• Digital

Web design for all: Why brands shouldn’t overlook older demographics


  • Digital

What a difference a year makes. Regardless of age and gender, we all lived at a distance – relying on technology for socialisation, working, shopping and pretty much everything else. In fact, 80% of people agree that using technology has been a vital support to them during lockdowns (UK Consumer Digital Index 2021 ). But, the requirement to use technology for basic tasks was a daunting prospect for anyone not confident in their digital skills.

78% of people agree that the Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the need for digital skills (UK Consumer Digital Index 2021). However, it’s not just on consumers to up their skills: brands need to ensure their websites are consumer-friendly – for anyone who wants, or needs, to use them.

Introducing hybrid living

Recently, Curious partnered with YouGov to explore how people’s relationships with technology are changing and what this might mean for brands. We discovered that a large proportion of consumers plan to continue life, at least partly, remotely, even when all restrictions have been lifted.

This was roughly the figure we suspected: we’ve had almost a year and a half for new technology to work its way into our routines, and it’s done so with remarkable ease. So, it’s not unexpected that many people will continue to integrate it into their lives. Something that did surprise us, however, was how even intention to continue parts of life remotely was split between different age groups.

All the signs were there

In retrospect, perhaps this shouldn’t have come as such a shock. There were indications that internet usage is increasing amongst all age groups – but particularly the over 55s.

The proof:

  • Internet connection in households with one adult aged 65 or over increased to 80% in 2020 (ONS)
  • More than 3/4 of over 65s use the internet at least once a week (ONS)
  • Three times more 70-year-olds registered for online banking in 2020 than the same time the year before (UK Consumer Digital Index 2020)
  • 55% of over 65s use a smartphone, and 59% have a social media profile (Adults Media Use and Attitudes Report OFCOM)

The opportunity is there

There’s a stereotype that older people struggle with technology and while there is some truth in this, these figures suggest we should be giving them more credit – and brands should be paying them more attention.

Take shopping, for example

It seems like online shopping addictions aren’t the preserve of young people after all. We found that a larger proportion of over 55s plan to shop online than 18-24-year-olds (30% vs 38%). And figures from the ONS show that in August 2020 65% of over 65s had shopped online in the preceding 12 months.

And, if that wasn’t enough to convince you:

  • Last year over 65s made up 30% of consumer goods purchased online, up from 20% in 2019 (The Economist)
  • They are also the group that is showing the largest increase in online shopping (ONS)
  • Between 2010 to 2020, the percentage of 55-64 who had shopped online in the last year grew from 58% to 79% (ONS)

What’s more, over 65s are a valuable market to capture. An ONS study found that 6% of them had spent over £1000 online shopping in the previous three months – the same as 16-24-year-olds.

How can brands attract older audiences?

‘Be yourself’ is a rule that people and brands should both live by. You shouldn’t change fundamental things about your brand, or its personality, to attract new customers – not if the changes you make aren’t true to your core brand idea (find yours here).

That said, there are practical things you can do to make it more likely that new customers will become loyal advocates. And, an excellent place to start is with your website.

Our research found that in the last year, a whopping ⅓ of consumers abandoned a purchase journey due to a bad website or app. That’s a lot of business that brands are losing over something that’s easily corrected.

For the over 55 group, having a good website is vital. 95% of those asked believe that it’s important for a company to have a website that’s easy to navigate – more than any other age group.

And, there’s evidence that more older people would shop online if websites were more accessible. One in five older people would be more likely to get online if websites and apps were easier to understand (UK Consumer Digital Index) So, there’s potential for this customer group to expand in the future.

It all comes back to users

Before you can have a website that’s easy to use, you have to understand both who your customers are and how they are going to use it. Consider where they will land, how they’ll move through the website, their needs, goals and frustrations.

However, while digital touchpoints need to be functional and facilitate the audience’s needs, they also need to have a personality. Brand and design must be integrated to create platforms that are tailored to their audience, whilst also providing an authentic brand experience.

When designing for older audiences, you might want to consider:

Fewer steps: This could mean fewer forms or fields to complete, or shortening the journey between your basket and completing a transaction.
More visibility: Transparency around delivery dates and payments will reassure anyone unsure of shopping online.
Aesthetic Choices: Using legible colour palettes and larger typefaces will increase usability

At Curious, we believe great digital design starts with zero assumptions of how a website or app should look for its users. Designing from scratch and embracing the influence of users and brand is crucial and doing so will mean your platform will feel tailored to your users and distinct to your brand.

