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Why Seniors Hate Your Website

If your website isn’t effectively reaching Baby Boomers, it’s not for want of a viable audience. Not only are Baby Boomers online in ever-increasing numbers, but they’re more and more active on the web as well.

Likely, it’s for want of an effective website. Maybe you simply aren’t getting a lot of traffic—or, even worse, maybe you’re getting traffic and have a low conversion rate. If that’s the case, it likely means that your senior users are finding your site and leaving frustrated. How can you fix the problem?

Well, let’s take a look at a few common reasons that seniors might hate your website. Along the way, we’ll also cover how to correct them, so that you can optimize your website for seniors. If you aren’t reaching a Baby Boomer audience online, then it’s time for a change. Here are a few things that might’ve gone wrong.

1. You organized your website around what is important to you, rather than your users.

Failing to take into account the preferences of your users is one of the most common causes of website inefficiency – or any marketing mistake, really.

Users may be reaching your site at various points in the conversion funnel, but regardless of age, all of the visitors to your website are task oriented. They are researching your product, evaluating your services, or trying to make a purchase online. Confusion around how to complete their task can lead to frustration and abandonment of your site. And keep in mind that older users are twice as likely as younger users to quit a task, and they give up 30 seconds faster on average as well.

Because of this, first time visitors to your site need to be reassured they’ve reached the correct destination. Make your value proposition clear. Visitors evaluating your offer need quick access to features so that they can compare you to your competitors, while users ready to commit need clear calls to action to convert.

We use a process we call conversion geography to break down the value proposition of a website into the key pieces of information we need to convey to our user, understand how these pieces of information tap into the core needs of our audience and will persuade them to convert, and use that understanding to guide the layout of information on each webpage.

When you’re evaluating the information to present to users, make sure that the purpose and corresponding action are obvious. Here are a few tips to help.

  • The five second test – Make sure your value proposition is clear to users within the first five seconds of reaching your site.
  • Clarity trumps persuasion – Use clear headline text to quickly convey your key points to users scanning your site.
  • Provide obvious options – Provide clear paths to further information for users still evaluating your product or service with off ramps to convert to users who have made up their mind.
  • Use the “bite, snack, meal” format – Use these methods to present information. A small bit of information to quickly convey a concept, links to a larger snack sized explanation to provide more info, and a route to a full meal of details for users who need to dig in to feel comfortable with your offer.
  • Snacks before the meal – Use the smaller “snack” sized cues of information towards the top of your page to reinforce your users assumptions or answer their questions quickly with the lengthier “meal” size details lower on the page or deeper within the structure of the site.

2. You stuck to the facts, and only the facts.

Facts can be persuasive, but if your website is simply pounding your viewers over the head with features, information, and pricing details, your senior audience will likely remain unengaged. That’s because older users commonly connect with the emotional needs a product fulfills. With that in mind, design your site to make your products’ emotional benefits apparent.

  • Use stories – Set the scene and help your older users envision themselves benefiting from your product. Even better, show your older users how your product helps them emotionally connect with their friends, family or even members of your own staff.
  • Feature testimonials – Real-life accounts from happy clients focusing on their emotional connection to your product can play a huge role in creating trust and connection with your viewers.
  • Use authentic photography – Poorly chosen stock photos can feel forced, breaking the sense of trust you are trying to create. Instead, wherever possible, use real images of your employees and customers. This will make your site feel much more real and honest.

3. You overwhelmed them.

Nobody likes to feel overwhelmed. Older users can sometimes have trouble processing too much information at once. If you try to throw too much at them, they’ll likely become overwhelmed and frustrated, which means they’ll leave. Instead, present information in an orderly, simple way.

  • Keep things simple visually – Don’t clutter the page with too many pieces of information at once. “Chunk” your information into easily understood subsections with clear divisions between them so your older user can concentrate on one concept at a time.
  • Break down complex processes – If your older user needs to undertake a multi-step process (from filling out several forms, to using your website’s search) break it down into easy to manage sub-steps. Use text or progress indicators to remind them which parts they have completed, and provide clear calls-to-action to guide them confidently to the next step.

4. You assumed too much.

We’ve spent years studying older audiences and how to reach them. We have a wealth of knowledge to draw from, and yet we still conduct continual analysis of user behavior to make sure we are providing the strongest marketing strategy on our websites. Basing a campaign on anything resembling an assumption is unwise. Instead, constantly optimize your strategies using testing, analysis, and hard data.

  • More five-second tests – Evaluate wireframes and mockups with frequent five-second tests to get near instantaneous feedback as periodic “gut checks” during the design process.
  • Live user tests – Have real viewers use your site, and gather feedback from them. This can be especially helpful around complex interactions like career application forms or e-commerce solutions.
  • Don’t stop testing – Even after launch, continue to refine and optimize your website with periodic A/B split tests and analytics analysis. You can always improve, and constant testing will also help you to navigate problems as quickly as possible.

Avoid these four mistakes, and you’ll be on your way to designing a website that engages Baby Boomers. Don’t be satisfied with a site that seniors hate – reaching an older audience online is viable, and with the proper care, you can turn your site into a platform for genuine, beneficial engagement.

Have any questions other questions about creating a website for Baby Boomers, or any comments of your own to add? Get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

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