On June 4, 2012, I blogged about mistakes often made by website designers (“The Eyes Have It”) and offered basic suggestions to improve online communications readability for older populations. I wrote that according to AIGA, the professional association for design, considerably younger people prepare much of the information intended for older eyes and typically base their creative decisions upon how the world looks to them through their younger eyes (frame of reference).
On April 10,2012, Hubspot writer Corey Eridon posted a blog headlined “15 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website,” summarizing a list of some of the most annoying things seen on websites. All of the points made are appropriate for all ages but especially for baby boomers and seniors. I’ve taken the liberty of editing and adding to Corey’s comments. There is no doubt that website design, if ignored, significantly contributes to high abandonment and low conversion rates.
Sites that open to music can be distracting from the premise/point(s) of the landing page content. Moreover, music selections are very subjective as individual tastes vary. The 60 year old is not simply a 30-year-older version of their 30-year-old self. And, the older crowd typically doesn’t resonate with today’s younger music.
Broken links. One of the typical annoyances is the lack of site management. Broken links result in frustration and annoyance. Baby boomers and seniors have a low tolerance for this annoying experience. Check out your site periodically to assure all is well in cyberspace.
Long Paragraphs of Text
Don’t have long paragraphs of text without some bold headlines and/or bullet points. Break paragraphs into three to four short sentences and keep them to a minimum. By the way, don’t make your homepage too long with too many competing choices.
Mobile User Friendly
Two out of ten people (including older folks) own a smartphone. Is your site mobile user friendly? Can mobile visitors navigate your site or does it lead to user frustration? Simplicity of site design will help avoid this issue and your mobile visitors will appreciate it.
There was a time when websites were loaded with copy (relevant and irrelevant). The sites included keyword-dense copy meant for crawlers, not humans. It’s best to write for humans not for crawlers. Google's sophisticated algorithm(s) is better at determining a page's relevancy than it was 10 years ago, so keep it relevant.
They’re more annoying than productive and very distracting. The level of site stickiness/potential leads is directly related to the quality of your content/images and offers. Interruptions are not the road to good visitor experiences and for developing good relationships, and it’s a relationship the older visitor may be interested in. Also, don’t use banner ads that drop down when rolled over and block header navigation. Finally, don’t use pop-up boxes that are really hard to close and stay in the center of the screen.
Including a 'Contact Us' Form in Lieu of Contact Information
“Contact Us" module on your site should never be the only means of communication between you and your customers and making all fields mandatory doesn’t make the visitor very happy. If your visitor needs help, they typically want it now. Encourage visitors to contact you via email, telephone and social media. Make contact information available on every page of your website.
Generic Stock Photography
Stock photography may work great when used as metaphors to clarify your point. However, if you want to use people to promote the experience your product or services provides, it’s best to be authentic and honest in the images you use. Show pictures of customers, real people that work at your company, your product, and your location. Avoid stock photography as it lacks authenticity.
Using Website Advertising Interstitial Pages
Stay away from using website advertising interstitial pages on your site pages. Interstitials are web pages displayed before or after an expected content page, often to display advertisements or for other reasons. It’s manipulative at best and downright annoying. Older people especially may take issue with the use of such pages to present online advertising before allowing them to see the content they were trying to access.
The points above offer advice to make your website more user friendly. You should understand what site visitors expect to find when they enter your site and just give it to them, without pushing unwanted content.
More on this topic next Monday.