UX for Baby Boomers | The Sterling Woods Group

Last week we covered the ins and outs of creating a stellar user experience for the Millennial generation. Today, we turn our attention to the generation with the largest population: Baby Boomers.

Born between 1946 and 1964, as of 2016 (the year for which we have the most recent Census data), there were 74 million Boomers in the United States. Because of their sheer numbers and more established position in life, Boomers have a great deal of buying power.

However, unlike the tech-savvy Millennials who are looking for sleek websites and instant gratification online, Boomers have a different set of needs and wants when it comes to user experience.

Trust Matters

Baby Boomers are highly concerned with their ability to trust a business. This desire for trust takes a number of forms.

Security’s a top priority for users who didn’t grow up putting their social security number and banking information into computers. You must be sure your site—and particularly your payment pages—are secure. When you do ask for personal information on website forms, limit it to only the information you truly need. Add trust badges like Norton Secured to increase your conversion rates.

Boomers also want to trust that your company is responsible and responsive. Setting a consistent tone, messaging, and visual design across all of your digital assets (website, emails, social media) makes users feel like they understand and can trust the people behind the brand.

Part of establishing your business’s tone is creating a clear value proposition. When you understand what it is that you aim to do with your business, you can tailor your messaging to resonate best with your desired client base.

Tracking customer behavior across platforms through the use of CDPs also allows you to prove to customers that you understand and value them. If someone calls your business with a question, and the representative they speak to can see their purchase history, previous emails, chat messages, and a list of pages the customer has recently visited on your website, they can provide highly customized support. This kind of support makes the user feel like they’re in capable hands and engenders a deep sense of trust.

Consider Physical Limitations

Many Baby Boomers rely on a stylish pair of reading glasses to get through their day; some might have adopted the latest hearing aid technology (or at the very least turn the volume up a little louder when watching the evening news). To create the best user experience for Boomers, consider some of the physical limitations that come along with aging.

If you want to make it easier to read your website, provide users with the ability to adjust text size. Make call to action buttons big, bright, and hard to miss. And don’t clutter your pages with lots of images, GIFs, and tiny text. A clean, simple page with high contrast will be easiest for Boomers to read and enjoy.

If you have videos on your website or social media, be sure to include subtitles. This is helpful for any user who might not be able to listen with sound on, in addition to those who are hearing impaired. Make it possible to navigate your website using just a keyboard; using a mouse or trackpad is difficult for your users.

Embrace a Slower Pace

Boomers are slower to navigate websites than their younger counterparts; it takes the average Boomer 43 percent longer to read through a website than those in the 21 to 55 year age range. However, unlike those easily-distracted Millennials, Boomers have a much greater attention span.

This means that long-form text and deep content are okay for a Boomer audience. They are more likely to read and digest all that information than younger people. However, because they move through sites at a slower pace, it’s best to keep all product information on one page. Don’t ask them to navigate to multiple new pages while trying to remember how they got there.

If you do need to incorporate multiple pages for one product or service, provide breadcrumb navigation. That allows users to easily find their way back to where they started.

If You Need Me, Call Me

Unlike Millennials, who prefer to solve issues on their own, Boomers like to know that they can talk to a real human being if they have an issue.

Don’t hide your contact information away on a remote page. Don’t make users climb proverbial mountains before you provide them with the option to call you. Even if they never take you up on the offer, users appreciate knowing they have the option to speak with a representative if the need arises.

Tap Into the Right Networks

Although social media started out as the domain of the Millennials, plenty of Boomers have joined in the fun in recent years. However, there are some networks that are still dominated by younger age groups and others where Boomers have taken over.

Knowing which social media platforms Boomers have embraced allows you to meet them where they are. You can then tailor your messaging to their needs on that particular platform. While Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are dominated by younger users, Facebook now has more users who are 65 and older than those who are between the ages of 13 and 17.

Creating a great UX for Boomers is about understanding what they’re hoping get out of their time on the internet. While they like finding answers through their own research on your website and social media pages, they still appreciate being able to make a personal connection to an individual at your company when they have questions or a problem.

This generation came of age before the internet and cell phones but is still young enough to have embraced technology in their adult years. When you approach your UX design through this lens, you can build an online presence that resonates with the Baby Boomer generation.

About the Author

Rob Ristagno, Founder and CEO of Sterling Woods, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. He started his career as a consultant at McKinsey. Ristagno holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.

Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method for Making More Money Online. He regularly speaks at key media conferences, including at Niche Media events, Specialized Information Publishers Association meetings, and the Business Information and Media Summit.

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