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How To Design a Teen-Targeted Website

Designing websites for specific user groups is never easy, but the key to creating a great website for your specific demographic is understanding your audience.

Teens are one such specific group and it is often wrongly assumed that they:

  • just want to be entertained online with graphics and multimedia,
  • are supremely tech savvy,
  • use smartphones for everything, and
  • want everything to be social.

In a recent study Neilsen’s Group used 3 methods of User Testing across a test base of 46 teens, pointing out that:

Teens are often stereotyped as only wanting things that are bold and different. They’re also often viewed as being fearless about technology and constantly connected to some form of media. Although this might be partially true, it’s an oversimplification and letting this steer your design can lead to disastrous outcomes.”

From the findings Neilsen’s was able to clarify several specific tasks teens are most likely to perform on the web, including:

  • School assignments
  • Hobbies or other special interests (including learning new skills or finding fun activities)
  • Entertainment (including music and games)
  • News (including sports, current events, and entertainment)
  • Learning about new topics
  • Talking to friends
  • Shopping

From these tasks it was extrapolated that, like adult users, teens expected websites to be easy to use and to let them accomplish their tasks. However there were 3 major areas where teens might perform worse than adults:

  • Insufficient reading skills
  • Less sophisticated research strategies
  • Dramatically lower levels of patience

To improve the usability of your website and make it more effective at targeting teens, you must be mindful of these three areas. To be more specific there a several things you can do right now to improve your website, including:

Write Well – Keep in mind teenagers don’t like to read much, may have difficulty understanding complicated terms and it has been found teenagers do not like tiny font sizes.

Neilsen’s also states “…aim to write at a 6th-grade reading level (or lower). Writing at this level will help audiences of all ages — young and old — quickly understand your content.”

Avoid Boring Content – Use interactive features on your website to make it more interesting for teen users, basically a dull website will send your teens packing. You might consider: Quizzes, Voting, Games, Message Boards, Forums etc.. Anything that allows the user to leave their mark or express themselves.

Keep it uncluttered – Despite an expectation that your website should be fun, it is also important to keep the aesthetics clean and easy to use. Teens have a strong appreciation for aesthetics and will leave quickly if your website is cluttered or contains pointless media.

Make It Snappy  – Teenagers (more than most other user groups) require instant gratification, so make sure your website loads instantly, is bug free and does not behave clumsily.

Don’t Talk Down to Teens – Make sure you select the correct tone for your content. Especially avoid anything that sounds babyish or condescending. If necessary, keep separate sections for children and teens.

Let Teens Control the Social Aspects – We know teens love to share, but make sure you allow them to share on their terms. For example, during registration for a website, do not presume the news should be plastered on their Facebook Wall. Allowing teens to share content is imperative but make sure that they can choose what and when to share it.

Design for Smaller Screens Mobile is taking over the web, so make sure your designs fit on different sized screens. Also consider teens might be using older computers, so make sure the website runs flawlessly.

By following these simple guidelines, you can increase the time teenagers spend on your website and potentially create a great website that keeps your target audience happy, interested and coming back for more.

Read the full article over at Neilsen’s Group Website.

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