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    • Digital

    Brands must fix their digital UX if they are to unlock the power of online


    • Digital

    The marketing funnel: a much pored over concept that dominates most strategic conversations that take place within any brand’s marketing department.

    At what stage is the consumer in the awareness phase? The consideration period? When does the intent to purchase kick in?

    Marketers quite rightly obsess about this process, so if new research is to be believed it is incredible to think that they are unwittingly falling at the final hurdle.

    According to a consumer study recently undertaken by us here at Curious, in partnership with YouGov, nearly half of all consumers have abandoned an online shopping basket because of a poor online experience.

    Whether shopping on a company’s website or via their app, 46% of people report having had such a bad experience that they have given up – a third of people reporting such an instance in the past year alone. Just think about that for a second: they had products in their basket that they had already decided to buy and even at that late stage in the funnel, they called it a day. They would rather start the whole process again elsewhere than spend another minute on that particular platform.

    The message is clear: brands need to prioritise their digital platforms with as much fervour as their advertising, branding and all other elements of their communications mix.

    Respondents to our survey, entitled ‘The Hybrid Consumer’ cited functionality and visual distinction as key drivers for a positive online experience, with as many as 93% agreeing that functionality is important when using a brand’s digital platform, with visual distinction next on the list of priorities, at 73% and just over one in four of those polled (26%) saying a unique experience is also important.

    While marketers are on a permanent quest to seek visual distinction for their brand to ensure it stands out on the physical or digital shelf, this should not be confused with the appetite for an original online look.

    Consumers do not want to be bamboozled by a complex or unusual digital experience. Take Amazon as an example: the king of simplicity and functionality, with a site that has barely changed in years, yet it has certainly not suffered from a lack of visitors. Likewise, TikTok – which has a fantastic design and UX – had seen a billion downloads by April 2020. In this instance they operate a powerful AI which quickly learns what users like and recommends more content, keeping people engaged for longer.

    It is this balance between UI and UX that brands should have front of mind when designing their digital platforms. The two work together to create an overall experience, and good web design will take this into account; something perfect for a brand’s audience on paper can be hard to use if the UI is bad, while a good UI is something that looks great, aligns perfectly with the brand and is tailored to what the user needs.

    For brands to succeed in this space it’s integral that they understand their audiences wants and needs when it comes to a website. User testing is a great approach to gaining this insight and will enable a brand to learn about how their site is navigated under realistic conditions. The process will throw up any areas which could cause a user to drop off, allowing the brand to improve their online platform, by smoothing out the consumers’ journey.

    This all comes at a time when consumers’ have spent more than a year living largely online – shopping, socialising and working – and their reliance on technology is greater than ever before. More than a third of people will continue to bank (35%) and shop (36%) online (either partly or fully) with 65% of online consumers wanting to live a hybrid lifestyle in some way or other after restrictions are lifted.

    And this is not just something that concerns Gen X; indeed only 3% fewer people aged 55 and over will continue to shop online post-pandemic than those aged 25-34, proving that brands do not need to attract older online shoppers but must understand what they want from their digital experience.

    To think that brands are failing to convert customers who are already on their website is not only astonishing but is something that’s both unnecessary and completely avoidable. With careful consideration of the online expectations of consumers across every age bracket, many brands will see a notable fall in abandoned baskets and the satisfying completion of that all important marketing funnel.

    As featured in the New Digital Age.

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      • Digital

      A Curious report: The Hybrid Consumer


      • Digital

      In partnership with YouGov

      We’ve been curious about how our relationship with technology has changed in the last year. Living from a distance and relying on digital platforms for all elements of our lives has shown us just how easy it is to utilise websites and apps to make our lives easier.

      But as we spend more time online, there is nowhere for brands to hide when it comes to consumers’ digital experience. With 65% of UK consumers planning to continue living at least part of their life remotely once restrictions are lifted and a whopping 1/3 claiming to have abandoned their baskets out of blind website frustration, it’s clear there is a challenge that must be addressed.

