By: Editorial Team | Posted: May 15, 2019 | Updated: April 5, 2023
Our Longevity Explorers frequently comment on just how poorly they think most Apps and websites are designed — when viewed from the perspective of an older adult.
So we were excited when a Silicon Valley startup enlisted our help to answer a variety of questions about how older adults really do interact online.
The first step in the project we did together involved a workshop at which we recruited a group of Longevity Explorers to help provide some high level insights and answers to broad initial questions, then do some hands-on interacting with a specific product concept. The audio from the first (general) part of that workshop is below.
While later steps in the project involved deeper interaction with the company’s specific product concept — and what we learned in those steps remains confidential — we agreed that this initial “high level” group discusssion would likely be useful to lots of people developing Apps and websites for “seniors”, and so we are publishing it here, with the permission of the company that sponsored our exploration.
Who should read (and listen)?
This research is designed to be of interest to developers of products for older adults, rather than to older adults themselves. If that is you, we recommend listening.
Listen to the Workshop
In this workshop, we explored questions like the following, from the perspective of a group of digitally-literate older adults:
- how do you “find” information?
- if you discover an interesting new company or website, how do you decide whether or not you “trust” it?
- when you “search”, do you ever click on the advertisements that are at the top of the search?
- if you discover a new App or website, how do you discover what it is about and who is behind it?
- what do you think about videos on websites?
- when people say a website is “confusing”, what does that mean to you?
- what do you mean when you say a website has “bad” navigation?
Background: About this Workshop
This workshop was designed to get some immediate feedback on certain topics from the point of view of a group of older adults. Because the company on whose behalf we did this work is working on some new financial services products, we included some questions that were specific to this area, and we also recruited a group of people who had a certain level of financial sophistication, compatible with the demographic the company wanted to learn about.
There were 12 older adults present, and we selected them based primarily on some prior survey questions that helped us understand their level of internet use and their degree of financial literacy. All participants were members of the Longevity Explorer community, and lived in Northern California. Participant’s ages ranged from early 70’s up to 95 years old. The workshop was conducted in 2018 in San Francisco, and was facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro.
The first section of the workshop (published here) focused on answering some high level questions. Then in the second part (not included here) we moved to some hands-on exploration of the company’s specific product concept.
Of course, a workshop like this represents a small sample of opinions, and it is an art to decide just how much to generalize what one learns. We typically use the learnings from this type of workshop as a first step in a larger engagement. Often, in subsequent steps we find we need to broaden the interaction to other types of individuals and other geographies. And often we decide that in subsequent steps other tools like one-on-one interviews, surveys, or “following people around” studies are appropriate.
The company on whose behalf we did this research (Mason Finance) commissioned this project from Tech-enhanced Life. Tech-enhanced Life and all the participating Longevity Explorers were compensated. We are grateful to the company for encouraging us to publish these results, so that others can also learn from them.
Full Workshop Transcript
Editor note: This transcript was prepared by a transcription service. The quality is not that great. If you really want the nuances from this discussion, we encourage you to listen to the audio.
Speaker 1: The program for today, as you probably all know, is there’s two bits. The first one will go for an hour. Then, we’ll have 15-minute break and then some of you can go home and some of you will stay to play with their product.
One little bit of housekeeping. Please speak up while you’re talking. Some of you have quite soft voices. Just make a bit of an effort to talk up.
There are going to be two pieces to this first section.
The context is we’re especially interested in online things today. That’s where we’re really trying to go. Just before we get to the online bit, we want to pull back and talk about things that are both online and offline, because my first question that I just want to hear your opinions on is:
Part A: Interacting with websites and companies
If you decide you need to find a specific product, or service, or piece of information, how do you go about that today?
Speaker 1: We’ve got a vote for Google. Who likes Google?
Naomi: I’ll second it.
Speaker 1: I thought that might be the case. Does anyone have a dissenting point of view? Does anyone not Google first? Lynn.
Speaker 1: Elaborate.
Lynn: Well, I have a network of friends who know a lot of things about a lot of things, so the very first thing I do is network with my friends to say, “I need a cheese grinder.”
Speaker 1: Do you do that before you Google or after you Google?
Lynn: Yes. Before I google.
Speaker 1: Before you Google. Anyone else who does something before googling?
Speaker 6: Depends. I do.
Speaker 1: What do you do?
Speaker 6: Well the same thing.
Speaker 1: Friends?
Speaker 6: Yes, or someone I know in a particular area I’m interested in. What do you favor? What do you know? Blah, blah. If I don’t get anywhere, well, then we start with Google.
Speaker 1: I got a couple of votes for friends, lots of Googles, anyone else? They think something else is more important?
Speaker 7: If I’m looking for a product, I might be at a store and look at it in the store, and then go to Google, or look at the reviews.
Speaker 1: Are we coming up with the edge cases, or is that the most common? Do you do that more than Google?
Speaker 7: I google more.
Speaker 1: That’s good. That was just really to get a bit of a framework. That’s what we guessed you might say.
Do you click on the ads when you search?
Now when you google, I don’t know if you always notice this or not, but at the top, there’s a bunch of things that are basically ads, and then there are some things that aren’t, and then there’s more ads lower down. I’m just curious whether we go to the ads. I don’t mean big banners. I mean links that look they’re a search, actually, that say ad by them, or do we skip over them and go down to the bottom below? Which do we do? Who wants to comment? Marion.
Marion: I purposely ignore those and go below there.
Speaker 1: You go to item number 10, or whatever it is where it no longer says ad?
Marion: I also go to the next page.
Speaker 1: Who else? Ross.
Ross: I do the same thing. I’m usually looking for a medical thing or a scientific thing.
Speaker 1: You skip over the ads?
Ross: I go right to what I think, if I’m not seeing it, I’ll change my search query and get something that’s more specific.
Speaker 1: Got it. Buck.
Buck: I’d like to follow up with this lady over there. I do tend to go to maybe a store to see a product, because you can’t always tell what it looks like. Then, once I see what it is and the price, then I go to the Google and I specifically look for that item. I generally turn it on to the images so that the different products shows up, and you can pick the one that you’re looking for.
Speaker 1: That’s helpful. Lynn.
Lynn: I have a strong reaction against the ads.
Speaker 1: Do you?
Lynn: I go down, and …
Speaker 1: Let me turn the question around actually, because maybe everyone agrees. Does anyone click on the ads? The things that look like search results, but say ad? No?
