Here at Mediabarn Research Services, we have conducted research studies with users from 2 to 70 years old. There are very obvious differences among user groups, but one study in particular brought differences based on age to light.
Our client’s target market is comprised mainly of adults aged 25-65, skewing somewhat more male than female. While we expected to find more significant differences in the way gender influences usage of the website, what we uncovered was that age played a bigger role in user expectations and ease of use.
Users at the lower end of the age range had noticeably different expectations regarding nomenclature and content organization than older users. It seemed that younger users had a more accurate sense of the way the site should be organized and where they would look for information. Older users seemed to expect less of the site. Our conclusion was that web users under the age of 40 are familiar with such a variety of sites, and technology use is such a standard practice for them, that they have higher expectations than older users.
What does this mean for researchers and web developers? Good question! In the case of websites or applications geared toward the general population, focusing on the user experience of those at the younger end of the spectrum will require developers to meet their expectations, which will help to advance and improve the way we all use technology.