There is a theory that our expectations of technology – how it works, the ways we interact with it and get it to do stuff, what we can expect of it, and the next logical step in its evolution – are set for us by the time we hit puberty.
CNN has been making hash of this idea promoting their new documentary series The Eighties by pairing kids with technology that was in the 1980s cutting edge and recording the results as these kids try to figure out tech that to some of us is as intuitive as opening a door or flushing a standard toilet.
If we really do get a fixed idea of what tech is and how to use it by the time we hit our early teens, UX designers and architects have a lot of work cut out for us.
A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2015 found that 97% of households had a television, 83% owned a tablet, and 77% owned smartphones.
In the households studied, almost 97% of children used mobile devices, most of them starting to do so before the age of 1. By the age of 2 most children used some sort of device daily and “spent comparable screen time on television and mobile devices” and that most 3 and 4-year-olds used devices without any type of help engaging in what the researchers referred to as “media multitasking.”
So how do you provide a good user experience to people used to swiping and pinching while still providing a good user experience for someone who is in their 60s right now?
My approach: take a look at context. It’s our job to figure out how users are coming to our sites or products and design for that context.
Once we can understand users’ contexts, which includes their age group, we can design something they can use, and enjoy using.