Blanche: No. I’ll just say, I quit using Yahoo which is my email, to search because it has lots of ads before you can finally … If you ever find what you’re looking for, which really annoys me.
Speaker 1: Right. Let me just play this back to you. I think the consensus is, for many situations, we go to Google first. Except sometimes we go to friends. When we’re on Google, we ignore all the paid links at the top and we go straight to the search. The first such thing that says it’s not an ad. Does anyone disagree with that statement?
Blanche: Right. [inaudible 00:05:23] official …
Speaker 1: All right. That’s good. That’s just helping us understand the context for what goes on.
How do you decide you can trust?
Now, imagine that out of that process, you suddenly discover that the answer to what you were looking for is some new company you’ve never heard of before. It’s not IBM or Apple. It’s some company XYZ, and you go, “I’ve never heard of that.” What we’re wondering about is, how do you decide if you can trust whatever they say on their website, or whether their product is going to be any good? How do you decide you’re comfortable dealing with some new company?
Speaker 14: I think one of the things that I look for is a return policy.
Speaker 1: That’s if it’s a product, I suppose?
Speaker 14: Yeah.
Speaker 1: Return policy. That’s a good one. Who else?
Blanche: I’ll see if it’s available on Amazon, and if so, then I look at the reviews.
Speaker 1: Do you? You basically check out their credibility based on their reviews on Amazon?
Speaker 1: Joe, [crosstalk 00:06:27].
Joe: I look at the history of the company. Maybe this company has been around for a while and I just didn’t know about it. I also look for other partners that they might have.
Speaker 1: I see.
Joe: So that I can get some idea, so that I can recognize maybe one of those companies.
Speaker 1: Credibility by association somehow?
Speaker 1: Who else? Ron.
Ron: I look at as many of the below the ad items. I look at the first impression that I get of the website. If it appeals to me, or it speaks to my interest, and doesn’t strike [inaudible 00:07:12] other things. Then, I let myself be influenced by the job they did in putting that website together.
Speaker 1: We’re going to come back to that, so hold that thought. What about the company that’s behind it? How do you decide if you like that?
Ron: Generally, there’s stuff I move for that. Identity isn’t all that significant-
Speaker 1: Is that right?
Ron: When they’re off these things.
Speaker 1: Steve.
Steve: I do a process like Blanche does. You’re looking for something, it pops up under a company you’ve never heard of. If you see … If Amazon carries that product, then you get a trace history. Back up is, I go to Wikipedia, see if Wikipedia has ever heard of it, and what they say. That helps me put some judgment on, but at least, if they have some write-up about it, you have this company that was formed in yada-yada-yada, these are their principles yada-yada, that gives me some more information.
Speaker 1: One sec, Lynn. Wells.
Wells: If it’s a drug company, I’m looking for a drug and I’ve never heard of the company, I’ll go to the management, I’ll go to the board, I’ll go their financial information and see who their partners are. There’s a lot you can tell. If they don’t have that, then [inaudible 00:08:36] quite a bit online that verifies.
Speaker 1: Right. You’re looking for fellow travelers that look credible, somehow.
Wells: Well, I’m looking if the company is a real one, and if it has real financials, and prestigious-
Speaker 1: Based on what they put on their website, really.
Wells: Yeah. I double check that with other sites.
Speaker 1: Sure. Lynn.
Lynn: I actually am very suspicious of a new company, and I will think twice before I introduce myself on my laptop to a new company. I’ll often get out and then google the new company. I’ll re-google to see what else people have said about this new company. Sometimes, Yelp will have a conversation with me. Sometimes.
Speaker 1: Because you trust Yelp or what?
Speaker 1: It’s relevant though, right?
Lynn: Yeah. Every once in a while.
Speaker 1: Karen, did you want to say something?
Karen: Yes. If you’re really interested in that company, you can go to the public library site, and you can look at all the business journals, start-ups. You can do queries for newspaper articles on start-ups, because if it’s a company with any credibility, [inaudible 00:09:51], it’ll be in the media before it actually becomes like a public company, especially like a financial institution. You can get a lot of information even two years before it actually becomes a bonafide company.
Speaker 1: That’s kind of social proof, I think. Isn’t it?
Karen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Speaker 1: That you’re seeing it being written about and stuff.
Karen: Well, in business journals and blogs people are talking about it. Then, you get a sense of what other entities in the field are saying about the particular company that you’re looking into.
Speaker 1: Who hasn’t had a go? Rich, have you had a go?
Rich: I agree with what everybody said. I tend to skip over the paid ads. Thinking about that, I guess that’s probably a little bit closed-minded, but I will use Wikipedia, I will use just another Google exercise if it’s a new company. I tend to look for reviews. I tend to look for the Better Business Bureau.
Speaker 1: Do you?
Blanche: Right, me too.
Speaker 1: We had two Better Business Bureau there. Actually, before I go on. Who else finds Better Business Bureau useful?
Buck: Well, I was going to mention another source. Often, there’s news announcements on their websites. I’m looking at what those announcements are, and I’m looking at the credibility of who made the announcement. Along with the announcement, there usually is a few sentences about the company, and how they’re funded. If it’s new company. If they’re intra-funded, or some other possibility.
Speaker 1: Naomi.
Naomi: Well, recently I had a situation. I was looking for a particular size and type of refrigerator. I went over to one of the main places that has tons of every brand you can think of. There was the size. I was looking at it, and I’m seeing this particular manufacturer. Never heard of it. Chinese company, and I’m going, “Okay. That’s a plus or a minus.”
Speaker 1: Which is it? A plus or a minus?
Naomi: Well, who are they, what is it? Just because it isn’t, just because the price, reliability, a bunch of things, is it gonna stand up so well? He said to me, “Well, they bought GE products.” I said, “What? Then, I went back to the computer and I went with a Google starting with the whole thing. It was very interesting. I said, “Well, I had a whole thing that said who is or what is this name?” Indeed, there was the whole history of a buyout and what GE was doing. It was big bucks. One of the largest appliance companies in the world.
Speaker 1: When you did all that, did you decide that that meant you trusted it or what?
Naomi: Well, I felt more comfortable with it.
Speaker 1: Because it was connected to GE somehow?
Naomi: It also gives me a clue what’s going on. There’s a discussion. In many cases, they were keeping the manufacturing in the states.
