How about age-responsive UX and UI design?

When working on a new project, one the first thing I’d ask you is – what’s your target audience? Who’s your end-user? And most importantly – how old are they? It might sound funny, but this is one of the most significant considerations when building the UX and UI of a new product.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that age-responsive design is already a thing. In the last decade, we’ve been focusing so much on responsive design and making sure that our websites work seamlessly on all devices, that we left other, equally important considerations behind. This let to a generation of flat, clean, minimalistic sites that all look the same. When I get a new start-up client to build their UX and UI design, the examples of website they like are usually so similar, that sometimes it’s even challenging for me to experiment and build something that you haven’t seen before. We all love white, flat landing pages with an impressive image as a background and stylish fonts to spice it up. That looks perfect. But does it work perfectly?

It does, but only for a specific generation of users.

So how is age-responsive design influencing the future?

Think like this – the brain of a 7 years-old and a 70-years old work completely different. Their habits, vision, behavioral patterns when browsing, taste, interests, experience and legacy as web users is completely different. Now let’s add to this list – the teenagers, Generation X, the Baby Boomers. The picture got quite colourful. And yet – 90% of designer design mainly for millennials. Why? Because most of the designers you’d hire to do your UX/UI design, especially in London, are millenials. Even the top professional designers have their own taste and trends they follow. Hence, the samie websites we see all over the internet.

In a nutshell, each generation uses the web differently and has a different set of expectations of what is a good website. A fun animated video on the homepage is probably not the best approach for a pension advisors website. A flat stylish photo as a background though is equally inappropriate. The fact that is trendy doesn’t mean it serves the right need.

A few basic rules good UX/UI designers always follow:

  • Larger fonts and spacing for older people
  • Bright colours and interactive features for children
  • Practical and classic for the Baby Boomers
  • Trustworthy and stylish for Generation X
  • Time saving and a wow-effect for Millennials (less clicks, please!)
  • All about mobile for Generation Z (think Snapchat, instead of Twitter and Facebook)

One last piece of advice – monitor who your users are, this is now super easy thanks for Google and Facebook. Designing for the end-user is a good starting point, but once you have the data make sure that your users are really the people you expected them to be when you started your project.