Perth fintech Smooth Retirement has teamed up with Curtin University and Subiaco-based web developer Alyka to find out exactly how older web-users like to engage online.
A select group of retiree-aged volunteers have agreed to undergo high tech biometric testing as they navigate their way through a series of online tasks and sample websites, to be conducted by experts from Curtin’s Consumer Research Lab in Bentley.
The testing uses sophisticated infra-red technology to track the eye movements and visual processing technology to monitor facial expressions of the volunteers to determine what they are really thinking and feeling.
The research is being conducted as part of Smooth Retirement’s website development and aims to provide accurate user experience (UX) data which will assist the company to create the optimum user-friendly and effective online experience for its target users, Australian retirees.
Dr Billy Sung, research lead of the Consumer Research Lab at Curtin University, said biometric testing can be more reliable than traditional market research methods which often elicit exaggerated or embellished responses.
“The testing methods will vary from project to project but can include eye tracking and the monitoring of sweat levels, heart rates, facial expressions and even brainwave activity,” Dr Sung said.
“Unlike traditional market research, data is collected in natural situations and in real time, providing reliable and objective information about what consumers think and feel when they interact with marketing materials including websites.”
Billy Sung – Smooth RetirementDr Billy Sung takes a biometric testing volunteer through their paces at Curtin University.
The biometric testing lab, which has been up and running as part of the Curtin Business School for 18 months, is being used extensively by other WA companies to test advertising concepts with consumers before they are launched, develop better product concept and packaging, and identify and understand consumers shopping preferences and consumer habits.
The research to be conducted with Smooth Retirement will involve the intense testing of six volunteers, aged late 50s to mid-70s who will be monitored for eye movement, pupil activity, emotional states, levels of understanding and confusion as well as the time it takes them to navigate their way through and complete a series of tasks over an hour-long period.
The facial expression technology individually reads 48 muscles on the face to measure the tester’s emotional response in six individual categories: happy; sad; surprised; anger; scared; and disgust.
The lab uses these outputs, combined with the eye tracking and pupillometry, to identify points of frustration, confusion and friction, as well as gauge how well the tester was able to use the functions on a web page, and any other potential features of the website that might need improving.
Alyka Managing Director Bernard Chia said the biometric testing was the final stage of the extensive UX research conducted for Smooth Retirement which had revealed that while older consumers were happy to go online, they liked to use websites very differently from younger users.
“Our UX research has found that older users are happy to read quite complex forms such as Terms & Conditions but don’t like common website features such as ‘sliders’, conversational style forms for inputting, chat bots and marketing content such as user testimonials,” Mr Chia said.
“They also struggle with tabs, don’t necessarily always understand graphs, don’t always use the mouse, don’t recognise chat icons, understandably can find smaller text hard to read but are more than happy to deal with long forms and love video explainers.”
Smooth Retirement CEO and Managing Director Scott Phillips said too often the latest in web development and innovation was focused on younger consumers and early tech adopters.
“With more than 250,000 Australians turning 65 each year, there is a growing target market for retirement-focused online goods and services and it’s an audience that should not be ignored,” Mr Phillips said.
“We already know that an increasing number of older Australians are connected and online with research showing that 70 per cent of the 5.5 million Aussies aged 55 to 75 own a smart phone, and over-55 are now the second biggest users of Facebook.
“We are delighted to be working with Curtin and Alyka on this exciting project which will assist us to create the most accessible, positive, informative and easy to use online experience we can for Australian retirees.”