Designing Sites for Baby Boomers
It’s the market that still seems to be eluding the online marketing world: Boomers. In the last two years, several sites have popped up to court this generation. And, yet, they still can’t find a way to form a real boomer community with them, even though there are, according to the 2000 Census, over 79 million. Sure, many companies are investing heavily into tapping this market, but online, I believe that many still consider this to be a niche group not worth catering to.
Three Boomer Sites Not Up Snuff:
eMarketer predicts that by 2011, over 83% of the Baby Boomer population will be online and active. Logically, and naturally, these folks are going to want a place to congregate. And, whomever can find the right model and design, will own the market. As you can see from the chart, all three sites are below half a million monthly users. So where are they all going?
How To Design a Dynamite Baby Boomer Site:
Just a few quick tips on how to design a site that Boomers may actually want to visit
1. Color Choice is Key:
Studies have shown, and science has proved, that the color blue is actually the hardest color on the eye on the as we age. Moreover, you have think about the psychological implications of the palette you choose, what group of colors best represents that generation. Blue, while being a very gender-neutral color and representing trustworthiness, also represents sadness and the ambient. Physiologically, blue calms and sedates.
Colour perception and sensitivity; less violet light is registered, making it easier to see red and yellows than blues and greens and often making darker blues and black indistinguishable.
If you look at three sites listed above, blue dominates the palette. Seems this would be the color to stay away from, right? These sites aren’t banks or financial entities in any sense, so why use blue? What kind of trustworthiness do they have to build, visitor loyalty? Why “calm and sedate” your visitors, seriously?
2. Large, In-Your-Face Text
Not only does body deterioration come with age, but so does eye deterioration. To be honest, I like sites with text bigger than 10 point font, considering I live at the keyboard 60+ hours a week. If your users have to struggle to read the site, then you can bet 99 out 100 times, they’re gone, especially a demographic that has poor eyesight to begin with.
I would stick with no less than a 12 pt. font, possibly in Arial or Tahoma.
3. The Site has to be About Boomers
Of course all three sites are “about” Boomers, but are presented in such a way as if they are selling something to them, rather than a place to commune. I believe the website will have to serve the ego of the Baby Boomer generation, not merely have a name and outer shell that identifies with them.
If you’re following, then the solution to designing the Boomer site is to create a robust social networking site. All they’ll want to do is talk about themselves: photo-sharing, video sharing, blogging, discussions, etc. (after all it’s what they’ve done best the past 50+ years) It doesn’t need to be as globally-integrated to other sites, they won’t use it. They key is to have very easy to use functionality: pick and post. Remember the K.I.S.S. Rule: Keep It Simple Stupid.
No website is going to take over for Ebay or Amazon to serve their commerce needs to buy goods. No website like this going to serve as the “News” station replacement over their local newspaper sites and national news sites. They don’t even want to connect with one another; they just want to talk out loud to everyone else.
Google AdSense: Behavioral Targeting?
Barry Schwartz posted an interesting piece on Search Engine Land today about Google submitting a patent application for behaviorally targeting PPC. Besides being intellectually stimulating, instituting behaviorally targeted PPC to users based off Google Tool Bar data and, of course through, as I talked about in Search 4.0, user login (remember, when you sign up for an account, you provide them geographic data) could have some pretty large ramifications in the paid search world.
1) Quality Score Irrelevant?
Quality Score may become irrelevant down the road. If a user continually searches in specific geographic location, then the behavioral algorithm “should” produce only ads in or around that location. Assuming the advertiser is paying the requisite amount to show in a high position, users may be going to garbage sites. Per the new regulations, Google set in motion in April (not allowing the Destination URL differ from the Display URL) it won’t be true SPAM, but for those of us who spend time optimizing landing pages for the keywords we are buying, it seems a bit ludicrous. Moreover, this seems like another way Google will start a bidding war between paid advertisers and generate higher bids (again).
2) Leveling the Playing Field Further
This is, however, better news for smaller companies and organizations struggling to keep up. Paid ads were meant to level the field for websites who were in the process of, or have yet to, SEO their site. Small sites could get the needed exposure necessary to “play ball” with the “big kids”. Grabbing more detailed information on users’ habits, it only stands to reason that smaller companies who have yet to make SEO improvements, it will allow them to be seen for valuable keywords. (Not withstanding these companies have usable and content-developed site to take advantage of this exposure) The little man gets a semi-fair shake from the big guy.
3) Users’ Privacy
It’s gone, and we’re all going to have to be ok with that. It is what is it. Google owns search, and, therefore, gets to dictate how search functions, how search collects data, and how search is displayed to users. The same is true of Search 4.0 (Personalized Search), and I didn’t hear any complaints about that from the crowd. Think of it this way: (which is how I’m pretty sure Google is thinking about it) users are getting the most, nearly in absolute, relevant results possible for that particular user. And, that’s the key phrase “for that particular user”. Google’s entire mission is to provide the most relevant results possible for each query performed by a user (not to mention making money). This fits into that mission. It’s the where the web has been for the last couple of years, and it’s definitely where it’s going: complete transparency. No more secrets (thank you Ben Kingsley). I’m not too worried about my privacy, everything is available out there anyway, if you know the right people and know where to look. The web is evolving once again and, once again, it’s our job as SEOs and Search Marketers to help our clients understand it, compete in it, and win in it.
Where GPS has Been & Where GPS is Going
The technology isn’t exactly new; it’s been available to the public since 1983, but has really become utilized and abundant in the last two years. With companies like TomTom , Garmin, and Magellan bringing this technology to more households, it stands to reason this is the next giant wave of online marketing. GPS is quite popular overseas, and has been for a number of years, and is now finally catching on here in the US.
Prices on these devices are dropping rapidly, and depending on the unit, can run you anywhere from $150 to upwards of $1000. Sales on these devices are expected to exceed 5.4 billion this year. Automotive and hand-held GPS devices are losing some of its exclusivity among the upper echelons and becoming affordable and available to the general populous.
Search Engine Land told us that Google Maps is now allowing users to download locations to their Garmin or TomTom device. And there are more and more POI (Point of Interest) sites popping up out there that allow GPS device owners to download to their device.
Some Popular POI Sites:
The Next Wave:
Even with the proliferation of GPS devices, and stretching field of the consumers you can reach, there’s more in store for GPS. Let’s start with branding.
I’ve already seen, on a couple of GPS systems, company branding being included like McDonalds logo, instead of the staple “knife and fork” icon. That’s a lot of branding power in an icon world. We’ve contacted TomTom and Garmin about this, to include a couple of our larger clients in corporate sponsorship. (NOTE: Neither TomTom nor Garmin will respond to site contact forms, you have to mail them directly) We’re still waiting on a response, but I’ll keep you posted.
Detailed Company Information:
Submitting to POI sites can give you an edge over the competition by allowing you to enter detailed company information. Those GPS systems with Bluetooth capability, will be able to access your website and download anything they need, including product information and coupons.
Audio (MP3) Messages:
I haven’t seen it yet (rather heard it) but many of the newer model GPS systems have the ability to play MP3′s. Think about the extended branding you have if consumers/users are within, let’s say 10 miles, of your client’s location. Once they breach that 10 mile radius, an alert goes off on the GPS device and begins to play a 10-15 second audio message to the driver letting them know they are within range and turn-by-turn directions! Amazing.
Folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg. And the time to get on your boards and ride this wave is now. It’s one of the last frontiers to be completely saturated with competition.