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Recently I have been asked to help in a website that targets an elderly age group (50+) and when I was thinking about how to execute the site I debated on the mobile first web design approach.

Doing some research I questioned some relatives I knew that were using smart phones and I asked them if they used their smart phones for actually browsing the internet an if not what for. The answer I received were basically all the same which were: "Social media and checking emails".

So my questions are:

  • I have the option to choose how the site will be developed would it be a waste of time to develop in the mind-set of mobile first or should I still always consider what I invest my time in?
  • Since this site would be targeted to a specific age group should a mobile first design approach be considered or a static web design approach in regards to desktop viewing be used?

I've looked for some statistics on age targeted mobile usage in regards to viewing websites but I couldn't find an overwhelming usage.

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It's an interesting question. What guidance did they give you on your audience, what considerations were you asked to take into account in order to effectively target this age group? Are there accessibility targets you were asked to bear in mind? Are you targeting them with certain content filters? There is no "baby boomer device" so I am wondering how the boomer element is of relevance. –  Mishax May 27 at 14:54

2 Answers 2

Are you including tablets in your definition of "mobile devices"? They have a lot of the same input constraints as a mobile phone and seem to be on the rise for basic web browsing across age groups. You may also want to focus on a good mobile experience if your core audience is likely to share links to your site on social media, which you believe is one of their main mobile activities. In general, because so many smartphones and tablets exist, unless you are trying to build a site for something that is just not possible or practical to do on a phone or tablet (an example from my own work is submitting an app to an app store, we focus on desktop only in that case) there is always value in optimizing your site for use on mobile devices and "mobile first" is a pretty good design strategy for accomplishing that.

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Ok so lets just think about this for a second. Firstly Cost to Develop is negligible upfront cost for mobile first considering the wider reach of users and even more so if this is a For Profit website. Broadcasting to a wider audience is usually a good bet on increasing revenue. Not knowing your websites focus I would bet that each of these Boomers have children and grand children that may be interested in what your providing.users

Secondly, mobile first isn't simply about what users use a device for, its about where they use the device and also when. Lets take your small sample group feedback, they check emails on smartphones, you send them an email with your website link, where are they more likely to tap on that link? In their smartphone. The strategy of building a website for the simple context of someone sitting down in front of a desk hoping they find your website on their desktop while in that time and place critically limits the possibility they will be exposed by one way or another to your services.

Lastly, mobile first isn't a development strategy nor is it a user experience strategy. Those are by products of what it does, it is about reach. Reaching users in both the time and place they are accessing the internet, reading emails, communicating.

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