      Explore our full research report, conducted in partnership with YouGov, to find out how the new hybrid lifestyle has affected consumer expectations and to discover where brands are falling short with their digital offerings.


      Download the report here

      Just fill out the form below to get your copy of this consumer report.

        Our small print: It’s free. It’s for a limited time only, for a limited number of brands.

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          • Digital
          • Branding
          • Naming

          Client Spotlight: Zyte


          • Digital
          • Branding
          • Naming

          For this month’s client spotlight, we caught up with Zyte’s Head of Marketing, Marie Moynihan to reflect on her experience of their recent rebrand from Scraping Hub, and what she enjoyed about the process.

          What prompted your decision to rebrand?

          We started to create our three-year strategic plan for the business and once that was complete, I started to ask whether the brand was strong enough to deliver on our vision. We went out to the market to find the right partner that could help us answer that question, rather than starting with “we want to rebrand”.

          What drove the desire to change your name as well as your identity?

          We were bringing a new product to market that would change how our customers would access data. The old name was very tied to the old solutions, so we wanted a new name that would support this new product and direction.

          What was the most challenging aspect of managing a rebrand for you?

          Probably bringing the whole organisation on the journey with us. It was clear to me why we needed to change the name but managing that change internally was challenging.

          What did you find most enjoyable/surprising?

          Once we had decided on the name, the most enjoyable part was seeing the brand come to life. The name is nothing without the brand. This was really fun as we got to build out the personality and look and feel of our new brand.

          How did you communicate the changes to your employees and customers?

          We did this with continuous updates along the journey. The rebrand had a regular slot in all of our town hall meetings, and we got Curious to hold a couple of sessions for staff, educating them on the process we were taking, findings etc. We also had a slack channel for any questions or comments anybody had.

          How do you think your new brand has impacted your business?

          It has really consolidated how we talk about ourself. One of our customers explaining extracting data from the web as ‘Zyting’ was really exciting for us. We also have solid brand guidelines that have helped give us one voice in the market. The rebrand was really well received internally as well which was super important for us.

          Read the full case study here.

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            • Digital
            • Branding
            • Naming

            Client Spotlight: The Kite Factory


            • Digital
            • Branding
            • Naming

            In the first of our monthly client spotlight series, we caught up with Emily Underhill, Marketing Director at The Kite Factory on her experience of the media agency’s rebrand from MC&C, what she found challenging and what she enjoyed most throughout the Curious process.

            What prompted your decision to rebrand?

            There were multiple factors that led to our decision to rebrand but ultimately, we wanted to create a clean slate for the next leg of our growth journey. We’d spent a lot of time developing our offering and building a new senior leadership team to drive the business forward, but were struggling to agree and communicate what made us different.

            We also received VC investment for the first time, which allowed us to invest in creating a modern brand that captured the agency’s vision, personality & passion that could confidently go up against our competitors.

            What drove the desire to change your name as well as your identity?

            Our old name (MC&C) stood for Mike Colling & Company, after our Founder. The agency was founded in 2001 and given its evolution, we felt that the name no longer represented or championed our people and the collaborative nature of our business.

            MC&C also had a heritage in charity advertising – a specialism we are still proud to hold today – but we wanted to diversify our client base and knew a new name would give us the springboard to break out of that pigeonhole and have new conversations with different kinds of clients.

            TKF, Naming, design

            What was the most challenging aspect of managing a rebrand for you?

            Managing multiple stakeholders and their opinions is always challenging. Curious did some brilliant investigative work to combat this by getting under the skin of the business and understanding what our agency stood for from those that know it best (staff, clients, partners etc), which left little room for debate and gave us a clear direction.

            What did you find most enjoyable/surprising?

            I really enjoyed the naming process as it really felt like our brand was coming to life. Curious came up with some really clever options that all struck a chord, and we were pleasantly surprised at how aligned we were as a team – the ultimate decision was unanimous!

            I personally love the psychology behind branding so really enjoyed watching the process play out and learning the different considerations and how they all link together. On the surface, The Kite Factory seems a bit of a random name (which does a job in creating intrigue), but I love that it feels considered and links back to our story in a really smart way.

            How did you communicate the changes to your employees and customers?

            We knew how important it was to bring our staff on this journey with us and celebrate this new chapter with them and our existing clients. We timed the relaunch to coincide with our move to our beautiful new office which gave us a brilliant opportunity to bring the brand to life from day one.

