[A new story, “You Don’t Look That Old” is Not a Compliment, has been posted at blogher.org this morning.]
Michael Arrington at TechCrunch was complaining on Wednesday that the people who run websites and services for the “older crowd” are too condescending to their audience to succeed, especially the website, Eons:
“Founder Jeff Taylor is too young, at 45, to use his own site. Perhaps being out of touch with his target demographic has been what’s led Eons to mediocrity…”
That’s been my problem with Eons all along together with Arrington’s spot-on complaint about cRANKy, the Eons site search that is now trying to go big-time as a stand-alone search engine on the web:
“The site indexes about 5,000 sites that Compete.com says are popular with people over 45,” writes Arrington, “and focuses on less [sic] results because ‘the Eons Generation doesn’t like to wade through millions of search results.’
“…if less results is [sic] appealing to older people, the same would be the case for everyone. People like relevant results and lots of them. And if your search engine isn’t very deep, it’s a flaw, not a feature.”
True, true and true. When I tested cRANKy, I always wondered what I was not getting in the results.
Arrington headlined his story, “Do Older People Really Need Separate Websites?” After a decade of keeping my eye on what’s available online for elders, I’d have to answer – not if we’re stuck with the ones we have.
Eons is difficult to navigate, has no focus and pretends that being 50-plus is the same as being younger except they use the word “retire” a lot and post hundreds of games. But there is nothing there to engage our minds, nothing that gives us anything to think about.
Veteran elder website, thirdage.com, makes a similar error assuming that elders’ interests haven’t changed, in half a century of life, beyond Seventeen magazine-style headlines: Make Your Dreams Come True; Nine Sexy Ideas; Achieve Your Dreams; Ready to Be Rich?; 20 Ways to Heat Up Your Love Life, etc.
I’m embarrassed every time I stop by thirdage, and neither it nor Eons knows how to speak to elders. Both talk down either directly or in the nature of the content and whether they mean to or not, each makes me feel, in a dozen different ways, that they believe I am mentally challenged. That limited search engine is an example: they think I'm too stupid to sort through all the search returns Google would give me.
Just as there are sites that target mothers, teens, 20-somethings, college students and other age-related groups I think, in answer to Michael Arrington's question, there should be websites for elders too. I doubt, however, that there is a one-size-fits-all approach as Eons and thirdage try to be.
Elders are much more diverse within their cohort than many other groups of people and it could be that elder websites need to aim for niche audiences instead of the entire population. Either way, maybe next time someone who wants to dump several million dollars into building a website for elders will hire old people to develop and run it.
[Hat tip to Rana at Notes From an Eclectic Mind.]