Teenagers (Ages 13-17) on the Web

2nd Edition

Report PDF cover image

Technology is so integrated with the lives of teenagers that creating useful and usable websites for them is more critical than ever. If it doesn’t work right, it sucks. However, teens aren't as technologically savvy as you might think, nor do they use their Smartphones and social media for everything.

We conducted empirical usability studies with real teens to determine specifics for how websites can be improved to match their abilities and preferences.

This 328-page report presents 111 design guidelines for creating compelling websites for users aged 13–17. Findings and guidelines are supplemented with discussions, photos, and 280 screenshots, showing specific designs that worked well or worked poorly for teenagers.

Topics covered

  • Misconceptions about teenagers
  • Comparing usability to other age groups
  • Reasons teens visit websites
  • Where teens use the internet
  • Struggling blocks for teenagers
  • Checklist of 111 design recommendations that will make your website more suited for teenagers and easier for them to use
    • Social networking
    • Account sign up
    • Ergonomics
    • Mobile devices
    • School websites
    • Distractions and loading time
    • E-commerce
    • Navigation
    • Search
    • Writing for the web
    • Visual design
    • Interaction design
    • Games
    • Images
    • Videos
  • Websites that teens like
  • Gender differences
  • Advice from teens
  • Balancing what teens want and what they need
  • Detailed methodology section that shows how you can conduct your own usability studies with teenagers, including where to test and how to get them to vocalize their thoughts

What's New in the 2nd Edition?

The second edition contains many new recommendations, increasing from 61 to 111 usability guidelines. For the second round of user research we also included two supplemental methodologies: field studies and a focus group.

This edition covers several new topics, including:

  • Social networking
  • Mobile considerations
  • Environments in which teens use the web
  • Search behavior and ability

Research Method

The information in this report is based on two rounds of usability research, conducted 8 years apart, with teenagers 13–17 years old. We used three different research methods:

  • One-on-one usability testing
  • Field studies, during which we observed teens in their homes and at school as they used the internet
  • Interviews and focus group, for gaining further insight into young peoples’ experiences and attitudes

Students tested the usability of 152 websites (mainstream sites and sites designed specifically for teens). The studies took place in the United States and Australia.


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