Speaker 1: It was the connection with the brand GE that made you feel more positive?
Naomi: Well, it made me look into it, certainly.
Speaker 1: That’s good. Marion, what about you? How do you decide whether a new company that you discovered that looks promising is one you actually want to do something with?
Marion: I haven’t run into that lately, but I have gone in the past. I have looked at Better Business Bureau.
Speaker 1: Have you?
Marion: Yeah. Trying to figure out if a company is … I did that more when I had a house. That was buying things in the house, but it was an apartment. It’s hopefully not necessary.
Speaker 1: Is that because you’ve got some nine places you go to buy things, and therefore the concept of a new entity doesn’t come up? Is that-
Marion: I guess I’m in a different stage or something, but that’s what I would do if it comes up again.
Speaker 1: Say that again. What would you do?
Marion: Well, if I was seriously looking into a product where I didn’t know the company, but it sounded like a promising product, I would look up the Better Business Bureau.
Speaker 1: Would you?
Speaker 1: Steve.
Steve: I have some jaundice view of Better Business Bureau. It’s a personal experience, but if they say a company’s bad, it’s probably bad. If they say it’s okay, I claim they don’t know. I claim that they are not as up-to-date as a lot of the online facilities that you have. BBB seems to be caught way behind.
Blanche: I agree. What I’m looking for is if they’ve got any bad marks.
Steve: If it’s bad then you know it’s bad.
Blanche: The other thing is, since we’re talking about big appliances, I have that Consumer Reports online, so I look at that big time.
Speaker 1: Do you trust that?
Blanche: Oh yeah, I do trust that. I use them to buy cars, you name it.
Speaker 7: I was going to say Consumer Reports.
Speaker 1: Were you? Product type stuff, I guess. Buck, what about you? If you’ve discovered you’ve found this new company, and it looks promising. You think you might want to buy whatever they’ve got. How do you decide if you’re going to like them or not?
Buck: Well, I think it depends on what’s the product. In some cases, I don’t even care who makes it.
Speaker 1: What would be an example where you don’t really care.
Buck: Maybe a camera product that could be just a widget.
Speaker 1: What would be an example where you do care?
Buck: Where I do care? Well, I feel for certain if it was a major item, like a camera itself, then I would certainly look …
Speaker 1: If it’s the lens cap, you don’t care, and if it’s the actual camera you care. Is that the way you think about it?
Buck: That’s right. That’s exactly correct.
Speaker 1: If it was the camera, how do you go about deciding whether you want to do business with this company.
Buck: Well, over time I guess you fall in love with a certain product.
Speaker 1: What if it’s new and you’ve never heard about it before?
Buck: Then, it depends on what is their return policy, or if you have some other means of either a camera store or some kind of means to compare. Camera club, and something like that that might know something about it.
Speaker 1: Some sort of reference type place.
Buck: Correct. Then, maybe you would go to the Consumer Reports, and/or some other means of googling and find out who is behind the product itself.
Speaker 1: Go ahead.
Speaker 3: What I want in a new website is a phone number real prominent because I [inaudible 00:17:17].
Speaker 1: You want to call them up?
Speaker 3: I want to call them up. I always had a question, and there’s no way I can see to answer the question. I would love the phone number to say, here I am and I’m stuck.
Speaker 1: What if it’s an email, is that [inaudible 00:17:33]?
Speaker 3: I’ll take an email also.
Speaker 1: You sound like you like the phone number better.
Speaker 3: Because I’ve invested some time and energy to at least get one or two screens in. If I’m trying to buy something, inevitably, I just I’m … I break things.
What about when you are shopping for a financial product or service?
Speaker 1: I just want to pull back a little bit. I just want to move on slightly. Actually, that was the example, even though I kind of find that question a bit vaguely, intentionally. You mostly talked about buying products. That’s fine. That was useful, but now I want you to think about, what if it’s a financial service? What if you’re buying some insurance product or a place to keep your money or CD, and it’s a new company you’ve never heard of. How do you go about that? I see Lynn shaking your head. What’s happening?
Lynn: I have to have eyeball to eyeball financials.
Speaker 1: Eyeball top eyeball. What about everyone else?
Speaker 5: I’ve been downing into [inaudible 00:18:35].
Speaker 1: Have you?
Speaker 5: Yes.
Speaker 1: Exotic.
Speaker 5: I work for free trials.
Speaker 1: Free trials.
Speaker 5: I see everything is full. The trial process makes no sense to me, and if it’s contact information, specifically from, I want to be able to speak to somebody. If I don’t understand something in this [inaudible 00:19:01], how they respond.
Speaker 1: Is there an element of deciding whether the basic company is one you want to do business with?
Speaker 5: Not until I see the product, and then if I get [inaudible 00:19:12] every day with products from them, I answer to these products.
Speaker 1: You’ll try out almost anything once and see how it goes? Is that what you’re saying?
Speaker 5: Pretty much so.
Speaker 1: That’s interesting. Who else if it’s a financial service? I see you thinking of [inaudible 00:19:29] back.
Speaker 6: I can’t remember any switch to financial services, not very much. I tend to do a statement that you are familiar with and satisfaction of years. [inaudible 00:19:55] remember.
Buck: I want to be a little more detailed here. I like to see a friendly website as such. By that I mean, we’re talking about financial services, I would like to see for a customer service number. Specifically customer service-
Speaker 1: You want to talk to customer service.
Buck: That’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for customer service. I’m not looking for someone top answer the phone and say, “Hello.” I’m looking for somebody to [inaudible 00:20:24]. As we’ve said here, inevitably I’m going to ask some questions. I want to talk to somebody who represents the company, and knows the company and can answer my question. That’s probably the most important thing.
Speaker 1: That’s good.
Buck: At least I got a [inaudible 00:20:39] to call a number. He must have been interested in something.
Speaker 1: Something presumably got you to that point, to go to the website.
Buck: That’s it.
Speaker 13: I have a financial consultant, but I did run into this recently because this consulting company which I [inaudible 00:20:58] moved from one investment company to another because one, they were using a path … Got bought out by a different company and they weren’t happy with. Anyway, they did move. They moved to this new company that I’ve never heard of. I did discuss it with the financial consultant, but that still didn’t feel like quite enough. Of course, I checked the website of this new company, but I also did what I heard some people were mentioning of looking around the other Google entries about that outfit.