            A personal note from our CEO explaining the changes went to our clients and partners, and we sent a branded box of goodies to industry friends and journalists to spread the word. Staff received a welcome box on their new desk with more information on the new ‘us’ and our new surroundings, and we did a big reveal around our gorgeous neon TKF sign in our reception. Launch week culminated with a very boozy party at the office to celebrate with industry friends.

            How do you think your new brand has impacted your business?

            The rebrand has been absolutely fundamental in our growth. Curious helped us to discover and develop an authentic proposition that truly represented our agency, along with a stunning new name and visual identity that has created huge interest with new clients, recruits and industry peers. This gave us the fresh start we needed and it’s gone from strength to strength ever since.

            You can find a case study of our work here.

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              • Brand Strategy
              • Digital
              • Branding

              How can charities rise from the ashes of Coronavirus?


              • Brand Strategy
              • Digital
              • Branding

              From the ashes, a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring’ –  J.R.R. Tolkien

              The pandemic has changed the world as we know it. Industries, from travel all the way through to entertainment, have been severely affected by Coronavirus. But none of these have been tougher to witness than the impact on the charity sector.

              What has been so concerning is that as the pandemic has worsened, demand for charity services has increased but overall income has fallen. A vicious loop which has led to charities in the UK losing an estimated £4.3 billion (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) already, whilst 60% more people are now dependent on essential charity donations (Charity Today). In short, charities have never been so needed and yet they have never been so vulnerable themselves.

              However, sometimes out of the darkest moments comes the brightest of lights. The British public never fails to support a good cause and donated a staggering total of £5.4 billion to charity between January and June 2020 – an increase of £800 million compared to the same period in 2019 (CAF). There was a surge in volunteering and inspirational figures such as Captain Sir Tom Moore stepped up to raise money for NHS charities.

              In spite of these heroics and the kindness of the nation, the situation has unfortunately remained bleak with analysis by independent charity Pro Bono Economics predicting that out of the UK’s 170,000 charities, one in 10 could face bankruptcy, with smaller charities being most at risk. Even high-profile names such as Children In Need and Royal British Legion’s annual poppy appeal have been hit, with both experiencing declines in overall donations.

              In uncertain times like these, dramatic action is needed. Charities must be hard on themselves and identify even the smallest of weaknesses that could be holding them back. Weaknesses must be turned into strengths and used to help them grow. If a charity can rise out of the pandemic, it will never stop.

              Rising from the ashes: 4 focus areas

              Strengthen the brand

              The way a charity represents itself to the public is crucial. A strong brand positioning creates differentiation in the market, enables a connection with consumers and ultimately helps build trust. It also helps increase income as consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23% (Forbes). A brand DNA consists of everything, from the personality and tone of voice, through to distinctive assets such as a logo, typeface and sound design that will build mental recall with consumers. By re-evaluating their brand make up and ensuring consistency across communication platforms, charities will have a strong foundation to build upon moving forward.

              Utilise the power of data

              According to a recent survey carried out by Loqate and Acevo, a shocking 66% of charities aren’t confident in their own data. Areas such as analytics, consumer experience, campaign management and reporting all risk being damaged, which can directly impact an organisation’s efficiency and reputation. With data decaying by 20% year on year, it is integral that charities implement a data driven culture to ensure they don’t damage their brand, infringe on GDPR regulations and lose out on revenue. The key is to identify what data you need, then establish how to collect it and ultimately how to use it effectively.

              Engage new audiences

              For brands, targeting the correct consumers is fundamental to success both in terms of engagement, but also profit. One tactic to increase profits is to diversify when it comes to audience and look outside the box for future donators. Charity target audiences have traditionally been made up of older demographics. However, a report published by Blackbaud revealed UK Generation Zers and Millennials are in fact the most generous givers. Charities would be wise to open their arms to younger potential donators and explore how to appeal to them moving forwards.

              Harness digital channels

              The world is digital, and for that reason, it is crucial that charities utilise key touchpoints to engage with their audiences. The website is an important place to start as it’s seen as the hub. Simplicity wins in this domain particularly when it comes to the donation page, with over a quarter of web users (26%) dropping out if there are too many fields to complete (Loqate). Email is also a key channel and still ranks best for ROI. Emphasis should be put on email engagement journeys, using compelling imagery and the power of personalisation. Social media, on the other hand, offers charities the chance to experiment with content such as Instagram stories to communicate a narrative and drive donations.

