I Am a Baby Boomer. Hear Me Tweet.

by Guest Author on May 20, 2011

I am at the youngest end of the Baby Boomers. The oldest Boomer turns 65 this year. According to The US Census Bureau, we make up 26% of the population.

If I have gray hair – you won’t be seeing it anytime soon. I spend more time at the gym than in church, more time doing crunches, than on my knees in prayer, though it may take an act of God to put me back into a bikini.

I talk to my family daily. Not through the phone or even via email. We are ALL on Facebook, all 5 sibs, spanning  the full boomer range – 50-66. ALL of our 12 kids, plus their spouses, are on Facebook too. It is the easiest way to see how my grand-niece looks today, screaming on the swing set, as well as consult on color choices with my niece on a new bedspread.

If I need to connect with my teenage children, I have to text them. They won’t answer the phone if I call. They prefer that I do not acknowledge them on Facebook. In fact, they refer to me as a “stalker.”

When I turned 50, I had a big party and invited about 80 people. I did not send out invitations via the mail, or call my friends. I created an event on Facebook. It took me about 15 minutes to complete the entire process.  The party was a huge success. Photos were posted on FB the next day, tagged, and all attendees could comment, laugh and share.

In a recent article in DM News called “Reaching the digital boomer,” author Anthony Franco reports,

“Boomers comprise more than a third of the online population and control 50% of the country’s discretionary spending, according to Forrester Research. Boomers also spend more money on technology than any other demographic. Flowtown.com says that 47% of Internet users ages 50 to 54 use social networking sites.”

It’s pretty clear that boomers “heart” technology, and they like to spend money on it. How do you create effective user experiences for digital applications — for the Web, desktop or mobile — that will appeal to this subset of the population? Design for goals and behaviors, aptitude and attitude, rather than generation.

AMEN! Say it again.

“Design for goals and behaviors, aptitude and attitude, rather than generation.”

Remember that, even though I am a Boomer. I learned to love my new DROID™ in less than a week. I’ve been known to lose my kids in the grocery store, and if they did not make so much noise, they might never get fed, but I never leave my smartphone anywhere, plus I keep chargers for it and my laptop at work and at home! I am ALWAYS connected and powered up.

I have my own personal travel blog and a Twitter account. On my free time I research, tour and then showcase the number one freshwater destination in the world, all the while making connections with thousands like me who are also passionate about the Finger Lakes.

More from DM News: “A study from AARP and Microsoft Corp. that aimed to uncover Boomers’ perceptions of technology yielded common themes.
… Marketers must keep digital interactions clear and simple. … One of the quickest ways to make people nervous that your application is not doing what it’s supposed to do is to have it doing nothing. Simple status indicators are critical.

“Consistency in navigation, behavior and terminology also help engender trust. Design your applications to behave the way people are used to them behaving. Provide meaningful links that tell people exactly where they’re going.”

The Boomers has embraced and will continue to invest in digital technology because it is a tool that enhances our lives. We will continue to adopt and adapt so we can stay in touch with those who are most precious to us – our tech savvy kids and grandkids.

HOWEVER, we will insist that you design applications and tools to behave the way WE expect them to behave. Or, like my Boomer Buddy Bob, who HATED his new smartphone, we will return it to the store within 14 days and get a different model. Don’t mess with us. We may not seem tech saavy. But if your technology seems slow or stupid to us, you will lose, because we have money, and lots of time to complain.

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