A User Friendly Search Engine for Baby Boomers

Eons, a 50-plus media company for boomers and seniors, announced the launch of Cranky.com today, the first age-relevant search engine.

Eons teamed up with Compete – an online consumer market research leader- to analyze the most popular Web sites among an estimated 500,000 Web users over the age of 45. Based on this research, the first of its kind, the Cranky team reviewed the top 5,000 Web sites for this age group, featuring highlights, deep links and a rating for each site.

Some Key Features:

Member Social Search: Eons members rate and review sites. These member ratings influence the top sites that are delivered as results in future Cranky searches, thus the more users engage with rankings over time, the better the search engine will become.

Expert Editorial Review: The Cranky age-relevant editorial team has
reviewed the top 5,000 sites with a standardized editorial template
that includes a simple description of the site, plus Cranky Tips: deep links and insider secrets on how to get the most out of these sites.

I took a look at Cranky and compared its results to the search “blog” with Google:

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Interesting…three out of the top four results are Google products. The type face is small, and the entire right column is devoted to ads that look the same as the search results…where should I click? How do I narrow my search? What is all this junk?

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Cranky has large type and a clean page. Stars next to the results and a clear summary of what the link is about make it easy to decide what to click on.

The search results on Cranky produced different results than Google. Whether they are more useful or not, depends on what exactly I wanted to know. That’s where the “expand” or “narrow” the search comes in. I can just click on one of the suggested phrases like “blog definition” or “blog philosophy” to get more specific results.

What Eons has really done is made a search engine with usability in mind, while at the same time incorporating some of the latest trends in social search. Although Cranky targets older web users, its usability principles could really be applied to any search engine or website. Who wouldn’t want to use a search engine like this:

  • Large, easy-to-read type
  • A clean, uncluttered interface
  • Relevant, non-junky search results
  • Clear summaries of what the site links are actually about
  • Suggestions of how to narrow or expand the search
  • A way to easily interact with the search engine to make the results more relevant in the future

Since older web users tend to have less experience with the Internet and technology, they probably have a lower tolerance for websites being difficult to use and navigate. That doesn’t mean that the younger, more tech savvy crowd wouldn’t appreciate more user-friendly web interfaces as well.