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Age Responsive Design

06/04/2017

If you've ever seen a child play with a tablet or smartphone, you'll know that our age and stage of life has a big impact upon how we use the web and interact with websites and apps. Following the 'responsive design' revolution that recently birthed mobile-friendly websites, we may now be on the cusp of the next big shift: age responsive design - design that allows websites to provide different experiences for users of different ages.

Most websites rely on the optimum user, usually the millennial generation or generation-x, the techy-savvy group with pre-existing knowledge of web conventions. For many people outside of this generation, using the web can be a frustrating experience. Age responsive design aims to change this by tailoring content to suit the capabilities of users not just their screen.

Online advertisers have already been targeting ads at specific age groups for some time and the same goes for video game makers who offer a tailored gaming experience to suit varying levels of abilities. So why shouldn’t using the web be the same?

Currently a responsive website layout focuses on restructuring content to fit the screen of the users device, be it smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Whilst this provides an optimal viewing and interactive experience it does not consider the needs and abilities of the user.

An age responsive website uses metadata to determine the age of the user, after which, content is then displayed differently based on this information. For example, an elderly user with poor eyesight might find it difficult to read small text on the web, so larger font size is displayed. If our user is a child, the complexity of the language could be altered to make it easier for them to understand and possibly brighter colours could be used.

Larger companies with an extensive customer base may need a number of different versions of their site to accommodate the varying age groups, whereas smaller companies may only need to target one generation.

Although this technology hasn’t yet taken off and there doesn’t appear to be any working examples, this just means it’s yet to be implemented successfully. Once this has been achieved Age Responsive Design has the potential to offer the ultimate user experience and you should be ready to implement it on your site.

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