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Ecommerce website optimization to target an older audience


This short guide outlines the key steps in optimizing an ecommerce website to better appeal to the Baby Boomer market and older customers.

In their zeal to appeal to Millennials, a lot of marketers are overlooking an inescapable truth. Baby Boomers have most of the money and they’re still spending it. A recent study found Boomers spend some 17 percent more than Millennials on average. Born between 1946 and 1964, the oldest Boomers are hitting 72 as this is being written, while the youngest ones are coming up on 54. Having invented consumerism as we know it, they’re showing no signs of letting up in their spending. So yes, optimizing your ecommerce website for older adults is a smart play.

Optimizing an ecommerce website: 6 steps

Here’s what you can do.

1. Show them the big picture of your ecommerce website

Eyesight is one of the first casualties of the aging process. Larger, more vivid product images make it easier for older adults to seeyour products. In fact, while you’re at it, you’ll want to increase your font sizes as well. Set your default text size to 12 points and ensure your siteis responsive to requests to increase it upon demand. If you’re designing a new website from scratch, look to template providers like Shopify, whose free website themes give you the flexibility to make layout adjustments to accommodate older users.

2. Give them room

Packing tiny details close together makes it difficult for seniors to differentiate them. This is particularly important for hypertext links. Placing them too close to one another makes clicking on them a frustrating experience. Frustration leads to irritation. Irritation leads to anger and anger leads to an abandoned shopping cart. While we’re on the subject, your calls to action and navigation buttons should be large and readily discernable as well.

3. Help them remember

Having links change color after they’ve been clicked helps the older mind recognize these completed tasks. Short-termrecall can be an issue with older adults, so those types of cues will help keep them on track. If you have lengthy forms, make them scrollable and render them all on one page rather than splitting them across multiple screens. Users of advanced age will find keeping up with this process cumbersome. If you need tointroduce changes to your navigation or any other critical function of your site, offer help when a user hovers over the new feature. Along these same lines, reassurance is huge among this group. When a transaction is completed, always give them visual confirmation.

4. Think tablet over smartphone

Older people tend to find smartphones “fiddly”. However, they do appreciate the convenience of mobile computing, so they’ve gravitated to tablets. A Pew Internet study found 32 percent of older adults own them. But wait, it gets even better, 62 percent of Boomers with household incomes of $75k or more use tablets. And, these “tablet people” are more highly educated than their non-tablet using peers. Optimizing your ecommerce site for mobile for them is definitely a good move—but think tablet rather than smartphone.

5. Provide expert advice on your ecommerce website

Boomers value prior knowledge more than Millennials because they are old enough to recognize the advantages of experience. As a result, they tend to give more weight to expert opinions. This makes social proof extremely important when you’re marketing to this group. Video demonstrations and testimonials about your products will help convince them to buy.

6. Don’t treat them “old”

All of the above ideascan be applied,even while the toneof your site appeals to a sophisticated younger shopper.This is possible because this cohort does NOT want to be labeled “old”. ThePeter Pan generation, Baby Boomers tend to see themselves as eternally young at heart—and hip—so a respectfully youthful approach will fly with them.

The ecommerce website takeaway?

While Boomers do appreciate accommodations provided in consideration of their physical attributes, those adaptations must be subtle. These people don’t want to be reminded the Grim Reaper is right around the corner filing his nails as they inchever closer to his location.  In other words, optimizing your ecommerce site for older adults is definitelya smart play—as long as you do it tactfully.

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