The creeping spread of internet use into all components of our society has bred savvy web-surfers out of previously unexpected demographics. For example, elderly Americans are growing more and more likely on average to have an email account, use Facebook, and get their news online. The same can be said for preteens and younger children. While the Millennial generation may have grown up with minimal and highly restricted internet access, their successors – termed “Generation Z” – are those children born since the late 1990s who have always known computer use as a way of life. This generation took to cell phones, email, and social media accounts at a young age. Although they still receive a good deal of parental supervision, Generation Z has been raised with the digital street smarts necessary to navigate the risks and dangers in the online world.
But while the generation may be mature from a digital perspective, they are still kids in every other respect (the oldest are finishing high school, yet most are in middle school or younger). These young web browsers have their own tastes and interests. They have their own habits of virtual consumerism. And, it goes to reason, they have different preferences when it comes to web design.
On this note, if you are designing your website with a younger target demographic in mind, here are a few things to consider:
Use the right color scheme
The research has shown that kids are usually more swayed by bold color schemes than are adults. Such schemes may include bright or clashing colors, but no matter their specifics the goal is that they don’t convey an impression of “boring” – that, rather, they liven a site with a strong, eye-catching design. You may want to consider using a website hosting service that offers such a possibility.
Older Americans like when their online content reflects traditional mediums in digital form. Specifically, they read newspapers, articles, and other written pieces on the internet – content all of which gives prominence to the use of words. But younger generations are increasingly turning to the internet in search of the interactive experience offered by games and videos. When designing a site for a young audience, then, it is not sufficient simply to provide copious images; rather, you should try to make the site’s design as interactive as possible. This may require splitting up web pages and making content less condensed.
Keep it clear.
Nobody likes a cluttered site, but younger readers are even more likely to get overwhelmed when faced with numerous links and a haphazard organizational structure. As in most cases, it is consequently in the site’s best interest to err on the side of doing less rather than doing it all.
Don’t forget the parents.
Younger kids may have internet freedom to a degree that even their older siblings could not have imaged ten years ago, but this does not mean that parents have become completely-hands off in the process. Parents still monitor their children’s internet activity and want know that the sites they visit are safe and valuable. Don’t forget to keep these supervising eyes in mind when designing a site for younger consumption.
Hopefully these tips can help make your kid-friendly website a more appealing one from a design perspective. While the number of Generation Zers online is small when compared to Boomers and members of Gen X, they represent a growing demographic that will become only more prominent in coming years. Your design approach, if necessary, might as well start adapting now.