Designing Sites for Older Users


Older users from the Silent Generation or the Baby Boomers are seldom paid as much attention to as the now more numerous Generation Xers and Millennials. This doesn’t mean that these generations are not shopping online. Instead, they are shopping online differently. When you’re designing a site with older users in mind, you need to keep font size, tone, and purpose in mind when designing.

When you are preparing for Cyber Monday, you should take a moment to assess these older users as this is the time that these generations use the Internet the most. They’re online for a purpose. They want to buy gifts for their loved ones. This means that you already have motivated buyers on your hands. All you need to do is make sure that your site is accessible to them.

Silent Generation: See Internet as a research tool

Designing Sites for Older Users

This generation was born between 1929 and 1945, according to Education This generation was primarily out of the workforce when computers made their way into becoming commonplace. They grew up using books as reference materials and remember when the library call card system was taught as common practice. As a result, they end up treating technologies the same way that they did books. They basically see the Internet as a tool to access information.

This makes them steady users to market to. They typically want to be online to make a purchase or conduct business. The most important thing to remember is that the language they use is going to be less adaptable than the languages of other generations. Where Gen X and Millennials adapt to new phrases at lightning speed, the Silent Generation tends to lag. Using too many slang terms will turn them away.

Silent Generation: Will not use pull down menus

Because this generation was very used to print as the only method to get news and information. As such they don’t think about links or ″buttons″. This continues into how they browse websites. If your Shopify site is heavily reliant on drop down menus then you’re most likely going to end up losing this generation as users. They simply don’t make the connection that they can look at menus in that fashion.

One of the best ways to ensure that you’ll keep these users is to avoid the drop down altogether or make a prominent way for them to get around the drop down experience. As a general rule of thumb, it’s important for you to make the site experience easy and straight forward. They want to know what the product is, how much is costs, and where to buy it. They don’t care about peer reviews as they are more likely to trust you at your word than younger generations.

Baby Boomers: See technology as a tool for them

When the baby boomer generation started using computers, they were only using them for work. This was a time where tech was at a premium, meaning that you had to be of an extremely high income to afford experimentation with technologies for recreation, according to They weren’t really expecting to ever use things like smartphones, and growing up they had few choices for news and media. At times they can get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of choices that they perceive to be put in front of them. Much like the generation before them, they prefer to close off if they get overstimulated rather than work through.

Baby Boomers: Want to see technology share their ideals and values

Baby boomers tend to be high earners if they’re using tech at all. In fact, they have been known to spend the most on technical devices, according to Boomers like to own things; they see stuff as a way to prove that they’ve worked hard and are capable. This sets them far apart from all other living generations, as the Slient ones are known for their frugality and Generations X, Y and Millennial no longer have access to affordable and subsidized education that the boomers had before them. This, coupled with the need to get a higher education to hold many of the jobs that the boomers have held without them, means that the generations after the boom simply own fewer things.

That means that boomers are likely to spend the most per capital of any other generational group. To get the final push on the baby boomer dollar, you should appeal to the ″good old days″ a bit in your advertising. This has an added benefit of being retro at this time, so it also appeals to younger generations. Above all, refrain from using judgmental language when dealing with older generations. Remember that to them, the Internet is a tool and if your site doesn’t serve the basic purpose, they have no use for it.

Featured image credit: Portrait of a laughing happy internet user/ShutterStock

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