Designing A Website For Different Age Groups

Designing A Website For Different Age Groups

Age of the target user group is a crucial factor that is considered while designing a website. It influences interface design, usability and accessibility of a site. Various age groups are using web for different purposes.

Most web designers have a generalized approach while designing a site. This approach is largely based on logical and sensible guesswork. Identifying the target age group helps in concentrating on a definite style or pattern.

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Many users coming from senior generation may be logging for the first time or just getting accustomed with computers. On the other end of spectrum there are young ones who learn fast and demand more. Designing sites for specific age groups has gained importance from these perspectives.

Designing for the little ones

Web designing for little ones is challenging and interesting. With growing popularity and spread of web, a large number of children are being exposed to internet usage at an early age. Children in the age group of 5-8 or younger are acquiring skills and experience with advanced devices and websites.

Though children are fast learners, their motor skills and perception are not same as adults. They may have some difficulties in using mice or keyboard. Children tend to be more impatient than adults while surfing or dealing with errors. Sites targeting little ones need to keep these things in mind while designing layouts and planning site navigation.

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Children usually look for fun and entertainment on web. They don’t have any definite goal in mind like adults while surfing. This allows a web designer to attract and engage a child with interactive, engaging and colorful tools. A website designed for children users should have a clean user interface with vibrant colors.

The little ones find it hard to distinguish between content and advertisement. As such, use of integrated advertisement should be minimized. Using icons, animations and sounds can have wonderful effect. Relating content to known characters and providing interactive games inspires and attracts children to a site.

Designing for teens

Teen users are more efficient than children and look for smarter site design that gives them the feel of “grown-up”. These users frequent social network sites and become accustomed with advanced layouts and navigational schemes.

Most users in this group explore various devices like mobile phones, laptops or iPads for accessing desired websites. They have a higher level of patience than little ones. Several researches have shown that teenagers are excited to express their opinions in several forums and social networks.

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They are more social and active than adults and enjoy becoming part of a group or community. While designing teen specific content or page consider how these socially inclined users can contribute to the website and spend their free time to promote the site among friends.

There are few things like clean UI and wonderful graphical content that may draw teens to a site. Avoid using too simplistic content. Try to give them a feel of grown up and use animations and sound accordingly. Try to follow a popular culture and trend that is popular among teens in your target area.

Designing for adult users

A large number of users have been part of this web evolution. Starting from simple HTML pages to dynamic web pages and interactive elements and advanced navigational tools. It has been a feast for these users. This is probably the largest group using web for professional, entertainment and learning purposes. Many designers look forward to these users for usability testing and feedback of their work.

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Users from different age groups falls within this category. While the younger people are highly skillful and demanding, seniors are web-savvy but conservative. It is challenging for a web designer to balance the demands of these different age groups.

To make matters worse a large number of users in this group are not computer literate in true sense. A survey conducted by Google revealed that a large number of users don’t have any idea about a browser, although they use the default one usually provided by the operating system. Still, these users can more efficiently locate navigational links and access desired information than teens. They don’t need step by step guidance like teens and children.

While designing a website for adults a designer should be aware about the goals of the target user groups. While younger generation love to discover, adults search for goal oriented specific objectives. They are usually more forgiving than teens and children regarding user experience and accessibility.

However, this usually comes at the cost of low social interaction and averse attitude to advertising. Adults are more concerned about easy accessibility via smart navigation. They are not easily drawn or influenced by animations and sounds like younger ones.

Designing for seniors

People aged more than 60 are increasingly getting accustomed to intricacies of web. They are the fastest growing community of internet users. Seniors primarily use internet for seeking health related information, planning travel and email. With increase in age there are problems like vision and decline in cognitive abilities.

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Site designing for seniors should take care of some basic problems. It is desirable using sans serif typeface that is not condensed (like Helvetica). Type size for body of the text should be 12-14 point. Left justified text is best for seniors. Make sure that there is enough spacing between the lines.

Using dark type or graphics against a light background is preferable. The information or content should be presented in a clear and familiar way with minimum interference. Use active voice and simple language to communicate. Make sure to provide a glossary of technical terms. Break chunks of content to short and relevant sections.

Increasing the ease of navigation helps the seniors in accessing desired information quickly. Try using a standard page design with similar symbols and icons. Use similar navigation buttons for moving from one page to other.

Integrate text with icons wherever possible and try using large buttons that don’t require precise mouse movements to get activated. Buttons like “Previous Page” and “Next Page” are very useful for seniors surfing a site. A sitemap is also helpful for guiding them throughout the site.

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