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TAPPING THE "FREEAGER" INTERNET MARKET.

Local community content, colorful, non-jarring graphics, and intelligent conversation are but a few of the requirements "FreeAgers" are seeking on the Internet, according to a survey by wisecity.com and zoomerang.com that questioned more than 600 Web users over the age of 50 on what they like and dislike on the Web. "FreeAgers are people who are usually 50 or better and are experiencing new freedoms in their lives because their children are grown up and their job responsibilities are lessening," notes John Ryan, CEO of wisecity.com, an Internet site specifically designed for that audience. "They represent the fastest growing segment of Internet users, and it only makes good business sense to give them what they want."

Ryan indicates that FreeAgers see the Internet as a tool that helps them pursue their lifestyle. They don't see it as their life, the way many younger individuals do. They want to use the Web to keep in touch with their friends, family, and community, but they don't want to spend all day surfing. They want to get on the Web, get the information, and log out.

FreeAgers don't like cluttered websites. "Overwhelmingly, the survey respondents said they enjoy colorful sites and love photos and graphics, but they don't want to be working on a site that has a fluorescent orange background and blinking banner ads. Most of the websites out there have been designed by those under 35 and, as you might expect, meet that group's needs. But FreeAgers want websites that are designed specifically for them.

"One of the most common responses to the survey was that FreeAgers are sick of the websites that cater to Generation Xers. So much of the Web is tailored to meet the needs of people 35 or younger. Our survey found FreeAgers are tired of sites that miss the mark and want better options. FreeAgers are getting the impression that they are an afterthought when it comes to the Web and they are looking for places that make them the main focus. They want intelligent information geared specifically for them."

They also feel that most websites are written in language that talks down to them. This is because most web designers view FreeAgers as "old people" who didn't grow up using computers and therefore are not intelligent. "On the contrary, FreeAgers are very wise people who want sites to treat them that way," Ryan says. "They are starving for sites that recognize their intelligence."
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2000
Words:411
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