Designing Your Website for Teens
If your website targets teenagers, how ideal is your web design for them? Teens are one of the most difficult demographics to attract on the web. They have specific desires, needs and habits (and these change at the drop of a hat), so it’s up to you to do your research and get to know them to the best of your ability. The better you succeed at this, the better your power to appeal to them will be.
Before you get into the design, first get into the head of the teenager—better yet, if you can remember what it was like being a teen yourself, go there, too. After all, teens have progressed through the generations unscathed and relatively unchanged. While the psyche of these pre-adults haven’t changed, technology has, so let’s keep this all in mind.
You might remember the following characteristics of yourself as a teen and what motivated you, and today’s teens are not much different:
- Impatience – They want everything «yesterday», so to speak, so offer your content quickly and make it undeniably and easily accessible. Because of this trait, they will likely leave your page if it doesn’t load rapidly or if they can’t find what they were looking for, or if they don’t see anything interesting. Consequently, if they aren’t liking what they see, they will become bored. This behavior can also lead to snap judgements, which may or may not be merited.
- Limited Reading Skills – There are always exceptions to this fact, of course, but in general, our teen target audience not only has a basic reading level (they are young; what would you expect, otherwise?) they will tend to read only a small percentage of reading material in front of them by scanning. Stay on the point; be short and sweet (and entertaining if possible.) Make your most important ideas visible whether highlighted or larger and eye catching.
- Discerning – While you try to make your site engaging, be aware that the teen can see through all attempts at being flashy for flashy’s sake, and will detect your shot at creating «smoke and whistles.» Don’t just grasp aimlessly at whatever you think will be intriguing, rather, BE sincerely intriguing. Easier said than done, we realize, but do make an effort.
- Tech Savvy? – Contrary to popular belief, not all teens use smartphones exclusively. They do, however, use all sorts of tech like desktops, laptops and tablets. Additionally, plan on making your web pages friendly to Android, Apple computers and mobile devices (iPhones, etc.) and PC desktops.
Why are teens on the internet, in the first place? What are they looking for?
- Entertainment: games, music, viral videos, fashion, film and celebrity gossip, among others
- Special Interests/Hobbies – It would be whatever they’re into whether finding fun things to do, learning to play guitar or other instruments, or learning another skill like cooking, arts & crafts, etc.
- Assignments for School – Teens these days have the luxury of doing their homework using the internet, and since it’s usually easy to find what you’re looking for, it’s the search vehicle of choice. Take advantage of this little tidbit.
- Shopping – While some teenagers don’t have purchase power, they do have research power. If they want something and find it on the internet, this information can then be passed to a parent or someone else with «the plastic»!
- Daily News – Teens like to be in-the-know about what’s happening in the news, in sports, in entertainment and more.
- Being Sociable – It’s general human nature to want to be in communication with your friends, and this is especially of utmost importance to teens. Keep this in mind and make sure your site can be shared via social networking sites.
Given these above teen habits and comportment, what should you focus your attention on when planning your website? We’d like to offer some suggestions:
- Bullet Lists! Readers of all ages, not exclusively teens, are more likely to read bullet lists. (Did you notice this article is very heavy on bullet lists?)
- Simplicity – Use one idea per paragraph but keep it all short and concise or better yet, put ideas into the titles and sub headings. That way, if readers are just scanning the pages, they’ll read information in the headlines.
- Social Network Buttons – Make it easy for readers to forward your posts and articles by making buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Imgur, Tumblr, Instagram and other social networking sites.
- Don’t try to be cute – Teens can tell when adults are overdoing it, trying too hard and attempting to lure them in with flashiness and clever(ish) text. Don’t do this! Be sincere and honest yet if possible try to grab attention.Quality Images – Select images that go with the theme of your text and choose high quality photos or take photos of excellent calibur. Make sure the images are eye catching and provocative (in a natural, innocent way).