people over 60 still lag behind their younger counterparts in
Internet usage, the number of seniors online is expected to swell
from 14 million in 2000 to more than 27 million in by 2003,
according to Internet market research firm Jupiter Media Metrix.
The main reason seniors start using
computers is because of e-mail. Next, they begin researching topics
such as health, investing and entertainment. Then, they start
shopping and join discussion groups.
Most Internet marketing experts
agree that this usage pattern is the same as the general public's.
Older Americans also have financial
clout, which should also attract marketer's attention. According to
the American Banking Association, older adults own 77 percent of the
country's financial assets. It is just a matter of mistaken
assumption right now that seniors are not using the Internet.
It is truly amazing that corporate
America has yet to wake up to the idea that seniors are online with
many retirees spending hours online every day and learning to shop
online as well.
The biggest mistake is that
marketers fail to attract older adults to their Web sites when they
use flashy and complex designs. Older eyes generally have to
work harder to focus on text, but companies that are interested in
attracting senior markets can easily make those modifications on
Plenty of white space is critical
along with keeping the text on each line relatively short.
This is good marketing in general but especially important to older
The National Institute on Aging and
the National Library of Medicine have published a brochure on how to
make Web sites senior friendly. The brochure emphasizes consistent
design and clearly presented text and simple backgrounds to make
reading easier for older eyes.
Another thing that can be extremely
important to senior adults online is that page file size should be
relatively small. Since many seniors have not yet moved to
broadband services and therefore rely on dial-up modems, keeping
that file size small lets the page load quicker and keeps the viewer
happier longer. It is all about knowing your market.
Seniors are not adverse to learning
technology. They're just unfamiliar with it, and once they
have access to these new tools and the knowledge of how to use them,
their lives are enriched.