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Nielsen Norman Group Survey Finds Websites Not Well Designed for Teenagers

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Given how the lives of today’s generation of teens are so intertwined with technology, most notably the Internet, it’s become especially important for web designers to be mindful of the Internet habits of teenagers when designing websites. Short attention spans, information just a click away, and text message interruptions are the norm with teens, which call for a clear reassessment of web design.

The Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g), a firm that specialises in computer user interface development and user experience, recently released the findings of multiple studies on how websites can be improved to match the preferences and web abilities of teenagers.

Web designers and online marketers may find NN/g’s findings surprising, what with the discrepancies it shows with current stereotypes, showing yet again that grown-ups have little or no idea of how teenagers think, in this case, when Internet usage is concerned.

NN/g’s research disproves the following assumptions:

  • Teenagers are tech savvy by default
  • Teenagers depend heavily on smartphones
  • Teenagers want a social aspect to their entire Internet experience
  • Teenagers are fans of online multimedia and graphics content

In other words, the NN/g’s study shows that not all teens are fearless techies, tethered to online media. We at Enform believe that such assumptions are oversimplifications at best, and can potentially lead your web design plans to fail.

Teens’ Purpose for Website Use

Just like adults, teenagers go online for a plethora of reasons, entertainment chief among them. Teens generally have specific goals for using websites, even if they mainly involve killing time for only 10 minutes. As with adults, teens want websites to be easy to use and navigate through, making it quick and simple to accomplish tasks. Teens don’t just surf the web aimlessly, which makes website design just as important with them as it is with adults.

Among the most basic purposes teens use the web for, include:

  • Homework
  • Hobbies
  • Entertainment (e.g. music and games)
  • News
  • Communicating with friends
  • Shopping
  • Product research (even if teens have little purchasing power, they still look for products for their wish lists and for purchases through their credit-card-holding guardians/adults)

By comparing previous studies with their latest findings, NN/g found that teens have grown to become more successful at navigating through websites. During the 8 years that passed between old and new studies, the firm’s research shows that teens show an annual 2-percent increase in the success of their online tasks. 

However, teens aren’t as web-proficient as you might think. Even with the improvements they’ve made over the past decade, they still make mistakes, and when they do, they often give up immediately. With their impulsive decision-making, teens still have a lower success rate for achieving their website goals compared to adults—71 percent for teens vs. 83 percent for adults.

NN/g found 3 reasons for this problem.

  • Lower literacy rates
  • Poor research strategies
  • Higher tendency to be impatient

Given these three issues, NN/g made the following recommendations on web design for teenagers.

NN/g Recommendations:

Improve Content Writing

Create content for impatient users. Younger audiences shy away from pages with walls of text. In other words, they’re not keen on spending too much time reading—they already do that in school.

Communicating with teens requires the use of effective web writing and formatting techniques. Highlight content in brief yet information-filled photographs, use bulleted lists, and be smarter with your keyword usage.

Use easy-to-understand words instead of terms more understood by college graduates. Use short sentences and write through a 6th-grade reading perspective.

Make your Content Entertaining, but Don’t Overdo It

NN/g’s surveyed teens complained about sites that were too boring. Dull content is the bane of websites, but don’t go overboard with interactive and fancy designs. Teenagers are usually drawn to eye-pleasing websites, but they hate cluttered and multimedia-loaded sites (we’re looking at you fans of Adobe Flash).

Some of the interactive features teens are actually drawn to, include:

  • Online games and quizzes
  • Online forms for feedback
  • Online polls
  • Site features for sharing content like pictures, videos or stories
  • Message boards/online forums

Snappy Websites are Gold

Nothing irritates a teenager more than a slow-loading website, so make sure you have a fast, bug-free website. Younger Internet users have a tendency to expect instant gratification, so place speed on top of your list of design priorities.

Avoid widgets that add to your site’s loading time, even if you think they’re cool and add value to your site.

Don Treat Teenagers as Dumb

For your site’s content, avoid using a tone that’s babyish or condescending. Teens feel ostracised by content made for “grownups,” but they don’t want to be talked down to. NN/g’s studies found that teebs gravitate towards content created by peers, so create content that includes images, real stories and examples from other teenagers.

