Not all teens are techno-geniuses, according to the latest study from usability guru Jakob Nielsen. Youth workers designing sites for teens should pay attention to the results:
Design – While teens do pay more attention to a site’s design than adults do, they tend to like clean designs. Glitzy sites were often hard to use, and thus not used.
Tech Savvy – Contrary to popular opinion, teens are not savvier than adults when it comes to technology. When asked to complete a perfectly feasible task, only 55% of teens could do it, compared to 66% of adults. Nielsen blamed poor reading skills, less sophisticated research strategies and a bigtime lack of patience.
Boredom – It’s the kiss of death for teens. They have a short attention span and want to be entertained.
Reading – Teens aren’t big on reading. Text that’s easy to scan and using graphics to illustrate concepts are good ways to deal with their dislike for reading. Teens also don’t like small font sizes, not because of poor eyesight, but because they often sit back from the computer.
So what works? Nielsen recommended the following features that give teens a chance to interact with a site:
- Online quizzes
- Forms for providing feedback or asking questions
- Online voting
- Features for sharing pictures or stories
- Message boards
- Forums for offering and receiving advice
- Features for creating a website or otherwise adding content