Ann Voorhees BakerUseful Facts and Finds

Does Your Website Make You Look, Well… Elderly?

bad web design

bad web designA few weeks ago, I attacked my “entertainment center” – an archaic collection of massive electronic boxes, each sprouting 50 or 60 cables out of its back end. Or so it seemed. I’d been putting this off for years. Literally, years, even though nothing in the system was up to date or satisfactory. The old receiver could pick up radio but could not handle the signal from the cable box. The VCR was, well, a VCR. The DVD was OK but I never used it anymore. The Wii worked to get me onto Netflix and Youtube, but the point-click system with the wildly roving pointer was maddening. The surround-sound speakers were touch-and-go. The ultra cool infrared sensor system I’d installed so we could use just one remote had aged; the sticky pads on the little ladybug-like transmitters had lost their oomph and the glowing glass bugs were now scotch-taped to the face of each box. The A/B/C HDMI switch to manage which device “talked” to which worked only if you got out of your chair (heaven forfend!) and manually pushed the button on the box.

tangled wires - source albertocaicedoSo why had I not done something about this old equipment earlier? Well, according to the hoarding experts, I probably had a “fear of abundance,” a lack of confidence that I’d be able to replace all that I had, which made me hold onto things even though they no longer worked or worked well. I probably also had some depression-era-style guilt; my husband and I had spent a LOT of money on this stuff way back when. Just throw it away? Aieee! But I think the biggest reason for the years of inaction was that I was simply thinking like an old person – thinking in terms of the way the world was 15 or 20 years ago, not the way it is now. If it were 15 years ago, it would be a LOT of work and a BIG expense to replace and reconnect all of these various machines. I absolutely did NOT want to spend all that money and all that time again. That’s what was in my head.

But hello, it is not 15 years ago. It is now. Luckily, I was forced to think more clearly thanks to my newly developed obsession with clearing unnecessary stuff from my living space. In this new state of mind, I became acutely conscious of and very dissatisfied with this whole sorry collection that was tied together by a crazy spaghetti of dusty wires, so much so that I finally actually faced the annoying mess. And I actuallly considered the alternatives available to me. To my chagrin (and joy), I realized that the obvious, ridiculously easy and inexpensive alternative was a $35 Chromecast, the size of a thumb drive, that I could plug into one of the HDMI ports in the side of my TV.

So I took down the old speakers, dragged the huge woofer out of the corner, carried the 50-pound (or so it seemed) receiver, the VCR, the DVD player, the Wii, the infrared sensors, the A/B/C HDMI switch, and all of the wires and cables appertaining thereto out of the house. I dusted. I did my best to assuage my husband’s shock and dismay. And I then bought the Chromecast, plugged it in, and set the TV’s audio system to “surround sound.” I installed the Chromecast app on my Android. I tapped the little screen in my hand. And voila – Pandora was streaming data wirelessly to the pretty darn good speakers and filling the room with music. I tapped again and voila deux – Netflix offered me my choice of movies and television shows. Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, my email – whatever I wanted I could “cast” to the TV.

So my old fogey entertainment center was wiped away and replaced by one sleek and powerful – and cheap – little piece of equipment.  I felt like I’d let myself out of the 90’s and into today, in sync with the world again.

Then I had an epiphany about a certain type of boomer businesswoman – that trailblazer and modern thinker who was among the first to set up a website, thereby proving herself as a forward-thinker among entrepreneurs, but whose website today, ironically, draws little to no web traffic and portrays her as out of date and behind the times. This over-50 businesswoman, I suddenly realized, holds onto her original site because her early experience, back when websites were expensive to build and impossible to self-manage, had given her Post Traumatic Web Disorder.  Of course she naturally assumed that if she tackled her website today, she’d be traumatized again and drained of many thousands of dollars. The prospect gave her nightmares. That’s why her early adoption of the web, ironically, was now coming around and biting her in the ass.

This is thinking just like mine – thinking about options as they were back then, not as they are now – thinking that a website makeover will be time-consuming, stress-inducing, and money-sucking rather than simplifying, better working, and ease-inducing.

I was inspired to put my revelation into action so I built a new website for Women At Woodstock 2015 – did you notice the new design? I didn’t hate my website before, but this new one is updated, more “in style,” and cleaner. Since web design is what I do for a living (in addition to social media marketing, writing, and producing our Women At Woodstock event every year), the project took only a couple of days to finish, stretching the hours over a few weeks as they were available to me outside of my “day job.”  My favorite client projects always have been website makeovers for businesswomen over 50 – sites into which I can build not only a new design but search engine optimization features and powerful integrations with social media. I like showing these fellow entrepreneurs how to post to their blogs and their social media sites to get the most bang for their buck and also pare down the hours they’ve been spending on social media.  When I work on a website makeover for a businesswoman over 50, I always feel like I’m joining forces with her to pull those wires, throw that equipment away, dust off that new open space, and then step into the force field of today’s technology. What a great reinvention!

Here are a couple of before-and-after websites I’ve done that I thought I’d share, just for fun. It’s always good to move from old to now, don’t you think?

Women At Woodstock Before

Women At Woodstock Now

Women At Woodstock before

Women At Woodstock Feb 2015 cropped

Clarity Learning Before

Clarity Learning Now

Clarity Learning Site Before

Clarity Learning Website 306x396

Athenian Skin Care Before

Athenian Skin Care Now

Athenian Skin Care BEFORE cropped

Athenian Skin Care Feb 2015

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