Wednesday, 5 November 2008

How young people will interact with digital resources in five to ten years.

I have recently been looking at user behaviour for online purchasing and I came across the following report, which was commissioned by the British Library in January 2008.

It set out to investigate how the 'google generation', specifically specialist researchers of the future, currently in their school or pre-school years, are
likely to access and interact with digital resources in five to ten years’ time
Whilst focusing on library use and research, it does have some interesting findings/comments worthy of consideration for the visionaries out there.

Here are some points to take away from the report. (my comments in italics)

Internet research shows that the speed of young people’s web searching means that little time is spent in evaluating information, either for relevance, accuracy or authority.

For libraries and research this is of course hugely relevant, but for providing non research information it smacks of 'keep it simple', don't over complicate instructions, speak plain English (or whatever language is appropriate) and make it easy.

Young people have a poor understanding of their information needs and thus find it difficult to develop effective search strategies.

Again, why make it hard for the poor things, life is laid out on a plate for them and so should the site they are in. They will expect to find a house instantaneously without any real research of thought process. Big buttons and child like features will not insult them.

As a result, they exhibit a strong preference for expressing themselves in natural language rather than analysing which key words might be more effective.

As with all content writing. Just say it as it is.

Faced with a long list of search hits, young people find it difficult to assess the relevance of the materials presented and often print off pages with no more than a perfunctory glance at what the Internet is, often failing to appreciate that
it is a collection of networked resources from different providers. As a result, the search engine, be that Yahoo or Google, becomes the primary brand that they associate with the Internet.

This is really rather alarming and means that somehow one needs to get one's simplistic brand before an audience who has little appreciation of why/how you are there in the first place and perhaps has no brand loyality other than to Google. The bottom line is you just need to be there and present a simple solution.

What do I take from this and how do I see the future? I think the report concludes with what I have always said, keep it simple, period!

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