Speaker 13: Then I learned the thing has been around forever. I’ve never heard of it, and it’s [inaudible 00:21:43] and everything else. I just want to support what the two of you have said about this phone number because it’s so important. I don’t want to see any chat. I don’t want to use a chat even if they have chat. If I’m on that website, and I’m having trouble negotiating, then I’d really want to talk to someone because it just takes a little few minutes for me to get the hang of whatever it is that I need to learn to negotiate and navigate, I guess is the right word. I don’t want to be waiting around or some chat person. They are [inaudible 00:22:27]. It doesn’t work.
Speaker 1: It’s thumbs down on chat. Karen.
Karen: Two things. First of all, if you have somebody on the phone, you would want them to be articulate and speak English well, because so many times you’re on the phone and you spend too much time trying to tell them what you want, whatever reason. I felt the same way you did about chat that I just recently started using it and I love it now because you just put down what you want and then-
Speaker 1: We’ve got one thumbs up for chat, a few thumbs down.[crosstalk 00:22:58]. Several people like chat.
Speaker 3: I’ll use chat depending on-
Speaker 2: From [inaudible 00:23:03] to be certain.
Speaker 1: Right. Like inquiries, for example.
Speaker 2: Some of your computer problems or software problems. That can be very much more efficient.
Speaker 1: Let’s pull back from the chat and the phone because that was all very useful, but maybe we’ve made that point.
Ross: Can I just make a point?
Speaker 1: Yeah. Please do.
Ross: I think more important that the word you’re using for the chat is the quality with the person you’re communicating.
Speaker 1: The front line person that you end up with.
Speaker 4: I think chat is like texting depending on who you got on the other end, and what your conversation is. That maybe …
Speaker 1: Let’s just pull back a bit though. We’ve surfaced quite a few things about how we decided we want to do with this hypothetical financial company that you’ve never heard of. Is there anything else we didn’t talk about that’s super important? Steve.
Steve: It depends. If you’re looking for where are you going to put major box-
Speaker 1: For example?
Steve: Like an island or something like that. I want to be associated with a broker. That’s for me to meet him eyeball, eyeball. He’s my broker. If I had any problems, I call him and he will fix it.
Speaker 1: You actually want customer service?
Steve: Yes. I want a person I can contact and have him resolve the issues. Especially like when you get a tax return time and they send you over this stuff, and some of it looks wrong, and you’ve got two days to fix it. That guy will fix it. I won’t put any major bucks here unless I have a broker. A personal relationship with a broker.
Speaker 1: If it sounds promising, but you’ve never worked with this company before, how do you decide that they’re going to have a good broker and that they’re going to do all the other things that everyone talked about?
Steve: First, you could talk to them.
Speaker 1: Do you?
Steve: I believe you haven’t been [crosstalk 00:24:59]. That’s part of it. You can ask tough questions and see how they respond.
Speaker 1: When you say go talk to them, what does that mean exactly?
Steve: It means usually that there’s a branch-
Speaker 1: That’s it? I was wondering if that’s what you meant.
Steve: That you can get to. If you can’t get to a local branch then I don’t know. To me, if it’s out in cyberspace somewhere, it’s not guaranteed. To me, it’s much more reliable if you have a body that you can associate with.
Speaker 1: That’s an interesting topic. This whole question of does it … This is very much still on this financial company type concept. Whether it has a branch or whether it’s just in cyberspace, who else thinks that’s important?
Speaker 4: I do.
Speaker 1: Who does not? Tell us why.
Wells: Having a branch, we’ve [inaudible 00:25:58] for years and years. We are finding the [inaudible 00:26:01] so fast. They are a lot [inaudible 00:26:06]. That shouldn’t be.
Speaker 1: Having a branch doesn’t prevent them doing something bad. Is that the first point?
Wells: Yes. If I can check them out online, and they seem to [inaudible 00:26:15] legitimate business and all that kind of thing, I can do business with them.
Speaker 1: You feel the need to check them out, but not necessarily by going to a branch?
Speaker 1: Is that the key point? How about Rich. What do you want to say?
Rich: I’m probably saying [inaudible 00:26:27] branch is have the unusual situations with … I think more important is doing the online research. I think I have a significant plan if you want to do a significant research in the university and in-depth, and more rankings, and the financial process and what not.
Speaker 1: Buck.
Buck: I think if you’re going to fuel it with people’s money or your own money, you need to have somebody that has the credentials that can handle it and do [inaudible 00:27:07] for you. Before you have then deals with whoever you are dealing with, you need to check that out also, whether they are going to deal with, and what is their services. Is it to benefit them for their commission, or it’s to benefit you to go buy their services. If you pay them for their service, then they should represent you and have the fiduciary responsibility. If it isn’t, then it’s a different issue, and then they need to do some research on the norm and the outside of that.
Speaker 1: You actually want to understand the whole business model to make sure that it’s aligned with your interests?
Buck: Absolutely. You need to understand, where is the money going. Where is it going. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily make the right decision. [crosstalk 00:27:58].
Karen: I second that.
Speaker 1: Do you?
Karen: Yeah. I really question what [inaudible 00:28:06].
Speaker 1: Do you?
Karen: Really did on the supply. Do you have enough money that you don’t have to tune it? I’m not interested.
Speaker 1: That’s a good one. Lynn.
Lynn: For me, I think the branch is not the physical walk into Wells Fargo at the Market Street, because that’s an old model. A branch for me is the person who has the knowledge of the company, who possibly even will come to my condo with a laptop, or pizza, coffee shop.
Speaker 1: You want to see a person, but you don’t really care whether it is bricks and mortar. Is that the whole model?
Lynn: I would trust the person to understand how he or she will look back to the mother ship of the company.
Speaker 1: Interesting. [crosstalk 00:28:57].
Speaker 22: I don’t see a difference between brokers and trading platforms.
Speaker 1: There is, of course.
Speaker 22: I think you’ll agree that a broker is necessary. Someone you can trust, but when I was talking about [inaudible 00:29:12] history and I was talking about [inaudible 00:29:14].
Speaker 1: A platform. I understand.
Speaker 22: They’re not always out there with the truth. One of them I was looking at, it turned out I couldn’t use because I have a Mac and it was only good for a PC.
Speaker 1: Right.
Speaker 4: Really?
Speaker 22: Yeah.
Mental checklist of what you look for before doing a transaction?