NN/g’s studies surveyed websites included sites aimed at both teenagers and children, using the word “Kid,” which had an effect of driving away teens. They also showed an aversion to garish and colourful web designs.

Give Teenagers Control Over Social Features

Give teens an option to share content, but don’t force it on them. Teenagers like the social aspect of the Internet, but they’re not obsessed over it, despite what’s shown in movies and TV.

Today’s teens are also taught to be more careful with their privacy, so avoid using features like forced registration, automatic linking with Facebook/Twitter profiles and more.

Sharing options should also include email, since according to the studies, teenagers actually prefer using email to protect their social accounts and online activity.

What About the Adults?

Now you may be wondering, “If I adjust my website for teens, won’t that compromise my adult audience?” We at Enform believe that the changes needed to attract teens won’t drive away adults; in fact, it will only target an additional population of adults composed of:

  • Adults with insufficient reading skills
  • Adults new to the Internet
  • Adult users who want to achieve their website goals faster

As you can see, these changes may be tailored for teenagers, but they also target an important segment of adults.

Social Media Generates Intense Interest. Will it be Profitable in 2013?

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According to a 2012 study by Econsultancy, social media engagement proved to be the most exciting digital opportunities for marketers during the previous year. The study, which saw 54 percent of respondents—consisting of company marketers and agents—considered social media as the online marketing opportunity they’re most passionate about, rating it ahead of three digital opportunities.

These include:

  • Mobile optimisation at 38 percent
  • Content optimisation at 37 percent
  • Conversion rate optimisation at 31 percent
  • Brand/viral marketing at 27 percent
  • Video marketing at 24 percent

Social Media Considered a Top Priority

Surveyed marketers also noted that for the year 2012, social media marketing would be included in their top three priorities. In fact, social media engagement, along with content optimisation, topped the list at 39 percent. This was followed by:

  • Brand/viral marketing at 32 percent
  • Mobile optimisation at 29 percent
  • Content marketing at 29 percent

Passion Not Translating to Revenue

The same survey however, shows that while social media marketing is a high priority and engaging point of discussion, marketers still can’t figure out how to make it effective when it comes to generating revenue. Among the companies and agencies who participated in the survey, close to half admitted that while social media has added new goals and programs to their marketing schemes, it hasn’t generated much revenue to support new hires.

However, if used correctly, social media can provide a platform for business growth and networking at a convenience. The use of blogs and social networks, for instance, Facebook and Twitter, companies can market a new product or offers directly to their intended market. But, it is imperative that any message sent via social media needs to convey a strong and meaningful message or else it will be seen as ‘junk’ and become irrelevant.

What Will the New Year Hold?

With 2013 upon us, we at Enform believe that the time is ripe for social media to finally become a real income-generating platform for companies looking to expand their online presence. We earlier reported a disparity between the goals of brand marketers and what consumers wanted from brands, and we think the two camps will finally see eye to eye this year.


Google Unveils Web Development Tools for +1 Button

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With Facebook making an aggressive push for user eyeballs (traffic), Google’s position as king of the hill has been slowly eroded, thanks to the social networking giant’s 500 million strong members. Facebook’s rise has been so meteoric that it now outranks Google as the most visited website in the United States.

Google however, isn’t just sitting on their hands after hearing about the news—contrary to what many people in the industry think, they’ve been busy working on how to push Facebook back. There’s a brewing battle between the search engine and the social media network, a battle for portal space on the world known as the Internet to most people.

Google +1

Google gave us a preview on what they were working on by introducing +1 Button in their search engine results sometime ago in March. The button allows web users to “vote” pages with useful content, giving them more control over their engine rankings. In June however, Google took things a step further, by rolling out a widget that enables webmasters to integrate the button into their own web pages, much in the same manner in which Twitter’s “Tweet” and Facebook’s “Like” buttons are being utilized today.

