– Over two decades we’ve studied
the usability of hundreds of websites and apps and
we’ve seen some similarities and differences between all
these different age groups. I recently studied how
teenagers use technology and compared those behaviors against those of children and adults. Let’s start off with trust and determining
credibility of information. For children, this isn’t
really much of an issue since they mainly use the web
for entertainment purposes and when they’re searching for
information for school work, teachers usually provide links. Teenagers who receive more
assignments requiring research have difficulty judging
credibility of websites. They mainly look to the
website’s aesthetic and how easy it is to skim and find
the content they need. Adults are quick to judge websites, though they tend to be
less critical of websites than young adults. And in terms of search
and information finding, teenagers relied heavily on search engines and site searches. But they often experience
some trouble when it came to formulating a search query. This behavior aligns
closely with adult users, though in contrast, children
have a bigger reliance on bookmarks than search engines. Though you do see some older children around ages nine to 12
years of age using search. When children and teens are asked to disclose personal
information like their full name or a phone number, they’re pretty hesitant because
that’s what their teachers have taught them. In contrast, young adults tend
to be more willing to provide a personal email or a phone number for say a rewards program. Whereas adults are often very willing to create accounts on sites they trust. In my research with teenagers, the most usable websites
and apps were those designs that were targeted specifically for teens’ needs and behaviors. Even if teens aren’t the largest age group in your target audience, it’s important to acknowledge
some of these differences and determine how your design
can support those behaviors.

Teenage Users Compared to Other Age Groups
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