Speaker 1: This is a slight step sideways, but I wanted to ask this. It’s related again to this whole financial services, new company stuff. Suppose that you find it and you check it out using all the different ways that everybody mentioned. Looks promising you met the person if you cared about that, and you decided you either want to apply for their service or you want to do a transaction for the first time. Is there a mental checklist of things you look for before going ahead?
Blanche: I would say that how you manage your account, for example. If you were going to say invest $100,000 in some company, I would like to know before doing that, what kind of website they have that I can look at, like history, et cetera. More detail about it.
Speaker 1: To know whether they’re spreading a check in. Go on.
Blanche: I would want to be able, and will I be able to move my money around easily and all that I have?
Speaker 1: Your checklist is understanding all the possible things they might have down the line, it sounds like.
Blanche: What you could do and how easily you can do them.
Speaker 1: Who else has a checklist for their transactions?
Speaker 15: Fees are going to get [inaudible 00:30:50].
Speaker 1: Fees. That’s one thing on the list. Steve.
Steve: I’d like the website to be 24 by seven, and immediately show the transactions. The transaction that will happen until the next day because of trading hours, I want to see that. I want to see the case to the trade happen. I don’t want to wait two or three days to see what’s going on. I believe that all that stuff ought to be real time as possible. If it depends on when markets open, that’s fine, but if I deposit money from a bank through wire transfer, I want to see it leave my bank. I want to see there at the same time. I want anything fluid.
Part B: Website design
How do you discover what a website is about?
Speaker 1: Let’s move on. That was very helpful. We’re going to switch gears now from the big picture stuff to more on website specific things. Here’s my first area I want to talk a bit about. When you discover a new website, it doesn’t have to be a new company, but has to be new website that you’re not familiar with. How do you discover what exactly the website and the company are all about? In other words, what do you do exactly?
Marion: I go to, about us.
Speaker 1: About us. What else?
Speaker 5: That’s right. Even the, about us [inaudible 00:32:05].
Speaker 1: Who else?
Ross: About us, my local [inaudible 00:32:10] settings and I see our [inaudible 00:32:13] world and the queen. Something that could drive me to be nuts, but AT&T has the worst website. It’s slow. Absolutely terrible. They’re a big company, and the company is probably … They get on the phone, their website. That fits them all.
Speaker 1: All of you filled a survey where you gave fascinating information about some good and some bad websites. We’re probably not going to talk about that a lot today. That exact, like specific examples like you just gave, but that’s … It’s not because we don’t care. It’s because you already mentioned quite a lot, but that’s good though. We’re back to this. How do you discover what the company and the website are all about? We had several different inputs, but who else has a different point of view?
Karen: Google as well.
Speaker 1: Can you?
Karen: I think what other people have ask you to say, but you understand.
Speaker 1: This is not so much about the company [inaudible 00:33:08]. This is more about the website itself.
Speaker 15: Probably [inaudible 00:33:11].
Karen: Probably it’s easy to navigate.
Speaker 1: We are going to come back to that.
Karen: All right.
Speaker 1: All right.
Karen: Contact information as [inaudible 00:33:18] about.
Speaker 1: Same things as before, I understand.
Speaker 1: What if I just find it?
Speaker 15: Start up and the homepage.
Speaker 1: There you go.
Speaker 15: Then, I look at the top and see what the other categories are, that you go to. If I don’t find one that I think I already find, and I’m happy about it. That’s how I do it. I check out all those differences.
Speaker 1: Is your picture that looking at those various different menu items should give you a big picture of what the whole thing’s meant to be about, because they are looking at it?
Speaker 15: Yes. Right.
Steve: I make the [inaudible 00:33:53]. It’s probably on the logon page. Where do you go from there and then pitch stuff. What I would typically do on a particular day and then see how many clicks it takes me to get to where-
Speaker 1: Dan?
Steve: I’ll view that information. If I have to go with eight deep to find out my account balance, that’s probably not good. That the layout … The actual layout of the work page critical. Well designed, but that seems that wrong. They know what most people want, and how to get there quickly.
Speaker 1: So far, we surveilled all the obvious menu links. We haven’t looked at the badass stuff, and that’s meant to give us a pretty good flavor in lour minds. Is there anything different that didn’t come out here?
Speaker 3: Yeah. It’s a [inaudible 00:34:46].
Speaker 1: What do you mean by that? What’s an example?
Speaker 3: If it’s an organization, does it have relevant information of the address, where it’s supposed to go, and is the timing correct?
Speaker 1: Does it seem like it’s up-to-date?
Speaker 3: Yeah. The time is not from last week’s event, but from the future one or the little one, I think.
Speaker 1: A good point. Anything, Lynn?
What about Videos on websites?
Lynn: Sometimes a new website will volunteer a video. I actually find that sometimes okay and interesting.
Speaker 1: Do you?
Lynn: To get a short visual clip.
Speaker 1: You watched them, the videos?
Lynn: I have occasionally, which surprises me, because it’s not a static screen where I have to go do something. Somebody is coming to me audioly and visually, and that makes it … I appreciate that.
Speaker 1: Ross. One second. Ross.
Ross: The word that comes to mind is intuitive. It should be easy to navigate. It should make sense, and the other is it’s not too cluttered. It’s absolutely intuitive. I like the idea of tutorial videos very, very much. Of course, tutorial videos can be too long. It should be concise. I think just maybe a good picture, but I do like the videos. That’s why I’m saying there are more of [inaudible 00:36:26].
Speaker 5: I was going to say that I like the choice between video and transcript.
Speaker 1: Do you?
Speaker 5: So I don’t have to go through all that beginning stuff and promotion stuff, and get that [inaudible 00:36:40]. I usually choose the transcript.
Speaker 1: All right. Steve.
Steve: I prefer transcripts because I can scan it faster. I don’t want to wait in real time while somebody is talking. I can read a hell of a lot faster and I can process information faster.
Speaker 5: Exactly.
Speaker 1: Karen.
Karen: This is just general, but so many people talk about a telephone number, and there are so many sites where you cannot find a telephone number. I think the, contact us, everything down at the bottom. It’s never a place where you can find easily a telephone number.
Speaker 1: Right.
Ross: There are also a lot of sites where you can’t even find an address.
Karen: Right. Exactly. Which makes me wonder where they are. [crosstalk 00:37:25].
Do you approach an information-type website differently from a buying-type website?
