What’s going to happen when we get old?
Blair Roblin, PhD
Dr. Blair Roblin got his PhD in health services research and gerontology just one year before his retirement. Inspired by the way society deals with aging, Roblin wanted to study and research a problem he thought was very real in our lives; what’s going to happen to us when we get old, and how can we support ourselves?
Roblin obviously didn’t start his career in the gerontology field. He spent most of his life working in finance. With his imminent retirement fast approaching, he plans on focusing solely on his research and keynote speaking in the future.
Roblin studies many social challenges faced by the elderly, including economics, health care, employment, legal rights, and technological trends.
We started working with Roblin after a friend of his referred us to him. He was looking for someone who could help him create a site that served as a portfolio of his work and a point of contact for his keynote speaking services.
Roblin is also an advocate. He talks to his audience about challenges he knows they will someday face, if they aren’t already facing them, and informs them of ways they can help themselves that they might not have otherwise been aware of. He talks about the aging population we face today, with more elderly people than there are young, and the realities of people working well past retirement age to support themselves.
Roblin dedicates a lot of his time towards comforting people. He conducts his research with the intent of sharing it and bettering society. We knew right away we wanted to infuse that guiding principle within the fundamental design of his website. We crafted his site, Our Aging World, to be approachable, simple, and friendly.
It perfectly embodies who Roblin is as a person and how he conducts his work.
Beauty in simplicity
Making a website that works for its users
Our Aging World was always going to be a more basic site. Roblin wanted it to serve as a portfolio for his work, so there was never any intention to make it overly complicated.
The fundamental purpose was to show the viewer what Roblin does and offer people a place to solicit his service as a keynote speaker.
We gave Roblin all the tools he would need to have a site that suited him. We designed Our Aging World in WordPress for it’s easy to use interface, meaning Roblin can edit and update it without any trouble. We also provided him web hosting through our preferred web hosting service, Siteground.com, and email hosting through Google.
To illustrate just how simple we made Our Aging World, we didn’t even charge for the logo design. All we did was give the domain name a nice font and it was already the perfect fit for the site, no graphic design required.
The highlight of this project is not necessarily the tools or technical skill that went into making the site. The fact is, it was simple. The focus was on how we evaluated our clients needs and designed his product to best suit him and his audience, which was a challenge in and of itself.
The key to designing any site is to cater to your audience
Designing a site that suits the end user’s needs
The first step we take when planning any website is we try to predict what our client will need most. In this case, we knew Roblin’s core audience were older, typically born before the 1980’s. This was the core problem we wanted to tackle; how do you design a site for people who don’t really use the internet?
Of course, the key to designing any site is to cater to your audience, and we know that older demographics often lack the fluent understanding of technology we would normally expect from our users. We did our best to keep the layout of the site as simple as possible for them, otherwise we risked alienating our main users. Our mindset going into the designing phase was we were targeting people who were only slightly familiar with computers.
We designed the site with navigability in mind. For example, a user with less online experience might not know that most sites use the businesses logo to direct you back to the home page, so we went ahead and included a home button in the header.
We also included tools on the backend that were simpler and more approachable so that Roblin could edit and maintain his site as he pleased without any help from us if he wanted to.
We used images of older people throughout the site to reflect our audience, and we went with a light colour scheme that was easy on the eyes in the hopes that it would reduce eye strain.
We challenged ourselves to create a user experience that only took five clicks. We made sure every important page was accessible from every other one in order to minimize navigation, meaning the end user is expected to only spend a few minutes looking around before they have everything they need.
We wanted it to be easy to see what Roblin is all about. We included an FAQ, easily located contact info, and, above all, we made the online world more accessible to elderly people after visiting, which was one of Roblin’s goals from the start.
For a web design company that usually works with bloggers and young startup businesses, our experience designing for the elderly was completely unique.
Unexplored territory for Awesome Web Designs
Looking to the future with new projects for Dr. Roblin
Our Aging World is just the first step for Roblin. Now that he has his portfolio site set up to his liking, we’re going to start working on new projects for him.
Roblin is putting together a book featuring his very own Limriddles. Limriddles are riddles presented in the form of a limerick. They each contain three different clues that lead to the same word, but the meaning of the word is different within each clue.
The book will be designed by Awesome Web Designs, marking the first time we’ll ever be working in print media. We’ll be working on graphic design, fonts, cover design, illustrations, and various other visual elements that will contribute to the completion of the book.
While the purpose of the riddles is to serve the elderly, the mental stimulation the Limriddles provide can ultimately benefit anyone. As such, the book will target a wider audience than the initial Our Aging World site.
We’re also designing another site solely dedicated to the Limriddle book. This site will be an e-commerce and we’re going to do a full marketing campaign for the book. It will also feature Limriddle samples, that way people who discover the site are more likely to become interested in the book.
The challenge we’re expecting to face with this next project is marketing to an older demographic. While our goal is to reach an audience beyond Roblin’s current one, it’s easy to get advertising in front of young people’s eyes. To reach an older, less tech-savvy generation, you have to rely on putting your message on media they’re more likely to consume.
Fortunately, we’re up for the task. Of the many skills, we bring to the table, we’re designers first, regardless of the medium. We have no doubt the book will succeed.
At Awesome Web Designs, we strive to provide the kind of service that leads to opportunities such as the one we’ve found in Our Aging World. We always go the extra mile in our service because we know it always leads to greater things.
We look forward to working with Dr. Roblin in all his future endeavours.