Give the Gift of Responsive Web Design

Posted by Mark Piquette on August 8, 2013

My mother-in-law is turning 70. My wife mentioned that we are going to go in on a present for her with my wife's sister and brother. I thought, "great, but how much can knitting needles and yarn really cost?"

Turns out my mother-in-law wants an iPad so it is going to set me back a few more dollars than yarn. She is part of the trend of increasing technology adoption by seniors; a trend that in some respects is growing faster than any other age demographic. I was looking at this chart from Statista (great website by the way) and Mashable and it got me thinking about overall technology adoption by seniors.

U.S. senior use of social networking has jumped from 2008, when it was almost nothing, to 60% for those 50-64 and 43% for those 65+ in 2013. Sure, social media use by 65+ seniors is still half of the 18-29 demo. But in 2008 the social media use by seniors was basically nada. Now it is 43%. Seniors might not be early adopters...but they are adopting.


I am not saying that the path to growth for advisors goes through seniors using social media. What I am saying, however, is that with increased adoption of technology by seniors there are more and more ways for advisors to connect and engage with clients and prospective clients. The increase in avenues available to reach clients and prosepcts brings some challenges; one of which is how your website looks across desktop, tablets and smartphones.

In the past (like a whole 2 years ago) if you wanted your digital content to look good on multiple devices you had a website and then you also developed an app (maybe even two - one for tablet and one for smartphone). Today with the rise of responsive web design, firms that don't need a dedicated app have a great option for making sure their content works across multiple screens and devices.  Mashable rescently called 2013 the year of Responsive Web Design.

So what is responsive web design? At the most basic level it is code that detects the screen resolution of the device your website is being served up on and changes to fit the screen. However, it is not simply just shrinking your site to fit a smaller screen. Flexible images and grids resize and change to fit the screen.  If you view this website on your desktop and then on a tablet or smartphone you will notice that the navigation changes and the content becomes more vertical as horizontal space is contrained. Building this flexibility into your site requires some thought and planning. Simply serving up a tiny site with tiny navigation buttons on a mobile device will be a sure way to turn off seniors. 

If you are thinking of redesigning your website make sure you discuss responsive web design with your designer and build in the architecture and design to get the most out of it. Fortunately many widely used website platforms are making it easier and easier to work with responsive web design.  Wordpress recently added a suite of responsive web design themes that make it easy to ensure your site looks good across devices. The upside to this is now you can build one website and have it work everywhere rather than wondering if you need to spend money building an app.

Yarn and needles would have been a lot cheaper.


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