Speaker 1: Interesting. Let’s just pull back from that a bit because next, I’m just wondering if anything you just said about how you discover what’s on the website, looking at the menus, all those things, whether it would be different if we were focusing on websites that let you do transactions, such as buying things like Amazon, for example, or sending money, or doing banking compared to websites which are mainly about providing information, like Wikipedia or one of those sort of things. Do we think about the way a website should tell us what it’s about differently if it’s an information site versus if it’s a buying type site?
Speaker 4: I would say that that’s a determining factor.
Speaker 1: What’s different about them from the point of view of how you think about them?
Speaker 4: If it’s an organizational thing, it should be talking about the organization, and what they do, and how to get the information. If you’re talking about a piece of software that you’re trying to learn how work with it, it’s nice to have the video that says, you open it up and you do certain things. I just had an incident where I had to change the battery in my key. I clicked on the link and the lady that operates the site from a car dealership, literally, they showed you exactly what to do. After that, it was obviously a no brainer. Before, we have been doing something like that and then you tend to think that you know how to do it, and then the next thing, she got four broken pieces.
Speaker 1: That’s good. Who else was wanting to say something that …
Naomi: If you wanted to, what you looked for in Amazon-
Speaker 1: I’m wondering if you think about something like Amazon differently than something like Wikipedia.
Naomi: With that, you want to be able to do a quick search. You want to see the search so you can get where the product is currently, and then they get through it and then they should have all the relevant information and their reviews. That should all be easily navigated. Then, the purchase part. I run into problems on some of these things where it’s hard to buy it. You have to wonder why are they … They’re expensive for the work. Anyway, it should be easier to purchase. The card [inaudible 00:40:02].
Speaker 1: The whole transactional flow you’re talking about-
Naomi: Flow really easily.
Speaker 1: Ron, you wanted to say something.
Ron: Make a distinction between information and transaction to one side. Taking in my point of view, I think you can do this from [inaudible 00:40:26]. You divide it and at the [inaudible 00:40:28] is from the point of view of what they want to knowledge.
Speaker 1: Right.
Ron: If I have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out where to find something, that’s a negative, be that information or a transaction. If I see the things they got situated, they’d be easily [inaudible 00:40:51] in what I wan to do, and then I do not. I think that the impression that the red flag means with me is they are concerned about making what I want to do easier rather than when somebody does [inaudible 00:41:12] job that’s on their website, and whatever. There is this [inaudible 00:41:19] throughout. How we usually navigate, how we usually just make ends meet. The actual layout of the website, how you find information, how you come to the transaction has to be consistent. I’m dealing with my problem. Not with theirs.
Speaker 1: Right.
Ron: That to me is [inaudible 00:41:47]. If I see the website which is in any way confusing, then I say [inaudible 00:41:55] and ask anybody the team worked before.
What do you mean if you say a website is “confusing” or “complicated”?
Speaker 1: I want to build on that and in general ask you all, because you used the word confusing. In the survey that you all filled out, a number of people said that when the website is confusing or complicated, they didn’t like it. What I want to just listen for, is what does that mean exactly? You probably all think it means something a bit different. You talked about it just now on that. Confusing and complicated. Talk to us about what that means. Wells.
Wells: To follow on that a little bit. If I’m looking for a product, I usually find that, but if I’m doing research, there are various levels of information. I’ll go to Google Scholar and look at various research papers on clinical trial. Stuff like that. There’s various levels of information that I might I go to. They could be very complicated, but that’s what I’m looking for. If I’m looking for a product and it reads like a scientific article, that’s terrible.
Speaker 1: Complicated-
Wells: They should be more straight forward. I’m going to be looking for a specific type. Specific characteristics that I’m looking for.
Speaker 1: I think you’re saying the amount of complicatedness needs to be matched to what you’re trying to do. It might be okay to be complicated but not if it’s wrong. That’s a different word than confusing, isn’t it? You’re not talking about confusing. Lynn.
Lynn: As I have been listening, I got clearer and then I think there’s a vast difference between product and-
Speaker 1: Knowledge.
Lynn: Knowledge. In product, I could probably buy something in two, three, four minutes, but on knowledge based side, particularly financial planning or if somebody wants that with me. I was thinking about Apple, and my brother who said, “Apple was a genius because you could get it, and you could start small when you’re looking and you could use it. The, if you wanted more, there’s a layer behind that, and then there’s a layer behind that, and then there’s a layer behind that.” I think the website for financials for me wouldn’t be that model.
Speaker 1: The layers?
Lynn: The layers, because I would spend maybe an hour there, or two hours if I was going to give somebody $100,000.
Speaker 1: How does that map onto the words confusing and complicated?
Lynn: I think that the first blush in trying to be as simple as possible on either, but knowing that on the second one, there is complexity as you dive deeper because it’s a much more serious decision making process for me.
Speaker 1: You’re taking about-
Lynn: It’s a lot more.
Speaker 1: It can be complicated, it can be confusing, and the complication might want to come in layers?
Speaker 1: That’s kind of what you’re saying?
Lynn: That’s what I would like.
Speaker 1: All right.
Ross: The confusing thing which is about my AT&T example. That is the most confusing.
Speaker 1: This is a good time to talk about that. What’s confusing about it?
Ross: Well, for instance, if I want to put someone else in my microcell, in my [inaudible 00:45:03] in the country, I think you can go through five different pages and find out how will you do that. It’s confusing. It’s a simple thing like writing a name and a phone number, but to get to that is at least five course. That’s confusing.
Speaker 1: In that sense, it sounds like confusing a little bit the way Ron talked about. The fact that it wasn’t helping you accomplish what you wanted to accomplish in a simple, obvious way.
Speaker 1: Yes. Karen.
Karen: Dropdown menus. For example, what you want to do, you go to the dropdown menu and it’s not there, and then you go to another one, and then you-
Speaker 1: What do you mean it’s not there?
Karen: Let’s say you are-
Ross: It’s somewhere else.
Karen: It’s not like to say you’re-
Speaker 1: What’s not there?
Karen: What you are looking for.
Speaker 1: There is a dropdown menu but it doesn’t contain the item you’re looking for?
Karen: I was going to transfer funds and say one [inaudible 00:45:58]. I don’t know. This might be-
Speaker 1: Sure.
Karen: There is no place to do it.
Speaker 1: I see.