The widget’s introduction however, was met by confusion among some in the web development community, due to the vague nature of the button’s effects/benefits. No tangible results could be observed by clicking the buttons repeatedly. Did it increase user traffic, or page rank?

That has changed today, as the company announced the inclusion of +1 data Google’s Webmaster tools, effectively allowing site owners to keep track of the +1 Button’s effects, both traffic and rank wise. Webmasters will now be able to see how many +1’s their pages have in total. And just like with Facebook’s Like Button, Google also provides analytics on their widget’s performance.

For users, the +1 Button’s value will show in areas such as improved search results, and integration with Google’s new social network, Google+. Only time will tell however, if the effort pays off. It just might meet the same fate of Google Wave. One thing is certain though, the web IS and will ALWAYS be dynamic. Good thing you have Enform to keep you and your brand up to date.

Changes in the World of News Media

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Almost everyone knows the far-reaching effects of the global recession that began in 2008, with millions of jobs lost, thousand of foreclosures and thousands more declaring bankruptcy. However, hardly anyone was privy to the state of American news media during those times of economic crisis.

After 2 consecutive years of low revenues and cutbacks, it seems that the news media industry in the United States finally saw a better year overall in 2010. Cutbacks in news agencies saw decrease during the previous year, and most sectors were beginning to approach normal levels of revenue.

Of course, there are a few notable exceptions. The newspaper industry for example, still suffers from an annual sharp decrease in revenue. But then again, the problems that plague this sector never really had anything to do with the recession anyway. As early as 2004, analysts have already predicted the demise of America’s newspapers due to the growth of the Internet—the economic crisis just exacerbated the situation.

What’s more important behind all this is the shift in journalism methods and avenues, which became more evident in the last year. The main problem is no longer about increasing an audience and carrying out experiments to generate more revenue. Instead, the challenge lies in maximizing the reach of digital media, a platform which now has an unforeseeable future due to the extremely fast pace of technology.

While the old structure of news organizations producing most of the content remains largely unchanged, it’s the way that content is delivered to consumers and advertisers that’s evolving at an unpredictable rate. Each technological advancement essentially adds a new dimension to the way news is provided to an audience; it also brings in new players who have control over how news is aggregated.

It used to be that all news organizations had to do was produce the news and rely on networks to sell the ads. As the Internet became a more mature platform to share content, aggregators such as search engine Google and social networks like Facebook and Twitter were tasked to spread the news to a large audience.

However, the combination of the Internet and cutting edge technology has made changes to the way news is consumed. As people begin to rely more on mobile media consumption, the rules of the game take an interesting turn as well. News organizations must now abide by the designs and rules of software developers and digital device manufacturers, as of the moment, both Apple and Google are leading the race, with each company coming out with their own line of mobile devices and mobile software.

This in effect has changed the way ads are created and displayed, with new players now exercising more control over revenue and audience reach. Enform can help your company take advantage of this shift. Give us a call anytime so we can discuss newer and better ways of engaging your target market.

Top 5 Social Media Misconceptions Exposed – Part 1

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Peter Wylie of SocialMediaExaminer sheds some light on the top 5 myths that’s been keeping a huge number of businesses away from an effective marketing medium, social media.

1st Social Media Misconception: My Customers Don’t Do Social Media

On top of the list is probably the most shocking of them all, there are actually a lot of businesses who say, “My customers don’t do social media.” Such a revenue losing statement obviously has not seen the numbers behind this cultural sensation.

Facebook alone has over 400 million users worldwide and growing. The site’s user demographics? From ages 2-100 years old and that’s to say the least. And, let’s not forget there are a number of other notable social networking sites out there too, each with their own respected user base. In a word, it’s encompassing and there’s no reason your potential customers are not on it.

social networking age statistics

To boot, social media’s coverage doesn’t just end with Facebook or Twitter either. There are also a range of forums where people have been interacting even before the term “social media” has been coined. That’s at least another hundred million more informed consumers for your business to communicate with.

Enform believes there no denying that social media has become part of our daily lives just as the internet has and its potential as a marketing platform is becoming more of a necessity than an option.

Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/top-5-social-media-myths-debunked/