Immersion Active, the only Internet marketing agency for the mature markets in the United States, made ‘Carol’s Web: A Digital Boomer’s Experience’ open to the public June 1, 2007.
‘Carol’s Web’ is a flash-based interactive program that simulates a typical online transaction through the eyes of an adult aged 50-plus. It presents a fictional baby boomer persona, Carol, navigating a travel website, trying to find information, and then following the call of an online advertisement. This scenario enables the user to experience the common frustrations and pitfalls mature consumers experience online.
"’Carol’s Web’ conveys the importance of understanding the needs of a 50-plus user," David Weigelt, Immersion Active marketing strategist and partner, said. "A common misconception is that older adults aren’t online, but in fact, they are the Web’s largest and fastest-growing constituency. They also happen to be the most underserved audience online, which this program illustrates."
One distinct feature of ‘Carol’s Web’ is the ability to toggle physiological issues on and off during the first section of the program. Those featured are presbyopia (farsightedness), eyesight deterioration, declining motor skills, and colorblindness all of which adults inevitably experience as they age.
"It was very important for us to stress that these are things that all humans experience as they age," Jonathan Boehman, Immersion Active creative director and partner, said. "The more notable effects of aging statistically begin at age 42, so we’re not strictly addressing what senior citizens might be facing. It’s much broader than that."
The other three sections of the program address usability, messaging, and trust issues that baby boomers and seniors often face online.
Each page that Carol encounters features three to four issues, such as illegible text and confusing navigation elements, which users must fix before they can proceed. Once they "fix the problem", an explanation is provided. Throughout the program, Carol provides commentary on her frustration and then relief once the page has improved.
‘Carol’s Web’ was featured at JWT’s Boomers 2.0: Beyond the Numbers Boomer Marketing Summit March 26 and 27, 2007 in Las Vegas. Conference attendees could partake in the demo at will, and Weigelt and Boehman agreed that it was a huge success.
"The overall message definitely resonated with attendees," Weigelt said of the exhibition. "By experiencing such a range of frustrations resulting from a typical online transaction, people were able to see what factors are likely contributing to their success (or lack of it) in converting their 50-plus customers."
‘Carol’s Web’ was developed by Immersion Active’s team and can be launched here.