Karen: Then, you have to go maybe to retirement bonds, and then there’s … You know what I mean. You’re always doing all these different.
Speaker 1: This is an example of confusing. Is that right?
Speaker 4: Another elephant, neither confusing nor complicated, but convenient.
Speaker 1: Talk more about that.
Speaker 4: I sometimes download sample of books to see how I want to read the book. I finish the book, and you would expect that when you finish the book, that you have an option to register it if you like it. You don’t. I was-
Speaker 1: That’s an example of what?
Speaker 4: That’s an example of ridiculous.
Speaker 1: Of not convenience.
Speaker 4: Of not convenient. You have to go back to Amazon and then order the book.
Speaker 1: It’s a good one.
Speaker 4: Whereas all you have to do is click and say, yes, I’m not buying.
Speaker 1: Blanche, id you want to say something about it?
Blanche: I have a similar example on the confusing department, and this is getting back to a financial website.
Speaker 1: That’s good.
Blanche: I’ve had a couple of experiences already with financial websites where I could set up easily of transferring from my checking account to that side and vice versa. You can move your money around. No big problem. I can go [inaudible 00:47:27]. I include the money, everything is going great. Then, I get this new one that I mentioned. This new financial site. I had on it … I’m not even going to go ahead and get it paid, but I’m on it. Just with what you were saying about, the drop downs don’t have … Transfer funds, it seems like an obvious thing. I couldn’t find it and the language … Finally, I called my fiscal person and get them to walk me through it.
Blanche: I went through about three or four different links, and the language of those links was not interesting whatsoever. I never would have. Maybe it was if you were selling 30. I thought about this. Maybe there’s a new way of saying, I’m so in love. That works for people in their 30s, but it shouldn’t … With this person on the line, it took us a half hour. I finally got it, so I’m happy to report it. I never would have [inaudible 00:48:36] about this [inaudible 00:48:36].
Speaker 1: That’s another confusing example, right?
Blanche: Very confusing.
Speaker 1: Any other examples, confusing and complicated? Lovely. Naomi.
Naomi: There is the case of choosing government forms. Right now, I’m trying to get or to find out if there are … Rental. I’ve just started. There is some question of how much … What’s the regulation file-wise besides the little tanks which you can … That I’m talking about. We started with one. It would be good that you got an okay from the fire marshal. You call, nobody answers. I figured. All right. I’m going to have to walk my way through this thing. I’m going to probably walk my way through this city hall. No. It’s in this. Fine. Why couldn’t you say this is another thing?
Speaker 1: This is an example of confusing where you have to go through this labyrinth of stuff and it’s not clear upfront. That’s a good example.
Naomi: You’re going through all of the different sites online and they don’t need you.
Speaker 1: That’s good. That’s perfect. Let me stop you there now because that’s really good. Rich.
Rich: I was just thinking about website design and how with the transfer of funds, there are different quarters of [inaudible 00:50:00], and if you are using a search site or the search feature, it would be nice if the web designers could think of all the different ways that people would say that want, just so it’d be easier.
Speaker 1: So that they all traded the answer, you mean?
Rich: So that however you’re thinking, they will cover that [inaudible 00:50:23].
Marion: Key words would be what [inaudible 00:50:26].
What do we think about the ability to search within a website?
Speaker 1: You mentioned search. I just want to piggyback on that because there’s google searching, of course, of the internet. We’re not talking about that, but when you’re actually on a website and there’s a little box in the corner that says Search, who uses that search box?
Joe: I know I do.
Speaker 4: I do.
Speaker 1: Everyone, okay.
Ross: I’ve got to be there [inaudible 00:50:45].
Speaker 1: Who thinks it’s super important put at the end?
Lynn: Yeah, [inaudible 00:50:51].
Speaker 1: Everyone thinks it’s important. Okay. Do you expect to be able to find what you want when you type in some random thing?
Speaker 2: Well, [crosstalk 00:50:59] website. Some websites have good search features and some are just …
Speaker 1: Is that important?
Speaker 2: Yes, absolutely.
Speaker 4: Yes.
Karen: That is imp.
Ross: Sometimes if you reverse the words, it’s [inaudible 00:51:14] reverse it. Differently, the same words don’t work.
Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah. Show up. All right.
Lynn: Or they’re to answer a question with “Go to frequently asked questions,” and what are the chances that you’re going to find your question there?
Speaker 1: Zero probably, right?
Lynn: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Speaker 1: Okay. So, you don’t like to frequently ask questions.
Lynn: It’s interesting to look at, because sometimes it’s like, “[inaudible 00:51:38], I better worry about that.”
Speaker 4: That shouldn’t be the only option.
What do we mean by “good” and “bad” navigation?
Speaker 1: Let’s switch gears a little bit. A lot of people in the survey mentioned navigation as the important aspect of kind of goodness and badness in a website. That’s all very well. I’m sure that’s correct, but we want to understand what about the navigation makes it good or bad. Particularly, either one really, and what that means. Who’s got some thoughts about what good navigation is, what bad navigation is, or examples, or anything?
Joe: I’ve got example. I have just a terrible experience with Mint.
Speaker 1: With Mint.
Joe: Multiple, multiple layers, with a terrible experience. In one or two, they have different functional pages and in order to do a function … I wish I could remember. It’s been a while, but in order to do what function, you have to go to this page and an associated function, you had to go to a different place.
Speaker 1: What’s an example of a function when you use the word function? I’m not quite following.
Joe: A function is let’s say you wanted to sort all the restaurants where you spent money.
Speaker 1: I see.
Joe: Something like that.
Speaker 1: There’d be a sorting page.
Joe: Yeah, but it wasn’t intuitive which page and which functions. That was a good example.
Speaker 1: Okay. Was that related to the navigation somehow or was that a different issue?
Joe: That’s a matter of navigating, because you’ve got these different functions that you want to do that are important functions and you need to be able to go clearly to the place where you need to do that function and not wonder if that should be here or here.
Speaker 1: I see. Got it. Who else has got an example?
Karen: One of the other things is that when you’re clicking and you want to get to a particular page and the ad will pop up.
Speaker 1: You don’t like that?
Karen: Not very much. It’s distracting and that’s time consuming. You have to exit out and you have to know it’s in there.
Speaker 1: Sure. Let’s stay off pop outside [inaudible 00:53:50], but I’m not sure there’s a lot to say there. One sec. Lynn.
