During the early days of the Internet, it was assumed that older people would be slow in adopting to new technology and media, and were not likely to engage with your brand online. However, that prediction hasn’t panned out as today’s Boomers have turned that myth upside down.
More than 50% of Boomers have a smartphone and the vast majority are online everyday doing a variety of everyday tasks – social media, online retail, banking, consuming news and entertainment to name a few. They are also researching products and services more often than not on a tablet or smartphone. With yesterday’s release of the larger and faster iPhone 6, a new upgrade cycle will be begin and more Boomers will be visiting your site from a mobile device. The big question – are you ready? If not, then it is time to change your web mindset to “mobile first.”
Mobile first is a design and user experience (UX) philosophy that drives the UX development process. For those unfamiliar with user experience, it boils down to mapping the needs of your users against the goals of your business, and creating paths that drive engagement and action. The action could be anything from an email sign-up or social follow to actual purchase. With the trend of more people accessing the web from mobile device, marketers must think about the experience the visitor finds when using a tablet or smartphone.
Many marketers are familiar with the concept of responsive design where the web site elegantly adjusts to the form factor of the device of the user. For many companies a great responsive site is a better option than the creation of a native mobile app. Additionally, you have to be mindful that many will be coming to your site from a mobile device when they open an email or come to you from Facebook or Twitter, which are becoming primarily mobile platforms.
Responsive design is great, but marketers need to take it a step further. Users interact with websites differently, depending on the accessing device. Tablets are routinely showing higher conversion rates vs. websites in some shopping categories. Mobile first is a designing mindset. It is not that mobile is more important, but because mobile has the most restrictions, it makes sense to start with mobile and add to it for the full web site design. If you start with the desktop web site, the mobile experience ends up looking like an inferior experience. Often you get an over-designed web that loads slowly and is clunky to use on a mobile device.
We’ve been designing with a mobile first mindset for over two years and here are a few tips to designing for Boomers:
Ease of use and site functionality are paramount; menus must be clear and labeled. Use common and consistent icons and familiar graphical elements to provide feedback to the user.
Colors should be bold and simple and not overwhelm a smartphone screen. Use larger fonts to ease the strain on Boomer eyes.
Incorporate the use of video to increase engagement
Make button large and easy to read, same with social share buttons
Stack forms clearly when designing the smart phone version; and make the forms and landing pages easy to fill out with large field openings.
Keep your whole digital ecosystem in mind especially when driving people to your web site from other media. It’s critical to have mobile enabled landing pages and pre populate forms to reduce the amount of data input.
Analysts expect Apple to sell between 60 and 70 million new iPhones by the end of 2014 and Boomers will be snapping up their share. Is your web site ready for their visit?