12 April 2010

Designing for Older Consumers

As usual, Dick Stroud beat me to it because he gets up eight hours earlier. (At least that’s as good an excuse as any.)

Dr. Joseph Coughlin (I’ve blogged about him a bunch of times) has a post on his Disruptive Demographics blog that should be read by everybody involved in advertising and marketing to Baby Boomers:

Personalization: The New Language of Design for Older Consumers
image Researchers and industry have spent considerable time and resources on improving the usability of new technologies. Despite these efforts, the capability and functionality of most new devices still outstrips their usability. Greater capability is often coupled with greater complexity packaged in an ever-smaller device … The cell phone provides a good example. Many phones enable users to play music, take photos, film videos, and now many mobile platforms are being designed to monitor chronic disease. However, this high level of functionality is not matched with an equal level of usability.

Entrepreneurs often approach me with products and say, “I’ve dumbed it down for Baby Boomers.”  One product had a dumbed-down GUI – but even worse: the text was reverse white on blue, the most difficult to read color contrast for older eyes.  The designer hadn’t a clue.

Dumbing-down is what you don’t want to do. You want to make the product easier to see, to hold, to operate.  That’s not ‘dumbing down’.  You can apply Universal Design principles to complex products. 

From my book (© 2005, 2007):


Apply the above to smart phones and apps, and just about any technology product.  Baby Boomers do want and demand choices, features.  They just won’t be interested in or use them all.   

Read the Disruptive Demographics blog post. (Although we’ll forgive Dr. Coughlin for his ‘Me Generation quotes.)

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