Lynn: Sometimes you’re in a website and you go down and click on three or four things and then you want to use your back arrow to get back and all of a sudden it won’t let you go back more than two, but you’ve clicked five times. That’s to me a sort of a bug in navigating back as much as I want.
Speaker 1: You’re talking about using the back button on my browser or something?
Lynn: My browser, yeah. The safari browser.
Speaker 1: Is that the fault of the website. You’re not sure.
Lynn: I don’t know.
Speaker 1: Anyway, it’s something you don’t like. That’s good. Yeah, Blanche.
Blanche: Same thing. I’ll be doing that. You’re moving along trying to get the answer to whatever it is. You finally get the answer. You can’t get back to the page where you were on were [inaudible 00:54:39].
Lynn: [inaudible 00:54:40].
Blanche: It just won’t go back and you don’t seem to have the headings to go back to either and it’s very [inaudible 00:54:48].
Steve: There are some sites where they actually have in the site, “Return to the prior page,” which I just realized it’s probably one of the more desirable features [inaudible 00:54:59] the same problem [crosstalk 00:54:59].
Blanche: Yeah, or it says “Back.” That or-
Steve: Go back. Go back.
Naomi: A home page [inaudible 00:55:05] so you can get back [inaudible 00:55:07].
Wells: Sometimes you have something like that and it takes you out completely and you’ve got to start all over. Keiser is one good example. You’re in there-
Speaker 1: Because it spits you out.
Wells: Then you’ve got to look something else and all of a sudden you can’t get back to where you were at, and then you’ve got to start all over again.
Speaker 2: Richard, are we still talking to events specifically as it relates to seniors? Are we talking generally?
Speaker 1: It can be either. I think what we’re talking about is as it relates to the people in the room, so you might suggest that that would include both general and senior related things. We’re really trying to mention it from our point of view rather than anyone else.
Speaker 2: You don’t want to limit yourself to seniors-
Speaker 1: Not really, no, because I mean if it’s important to ask, it’s important, period. It might also be important to someone else, I guess.
Speaker 2: The point that the lady said, there are [inaudible 00:56:14] can bother me one way or the other, but today they do.
Speaker 1: Talk to us about those, some of them. I know you’ve a lot of us that [inaudible 00:56:24].
Speaker 2: Well, your visual apparatus works differently from the way before. Scrolling is very difficult to remember where it was to look at three pages back. I think that there’s a question of, what is it that the designer of the web page want us to accomplish? Does he want to pay attention to people or 70 or doesn’t? If he doesn’t, then there’s clearly a difference between the problems of young people and the problems that-
Speaker 1: Absolutely.
Speaker 2: Are we …?
Speaker 1: Well, the purpose of this is to uncover problems that … The things that are important for our product for 70 year olds or 80 year olds or whatever. That’s really why we’re doing it, but if it’s a problem that’s only for 80 year olds or a problem that’s for everyone, those are both relevant, right? So, if every website out there has problem X, the second way, not really distinguishing between whether it’s only important for 80 year olds or for 30 year olds.
Speaker 1: Okay. Karen.
Karen: I wanted to continue on the sorting. I think any financial website should have a very sophisticated sorting mechanism and there should be advanced searches. For example, you may want to know the positives from a certain place during a certain time span.
Speaker 1: You’re sort of talking about, for example, a checking account page or something.
Karen: Whenever, because you do searches and you get all this information and then you have too many times just sort it out yourself. So, definitely in a certain advanced search-
Speaker 1: That’s an argument for complicated, isn’t it?
Speaker 1: That’s an argument in favor of complicated-ness.
Karen: Actually it simplifies.
Speaker 1: Right.
Filling in some gaps
Speaker 1: Okay. We need to move on a little bit. We could obviously talk about all these things for hours and hours, and that would be fun. I’ve got a couple of kind of fill-in details that our colleagues over in the corner decided they’d love it if we could talk about a little bit more. Let’s come right back to the beginning where we were talking about how we decide how we find the answer to “How do I find a product that does X” or “a service that does X”?
Speaker 1: Several people said they like to talk to friends first. That was, not everyone say that, but some people did. The question is, how do you get in touch with those friends for a recommendation?
Speaker 2: Got the telephone.
Speaker 1: They get to telephone. That’s not a silly answer. That’s a good answer.
Speaker 2: I liked it though.
Speaker 1: That’s fine. That’s one point of view.
Speaker 6: Text them.
Speaker 1: Text them, you text them. Who else?
Ross: Send them an email.
Speaker 1: Send them an email. Okay. [inaudible 00:59:29].
Lynn: Peet’s Coffee Shop.
Speaker 1: Peet’s Coffee Shop. That’s interesting. You may meet them there anyway, and so you bring it up in conversation.
Speaker 1: Yeah. That’s a variety of different techniques. Were you looking for anything different? No. Okay, good. Then now … That was one of the little detail we wanted to fill in before we forgot. Then the other thing, we talked a bit about how some of you liked the video, an explanatory video. Some didn’t, but some did. If you do like it, the question is, do you prefer the video to pre-roll or it’d just be there for you to play if you want? I think what that means is you want it to stop automatically playing the minute you get on the page or wait until you push the button.
Marion: No. No.
Speaker 1: Does anyone want it to automatically [inaudible 01:00:21]?
Speaker 1: Put up your hand if you think that’s really a bad idea.
Karen: It’s a bad idea.
Blanche: It’s a bad idea to have it just start and you can’t and then it can be annoying.
Speaker 1: The reason is we want to control. Is that all right?
Speaker 2: The reason, we want to be ready for the information.
Speaker 1: Right. Exactly. We want it to come when we want it.
Speaker 4: [inaudible 01:00:43] last night I was going through planning something for kids interlocking and [inaudible 01:00:50] and it’s an extensive website and so forth. They give you the text below and some of the underline things and above there is, if you want it, [inaudible 01:01:06], but you have a choice.
Speaker 1: Right. Choice. Choice is good.
Speaker 4: The choice is on the same page. [inaudible 01:01:14].
Speaker 2: The other annoying part of that is that when you go to a video, the first thing that is an ad and you’ve got to sit there and wait for [inaudible 01:01:24].
Speaker 1: Okay. Enough on the videos. I think we’ve got a consensus there. So we don’t need to talk about it tomorrow. So that’s officially the end of the first piece of this session.
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