By Ross Hollebon
Can the cult of coffee bean aficionados and brewing engineers help interactive developers and designers build a better mobile app for baby boomers? The 55–64 year olds (both trailing edge 18% and leading edge 13%) who make up 31% of the smart phone user base, certainly hope so.
A cup of coffee can be comforting and even necessary for someone starting their day. Some might confess they can’t even get through their day without a caffeine fix or two.
Many of these same people probably couldn’t fathom existing day-to-day without their mobile devices and the Smartphone applications available on them. Posting digital pictures of grandkids, texting with a son or daughter, or checking in on elder parents, the mobile device keeps boomers in the know.
Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices and various operating systems lead the charge for baby boomer mobile communication, empowering the user to choose what is right for them and their mobile needs.
Just like having numerous mobile devices to choose from, there are many options to get your caffeine fix. The design of some new home-brewing devices can be looked to for inspiration when working on mobile app development.
Immersion Active’s new Keurig B70 gourmet single cup coffee & tea brewing system requires special single serve K-Cups® to properly prepare the beverage of choice. It is similar to an iPhone or Android operating system in needing to meet defined specifications while running on the device.
User experience process with our new Keurig single cup coffee & tea brewing system:
• Select your single serve K-Cup®, in your favorite flavor, and place it in the brewer
• Make sure water is available in the reservoir (or add water)
• Place your cup on the drip tray (under the drink dispenser)
• Press the flashing “brew” button
• Enjoy a fresh, hot cup of coffee in under a minute
Keurig’s website promotes their process and user interface in the following way: “It’s as simple as it gets.”
This should also be the approach when planning and developing a mobile app for baby boomers.
Mobile app design for boomers
With the on-the-go, boomer user in mind, defining an app and staying true to its purpose is critical.
Any tool should be a solution for the user, completed in as few steps as possible while still being a valuable resource. It’s the same whether it’s a coffee maker or a mobile app.
Keurig understands their range of users and built their brewing systems with flexibility in mind. The drip tray is there to place a mug on and to keep things clean. But what about the person who needs to leave the house quickly? Simply remove the drip tray and place your to-go mug there instead.
The focus for mobile apps needs to stay on a consistent and intuitive user path providing bite-sized content to enhance the tool and its usefulness to the baby boomer. Like the brewing system, the fewer clicks the better as long as it culminates in a useful and expected end result.
Marketers can strive to be entertaining, useful or both with an app.
And it is because of this that each company must define what they hope to garner from their foray into the mobile app space. They can also use the process to gain experience in a new digital frontier whether it is developed internally or with an outside agency or vendor.
State a goal and develop your app according to that goal. If during the process your offering provides additional value, great, but remember not to get distracted and make it too busy or complicated.
Immersion Active sees 2011 as the year of the Smartphone for consumers 50+ as devices continue to provide more options at cheaper costs, so it is imperative to become educated in mobile language and user expectations in quick order.
So regardless of your preference for regular or decaffeinated, Apple or Android, iPhone or iPad, as long as it is defined well and maintains its integrity as a useful tool, baby boomers will be happy to get it and simplify their daily lives while marketers have a way to engage their target audience even when on the move.