              Embracing these areas will allow charities the chance to strengthen their brand for the future and rise once and for all.

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                • Brand Strategy
                • Digital

                The kids are online: The importance of brand in the digital space


                • Brand Strategy
                • Digital

                Through the lens of retail, we take a look at how advancements in technology have shifted business online and what this means for brands going forward.

                What’s been going on with retail?

                We’ve been hearing about the declining footfall for years. It’s on the news, and it’s in the boarded-up shops of our local high street. Improvements in technology have meant it’s now so much easier to buy something online than to go to a shop to find it. Even before Coronavirus forced us all indoors, many of us were choosing online shopping over popping to the shops.

                Will Covid be the nail in the high street’s coffin?

                Non-essential shops have been closed for much of the last year. Any items that can’t be found in supermarkets, garden centres or hardware stores had to be bought online. This has forced people who wouldn’t normally consider online shopping to rely on it. And, now that they’ve tried it, many people will continue to shop online. According to BrandWatch, 73% of people who bought clothes online during lockdown will continue to do so in the future.

                But before we condemn in-person shopping to the past, we should consider why it has survived up to now. There are two main reasons people still visit stores.

                The first reason people might prefer shopping in person is if they don’t feel comfortable shopping online. Those of us who didn’t grow up with the technology for online shopping might not feel confident using it.

                The second reason is simply that people enjoy going shopping. It’s fun. And sometimes we want to see the items we’re considering in real life before we buy them. Even though Gen-Zers are twice as likely as millennials to shop on their phones, two-thirds of them still prefer to shop in person (BelVG).

                What will shopping look like in the post-pandemic world?

                We predict that, when they can, most people will go back to physical shopping (always or occasionally). After all, we saw how busy the shops were before Christmas.

                But, online shopping will have won new converts as more people than ever have tried it. After the initial wave of excitement of the relaxation of Covid restrictions dies down, highstreets will once again see a decline in footfall as the convenience of online shopping wins beats the excitement of shopping in person.

                In the medium to long term, we predict more closures. The casualties will be shops that can’t turn shopping into the experience that consumers crave. Retail parks and shopping centres that offer other activities alongside shopping are better placed to do this. Even pre-pandemic, they had a higher footfall than high street shops (British Retail Consortium).

                What’s it to us?

                So, the internet is going nowhere – that shouldn’t be news to anyone. The increasing reliance on the digital sphere in business will affect all industries, not just retail. To be competitive, companies are going to have to grow their digital offering. But it’s important to remember that technology won’t be what sets them apart. Everyone will be able to offer similar things. What will make companies stand out is how well their online experience encapsulates their brand. This is where we come in.

                What do you need to consider when looking at your digital presence?

                On top of a seamless UX/UI experience, companies need to make sure their brand is consistent and optimised to every platform the consumer interacts with. There should be no disconnect between how a brand feels and presents itself online and in person. A bad experience with either could mean a consumer completes their purchase journey elsewhere.

                Interested in finding out more about what makes a great digital experience? Read our interview with Curious’ Digital Creative Director.

                To deliver a consistent experience, businesses will need to know themselves and their customers. Understanding their purpose and personality will influence how they use technology and present themselves in the digital space. Doing this well will set them apart from the competition. Learn how to uncover your brand purpose here.

                The receipts

                Tech is already changing retail. If the trends we’re seeing continue, retailers will rely more on online sales and have fewer physical stores. There will be less opportunity for in-person interaction which means digital touchpoints will need to work harder and embody the brand in a more meaningful way.

                As companies continue to explore what technology can do for them, they must not lose sight of who they are. Not all companies will use tech in the same way – and that’s a good thing – differences create interest. The companies who understand their purpose and harness technology in a way that amplifies their brand will be those who benefit most from the opportunities technological advancements provide.

                With this in mind, now is the perfect time for companies to reflect. Ask fundamental questions about their business and consumers. Go back to basics and consider why they do what they do. With a strong sense of identity and purpose to guide them, businesses can harness technology in a way that is authentic to their brand and feels natural to their customers.

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