Viewing and interacting on a website should be egalitarian. In the past, the web was mainly used by professionals, but these days kids of all ages are accessing sites and need to be able to feel fully immersed. They call it a web experience because it should be just that; an experience. However, not all experiences are created equal, and for everyone to have a positive interaction, it is key to design your website with different age groups in mind.
Let’s start with small children (for the purpose of this blog, we mean those under ten years of age). There are distinct, easy wins when designing a website for kids. Children don’t need as much of an end goal or an obvious conversion path. They are simply looking for entertainment, and that can be achieved using elements of design like colors and interactive elements.
However, on the flip side, it is also noted that limited motor skills are a factor. While children’s minds are incredibly sophisticated, their fingers may not move quite as quickly as an adult, and that could result in frustration. Therefore, web designers need to consider interaction and movement throughout sites that kids may be accessing.
While the tween to teen phase covers quite a wide range of individuals, the important design elements are pretty standard. This group is looking for a clean graphic-forward web design that utilizes animation and sound with minimal text.
However, whatever you do, don’t oversimplify your design. Remember, creating age-appropriate design is a way to show respect to your users.
Arguably, the most talked about and most frequently misunderstood group of individuals in the current world is millennials. So how should you design your website for them?
It boils down to best practices including scannable content with white space for visual “breathing” room, testing out different design options, providing multiple non-verbal contact methods (like forms), offering self-guided options that help them in some way (FAQs etc.), offering specials or deals right away (via pop-ups etc.), integrating social media, and making them feel like they can establish a genuine connection with you through your site.
Experts assert that Gen X users are goal-oriented online. Basically, they are looking to get in, get out, and get on with their lives. They are a driven population that isn’t really looking for pop-ups, social media integration or flash. Focus on helping them get there in an efficient and valuable manner, and you will win their favor.
However, if you are designing for someone above that age bracket, you need to adopt a different strategy. Simplicity. Why? It’s all about easy navigation (make sure to include it in a lot of places as well), providing support to avoid confusion, and of course, accessibility by choosing the right-sized fonts and large call-to-action buttons. Design with ease of use in mind, and you will create happy customers.