Site Design For Silver Surfers

silverAs promised, here’s the article on the usability concerns of silver surfers from Stuart and Toni Livesey of Small Office – Home Office Information.

DG recently posted a piece entitled Silver Surfers Take to the Social Web and it’s a timely reminder that we’re in the middle of what many marketers call the silver tsunami. That’s the label they attach to a phenomena that’s never going to be repeated.

There will never be a demographic group quite like the baby boomers ever again and right now that group is coming online in huge numbers. Not only are they coming online but they’re cashed up and they’re eager to spend money while they’re surfing the Net.

As a couple of boomers, online marketers and heavily involved in a busy computer repair shop in a town filled with boomers we have a unique insight into the problems that boomers face online. We also understand some of the problems that marketers might face when marketing to the baby boomer generation.

We know that helping us oldies spend our money online may not be as easy as you think. There are site design factors involved that you may not have even considered. And you need to think about them because if we don’t feel comfortable with a site and don’t know how to use it we’re not going to feel comfortable about spending money on it.

So here are some points to consider based on our own experience, the one-on-one research we have done with older people that we know and older people who come into the computer shop and talk about their online experiences.

While these don’t apply to every boomer out there and obviously there are many who have no problems with modern websites there are a lot more who do struggle because sites are not designed with them in mind.

Most of us are quite new to the Net – you need to show us the links in a form we understand. If it’s blue and underlined we know it’s a link – if it’s anything else we may never see it as something to click on.

We don’t like to admit it but we’re getting old and our eyesight isn’t as good as it once was. If the text is too small then we can’t read it and if you give us the option of making it bigger make sure we understand how to exercise that option. Sorry, but neat little icons on the right hand side of the page are probably not going to cut it for most boomers.

Screen Resolution
Yes, we know you younger guys can see the screen at resolutions unheard of five years ago … but we can’t. We know you think it will make your site suck but if you design it for 800×600 then we can see it and we might even buy something from you.

Too see this you have to download …
Sorry, most of us are uncomfortable with change. We have the technology that we need and if you want us to download something extra so we can see your site then we’ll go somewhere else.

If it works then don’t fix it is something we learned the hard way. Who cares if the computer is 10 years old, it still works so why should we change it? That may not suit you and it might make your website look like a dog’s dinner but if you want to sell to us then it’s you’re problem not ours.

See what we already said about hardware.

You want my credit card number?
Then make sure that we trust you. Tell us what your privacy policy is, tell us what your terms and conditions are and tell us in terms that we can understand. Give us your contact details too – and a street address will make us trust you even more. Try to baffle us with bullshit and we’re gone because we know that the Web if full of conmen who want to rip us off!


  1. 1 Silver surfers « Sandragreen’s Weblog

    […] freely […]

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