‘Seniors’ and Special Needs
As a businessperson, you should already be well aware that the Baby Boom Generation is here, it’s clear – get used to it.
This gigantic market segment not only is a consumer wonderland, but Boomers know what they want and how to throw their intimidating collective weight around to get it. When they were coming of age, they turned this country – and much of the world – on its head. Now they’re doing it again.
They’re older, of course. So they’re changing the definition of age. When one of the icons of Gen-Boom, feminist Gloria Steinem, was asked how she felt at age 50, she replied, “Exactly like I did when I turned 40,” or words to that effect.
The point is that 50, 60, 70 ain’t what it used to be. Unlike their parents, among other things, Boomers aren’t afraid of new technology and are flooding onto the Web. But they want it the way they want it – easy to read, especially with eyeglasses; mellow instead of jarring; and definitely free of (how would they put it?) crap.
As you design your Web site, also think about customers with impaired vision, hearing loss or other disabilities, and their special needs. The Website Accessibility Initiative is a great source of tips and design techniques for doing this.
Some high points:
- Audio and video. If you intend to use either to assist your customers – instructional videos, product tutorials, testimonials – be sure transcripts, captions and video descriptions are also available.
- Clarity. Pay attention to contrast and sharpness, not only in your images, but throughout your Web site.
- Color. Important for “décor,” but don’t use it to convey your message. Too many of your potential customers are visually impaired and will miss the point.
- Flicker. It amazes us that so many big, professional and otherwise good Web sites intentionally assault their users with flashing, flickering, strobe-speed graphics as “attention-getters.” Not only is flicker extremely annoying, it can touch off seizures in some people with epilepsy.
Before moving on to Step 5, where you’ll get into the guts of a Web page, be sure to check out these design-related resources: