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Old Money

Seniors are surfing the Web at an alarming rate--are you ready to accommodate?

Senior citizens are the fastest-growing sector of the online audience, exploding from a measly 600,000 in 1995 to an estimated 13 million in 1998, according to SeniorNet. They also spend more time--and money--online than any other age group, so it's no wonder they're an attractive audience for online marketers.

With more than 168 learning centers, SeniorNet, a nonprofit that teaches people over 50 to use computers and the Internet, has been at the forefront of getting seniors online. Want to make sure your site is senior-friendly? SeniorNet's executive director Ann Wrixon offers these warnings about common mistakes made when reaching out to seniors online:

  • While seniors are often depicted in rocking chairs, nursing homes or wheelchairs, that's not representative of most adults over age 60. Show a diversity of vibrant and active seniors on your site.
  • Most people have declining eyesight as they age. Use larger typefaces and avoid clutter. Also, watch color-on-color contrast.
  • As is true with any audience segment, navigation should be simplified to avoid frustration.

What does Wrixon see as the biggest misconception about marketing to seniors online? "The myth that you can't teach an old dog new tricks," she says. "When we consider what these people have lived through, we realize that they are risk-takers. They have more time and more life experience. They're willing to try new things."

Contact Source

SeniorNet, (800) 747-6848,

This story appears in the February 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »