This week I was asked to assist a relative of mine to buy a pair of glasses online. Said relative is retired, so that gives away their generational affiliation.
I had a chance to watch them try to navigate the website, take pictures for the facial recognition software, try to choose frames, the checkout process and more.
It was a fascinating exercise in web design and user experience.
Your website has a goal: Keep eyeballs (in this case, literally) on your site long enough for them to want to take an action. That could be signing up for the company newsletter, buying a product or making a donation if you’re a nonprofit.
Here’s what you don’t want: Someone frustrated by the appearance of your site and they leave right away. Lost opportunity to convert.
So although you might be a hip glasses company and all the kids are posing with your frames on Instagram, there’s a much larger potential target audience who need your product: Those above the age of 40.
According to the American Optometric Association: “Beginning in the early to mid-40s, many adults may start to have problems seeing clearly at close distances, especially when reading and working on the computer. In the years after you turn 60, a number of eye diseases may develop that can change your vision permanently.”
I don’t know their sales numbers, nor am I tracking the traffic to their site. If the glasses company wants to remain cool with the kids, then they won’t pay attention to issues people over 40 (and certainly over 60) are experiencing when they try to purchase glasses.
But that could hurt sales in a big way.
Well, font size does.
If eyesight deteriorates as people grow older, then increasing the font size makes your site’s copy more readable. Easier to navigate. More opportunities to convert.
How about screen size? For certain populations, a desktop or laptop computer is easier to read than a phone. This means ensuring that BOTH your desktop and mobile sites can be navigated flawlessly.
I didn’t check their mobile site but I can say this: On desktop, it was moderately hard to go from A to Z.
Actual Pen And Paper
I’m 47 years old and I grew up reading newspapers and books. I used pen and paper to write. Outside of a 7th grade typewriting class, I did everything the “old fashioned way.”
I’m happy reading text or watching an explainer video. Either works for me. But for Boomers, they may prefer text over video. As much as your company wants to YouTube the instructions, you should write them out as well. In fact, to help those with hearing and other issues, all videos on your site should have subtitles. Making sure the information is accessible to everyone can be the difference between losing and making a sale.
A Purchase Lost
Big companies should know and be able to deal with issues of size, navigation, look, coloring and more. One would also assume they took the site out for a large test run to make sure people can find what they need, make a purchase and move on.
Which begs the question: Who was part of the focus test group? Because if it wasn’t a diverse set of people- ability, age etc.- your site is going to have a low conversion rate.
My relative needed a LOT of help getting around the site and moving towards a purchase. And before you say OK Boomer, I watched the whole thing and yes, the site can be a bit of a mess. It’s not a simple 1-2-3. It was a hassle. For my relative, it was frustrating. In the end, no purchase was made.
Just one site, one person’s experience. But now look at your site and think: Can different populations make it to the finish line of your site without being frustrated by the journey?
If you’re not sure, get a bunch of people to test it. Watch how they navigate your site. See if they can complete a list of tasks you provide them. Talk to them afterwards and get feedback.It could be worth a LOT of money.
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