However, this is especially applicable to sites that cater to baby boomers, as they are at the age at which eyesight fades. There are specialized services that will audit your site for ADA adherence, but some general accessibility best practices include:
- Embracing sharply contrasting colors, especially regarding text
- Avoid text that is too visually embellished or small to be universally legible
- Images and videos should have text-based descriptions
- Use clear calls-to-actions rather than vague language (ex: click here for pricing vs. learn more)
Minimize Visual Clutter – Too Many Calls to Actions or Graphics
Too many links in the top navigation or busy visuals will overwhelm users regardless of their age, but this is especially true of older audiences.
- Use a light hand when applying website animations – What may be cool or modern to your web developer can come across as confusing to users.
- Avoid drop-down menus within your top navigation – Easier said than done, especially when you have thousands of pages. However, complicated navigation that leads to sub-menus can be trickier to interact with, especially for older adults.
- Limit the number of calls-to-action visible on the screen at once, instead making those few visually standout – Download this guide! Save this product for later! Subscribe for more information! Chat with a sales representative! Throw too many options at older shoppers, and you risk causing confusion.
- Simplify steps as much as possible – If you use forms, only collect the information you absolutely need. Additionally, be precise with the language describing the form fields as much as possible.
Make Traditional Contact Information Easily Accessible
While younger generations show an increasing preference for the instant gratification of chatbots and social messaging for their customer service needs, older adults place a premium on human-to-human interactions. With this in mind:
- Place your phone number so it’s easy to find – baby boomers in particular will not tolerate having to hunt for such information. Above all else, don’t ask them to jump through hoops by asking them to scan your FAQ section to find their answer, first.
- Humanize your chat bot experience – my team uses the chat box function for those customers who prefer this method of two-way communication. To make it more personable, we add our names and photos to convey that, yes, the user is talking to a human rather than a program.
Writing the Right Content and Striking the Right Tone
As marketers, we come across countless statistics that highlight the limited attention span of audiences. However, many of these studies fail to acknowledge that older adults are outliers. They are inclined to dive into educational content and watch videos for longer, as well as to do general upfront research before making purchases. Therefore, invest in top-of-funnel content with quality that earns their trust.
Other tips for writing content for baby boomers:
- No slang or trendy references
- Opt for clarity over cleverness
- Avoid language that could be perceived as aggressive or pushy
- Let your personality shine through
Be Transparent With Both Your Brand and Products
Baby boomers want to know who they’re buying from, so put extra thought into your About Us page and related messaging. For example, my company placed a letter from the owner directly onto our homepage accompanied by a photograph and signature. Similarly, we created a slideshow that displays how our products are made. Small touches such as these go a long way to earning the trust of all web visitors, but especially baby boomers.
The spirit of transparency and personal ownership should echo throughout the digital experience. When writing articles, display the author and their bio. Product pages should be heavy with details, empowering baby boomers to learn and make informed decisions.
Relatedly, user generated content works wonders when building your credibility among older shoppers. Prioritize collecting reviews, particularly those with photographs.
BONUS TIP: Test Your Website Experience With Older Adults
My company regularly conducts exercises in which we record (older) testers completing assigned tasks, all the while hearing their opinions. These user testing exercises have helped us understand which parts of the page they focus on, as well as their barriers to conversion.
Combine the above-mentioned best practices with your own data-driven insights to nurture an online experience that resonates with older adults. Serve the needs of baby boomers, and your bottom line will reap the rewards.
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