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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


The Electronic Recruiting News is a Free Daily Newsletter For Recruiters, HR Managers, Advertising Agencies and Clasified Advertising Operations

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(February 24, 2003) -
-  Our 13 year old designs websites for fun. She uses readily available web tools and never, ever asks for adult assistance. When we talk with her about the design of user experience, she understands that it is not an exotic conceptual issue. For her, it's all about whether or not the people who visit her sites can use them.

She's hardly alone. All of her friends also design websites. Virtually all American 13 year olds are online.  The issues that seem conceptual to someone who hasn't designed a website are the stuff of conversation in the thirteen year old set in our town.

She knows that a website can be rude and tries to make her work easily accessible for someone who may not immediately know "where she's coming from".

She also manages to test her work, using an email list to gather comments from groups of potential visitors before she opens it to the public. Usability testing, in other words, is just a part of the millieu.

It's clear that she's a cyber-child. While engaged in site design, she is able to hold 6 or 7 simultaneous conversations over Instant Messaging systems while chatting on the land line and her cell phone.

This is the current world of the web for our children and yours. They are fluent in design, construction and deconstruction of the web as a communications medium.

We've been showing a group of thirteen year olds, with this skill level, a range of employment websites. "Why do I have to click so many times to search the jobs?" and "Why do they use all of those meaningless graphics?" are the comments most likely to be generated by the group.

The kids know that while a picture can be worth a thousand words, many pictures on the web are woth minus ten words. They live in a world of simulations (thanks to our friends at Electronic Arts) and assume that 'good' websites have been designed with them in mind. They can tell which sites were designed by people who are web-literate and which come from people who still think like paper is the dominant medium. None of them have working printers (only teachers want printed output).

Her 20 year old sister is living a similar life in New York City. The details vary a little bit but the control and utilization of technology is the same. Like all of the peers in the age group (13 to 25, roughly), the only way to reach them is on the web.

Do you think your company's website measures up to their expectations?

- John Sumser  

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
Mill Valley, CA 94941

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         Materials written
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         © TwoColorHat.
         All Rights Reserved.