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Essential Strategies for a Website Redesign for Seniors

I’m a big fan of house remodeling shows that fill cable channels like HGTV. I get a vicarious thrill from watching homeowners demolish 70’s era wood paneled basements and tear out Pepto-Bismol colored bathroom sinks. While those flashy demolition jobs seem to have the biggest impact, I am overcome with a sense of dread whenever those same homeowners discover a cracked foundation after tearing up the green shag carpet in the basement. Typically the project foreman is adamant that the thankless job of repairing the home’s foundation is critical to its long-term survival. An unstable foundation can doom a house no matter how many slick granite kitchen counters are installed.

Websites can suffer a similar fate. Too often a website redesign is undertaken by concentrating on eye-catching graphics or clever taglines, rather than completing a thorough discovery process to define the goals of the company and making sure they align with the desires of users.

Let’s take a look at eight strategies to help build the foundation of an effective website redesign.

Examine Your Analytics

If you have a website, you should have Google analytics running on it. The quantitative data it captures can help provide a sense of what content is most appealing to your users, where they are most likely to convert, and which content is failing to engage them.

Conduct Qualitative User Research

Analytics may help frame the overall usage of your existing website, but for true insight you need to speak with your users. After all, analytics can tell you how people are using your site, but they can’t tell you if your users want something that your site is missing.

In some cases it may only be possible to gather data by using a third party user-testing tool or by surveys, but be careful to properly format survey questions to avoid returning skewed results. Be sure to interview users within the mature market, and across a wide variety of familiarity with websites. Don’t assume older users are less familiar with the Web than younger boomers.

Create Personas

Talking to users should give you a chance to find commonalities between individuals. You can create fictional people or “personas” to use when making decisions during the redesign. “What is Sara trying to do on our website?” “What words would Sara use to describe our service?” “What would Sara be worried about that would prevent her from submitting her credit card information?” Be mindful that boomers are juggling numerous responsibilities, caring for senior parents as well as older children. Their situation can help you see potential marketing efforts or ways of connecting with them.

Define Your Goals

This could be obvious, such as “increase sales leads”, but sometimes stating your goals helps get the entire team on the same page. Did you miss the goals required by one department of your company? Do you have so many goals that your website design will lack focus? You need to understand what you are trying to achieve before you can begin redesigning a website to achieve it.

Clarify Your Value Proposition

Your value proposition is the selling point of your product or service. That’s different from your goal, and you need to structure your value proposition so it’s appealing from your users’ viewpoint. If you’ve created personas, use those as a lens to examine your value proposition to a senior market. Be ruthless at cutting the fat from your value proposition. Being concise and clear with it will pay dividends later when it comes time to communicate that value proposition online.

Broaden Your Messaging

You may be targeting a demographic, but you need to communicate to individuals. Each visitor will be bringing their unique situation to their interaction with your website, and being aware of that can help you reach them. We segment users into four modalities (or buyer mindsets):

  • Competitive: Looking for the best deal. Quick and efficient.
  • Spontaneous: Ready to take action immediately. Need quick access to conversion points.
  • Methodical: Research and evaluate all possible choices before purchasing.
  • Humanistic: Respond to emotional value of a purchase.

Make sure the messaging, content and features of your website redesign reaches each of these buyer modalities. Mature users also respond to longer, emotion driven narratives. While this is perfect for our Humanistic users, you can also include content to reach Methodical and Competitive users as well.

Conduct a Competitive Review

You know what you are trying to achieve, who you are trying to reach, and the core message you are trying to communicate, but you need to examine that message within the greater competitive landscape. Compile an audit of competitors, looking at everything from branding and messaging to the individual features of their websites.

Perform a Site Audit

Armed with a better understanding of your value proposition and users, review your own site. Which elements work well? What isn’t communicating effectively? What’s missing? Think about some of the physical changes mature users are experiencing (like worsening eyesight and reduced dexterity) that might make using your existing site more difficult.

Next Steps

After consolidating all of this information, you’ll be well prepared to tackle revisions to your content and information architecture, and explore new design and layout options.

Although it’s tempting to jump right into revising the “broken parts” of an existing website, take the time to slow down and build a proper foundation by completing the discovery process. Doing so will give you the clarity to decide what needs to be fixed, what needs to be replaced, or what needs to be added to your new website.

Ready to lay a great foundation? At Immersion Active, as experts at marketing to seniors online, we’ve seen our fair share of website redesigns for seniors. We know what works and what needs to be torn down. Get in touch with us and start creating a website designed for seniors today.

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