Securing an Online Advantage

Who’s using the Internet?

Statistics show that the rate of Internet use has been rising for all ages, and older adults are now among the fastest growing groups of Internet users. In the four years between 1997 and 2001, Internet penetration tripled among Americans between ages 55 to 65 and increased six-fold among 75 year olds. Today, roughly 33 million of the 78 million Americans age 50 and older are already online. Within the next year or two, three-quarters of all 55 year olds will be online, along with half of all 65 year olds, and nearly one-third of 75 year olds.

While the percentage of older customers online still lags behind the general population, once online, older customers tend to spend more time there than younger people. A survey conducted by SeniorNet found that more than two-thirds of all older adults/customers who had access to the Internet spent more than 10 hours a week online, and one-third spent more than 20 hours a week.

As older adults/customers become more comfortable with the Internet and integrate it into their lives, they will expect more of the information and services they demand to be available online.

Make Your Site Friendly

We believe the most successful companies in Ecommerce will be dominated by those that reduce the FQ (Frustration Quotient) while elevating the PQ (Pleasure Quotient). You should design your site for maximum usability. Many sites don’t respond to the realities of aging and often champion innovative design over clarity. The user is more likely to be frustrated than impressed. He or she may or may not have intuitive sense to navigate such a site. Frustrated users typically don’t return.

Credibility is Important and can be increased with high quality graphics, good writing and use of outbound hypertext links (projects that authors have done their homework and not afraid to refer readers to other sites). Give older adults/customers the facts; they detest hyperbole.

We also know how users read the website – they don’t!  They scan the page picking out individual words and sentences. You should design your site for maximum usability considering physical changes. Ten million American have low vision or functional vision loss and 60% are over the age of 55. Also eyestrain and fatigue is a reality and by age 65 some can’t focus, have reduced field of vision, difficulty in resolving images, distinguish colors, adapting to changes in light and are sensitive to glare.

The need for contrast increases, clouding, cataracts or yellowing reduces amount of light passing through the eye and yellowing also reduces violet light registered by the eye. As we age we loose some of our color perception; it’s harder to see blues, greens and violets (colors may blend). Also motor skills may be impaired.

When Designing Your Website Consider

Layout, style, images used, color, fonts, general usability, accessibility and disabilities. Is the background attractive without interfering with the information?  Are the colors easy to see and distinguish?  Is the text a good color, size and font?  Do the pages load quickly enough?  Are the pages on the site the same style throughout?  Are the buttons (icons) large and clear enough?  Are the pages and information clearly labeled?  Does each page have easy-to-use menus?

Is the information easy to find and understand?  Are the words common to everyday language (jargon is a no no)?  Is there plenty of help available in accessible ways?  Are instructions understandable and do they have illustrations?

If the Internet is not yet a part of your marketing communications mix, it should be. You can begin with small steps, but now is the time to get going. The Internet has become  a mainstream channel of communication for most Americans, and any company that does not have a robust Internet strategy is missing a key element in its marketing and communications campaigns. Chances are your competitors are online.

Web Site Design Basics

Design
 

  1. Is the background attractive without interfering with the information?
  2. Are the colors easy to see and distinguish?
  3. Is the text a good color, size and font?
 
Layout
 

  1. Do the pages load quickly enough?
  2. Are the pages on the site of a consistent style?
  3. Are the buttons large and clear enough?
  4. Are the pages and information clearly labeled?
  5. Does each page have easy-to-use menus?
 
Content
 

  1. Is the information easy to find and understand?
  2. Are the words common to everyday language?
  3. Is there plenty of help available and easily accessible?
  4. Can the user tell who is sponsoring the page?
  5. Do searches result in enough (but not too many) hits?
  6. Are instructions illustrated and understandable?
 
Multi-media
 

  1. Are graphics useful, pleasant and easy to recognize?
  2. Is audio clear, useful and non-intrusive?
 
 
What Older Customers Do Online
 
  • Stay in touch with family and friends:          94%
  • Follow news and current events:       72%
  • Research health information:             70%
  • Make purchases:         55%
  • Research products and services to purchase offline:            55%
  • Research or check stocks or investments:     38%
  • Perform investment transactions:      13%
 

 

 

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