The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2002-05-08T13:56:00Z Nielsen Norman Group Report Dispels Common Myth That Children Are Masters of Technology 2002-05-08T13:56:00Z nielsen-norman-group-report-dispels-common-myth-that-children-are-masters-of-technology Contrary to the often-held assumption that children quickly master anything on a computer, a new study from Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) found that children are just as likely as adults to get frustrated and give up their efforts when using poorly designed websites. In the first major study actually to observe children using a wide range of websites, usability expert Jakob Nielsen and user experience specialist Shuli Gilutz of NNG found that children do not have the patience to work their way through the complex designs typical of many websites specifically targeted to them. The report, entitled Usability of Websites for Children: 70 Design Guidelines, describes how children experience the Web, and what organisations that want to reach and serve them can do to improve childrens success with their websites. Our study convinced us that most websites for children are built upon pure folklore about how kids supposedly behave, said Jakob Nielsen, principal of NNG, For example, while its true--as one would assume--that kids love wiz-bang animation and sound effects, even these things wont hold their attention if they come upon something too difficult to figure out, or they get lost on a website. Children are quick to close the window and find something else to do. NNG undertook the study in view of the growing number of children online, and the scarcity of information regarding their use of the Web. According to an August 2001 report from Datamonitor, there are estimated 65.3 million children ages five to 17 in the United States and Western Europe who have access to the Internet at home, while 54.1 million have access at school. NNGs Website Usability for Children report is based on usability testing with 55 children in the United States and Israel who were in the first through fifth grades. The children were observed interacting with 24 websites designed for children and three mainstream websites designed for adult users. Findings included the following:  if an activity is not almost immediately apparent and satisfying, children look for something else that is satisfying;  children love interactivity, but if the interface is complex, they leave in frustration after failing to complete the activity;  fancy wording instead of straightforward language in interfaces confuses children and prevents them from understanding the choices available to them;  children are easily frustrated by inconsistent navigation options where the same destination is referred to in different ways;  in contrast to findings in NNG usability studies with adults, children: 1) click on advertising; they do not distinguish between content and advertising; 2) like animation and sound effects; 3) are willing to indulge in minesweeping behaviour in which they roll the mouse over a page to find places of interactivity; 4) rarely scroll pages, and mainly interact with information that was visible above the fold; 5) are willing to read instructions; 6) exhibit gender differences; boys are more annoyed by verbose pages while girls like instructions; boys spend more time alone on the computer, girls spend more time with a parent. The NNG report concludes that children want content that is entertaining, funny, colourful and uses a good deal of multimedia effects. Website Usability for Children co-authors Nielsen and Gilutz recommend that the user interface, in terms of homepage design and navigation systems, should get out of the way and allow children to get to the content as simply as possible. The 128-page report, Usability of Websites for Children, is available to download for (US) $125 at http://www.nngroup.com/reports/kids. ### Senior Citizens Find Challenge and Satisfaction in Web Use Nielsen Norman Group Releases Report On Web Usability for People Age 65 and Older San Francisco, CA - Senior citizens have significantly more difficulty using the Web than those who are decades younger, but they nonetheless report strong satisfaction with the experience, according to a report entitled Web Usability for Senior Citizens released today by Nielsen Norman Group (NNG). In a study in which people age 65 and older and a control group of younger people were observed performing the same tasks on the Web, usability expert Jakob Nielsen and director of research Kara Pernice Coyne of NNG found that the Web is more than twice as easy to use for non-seniors as it was for seniors. Even though seniors were less successful and took more time completing the study tasks than people in the control group, their relative satisfaction was higher. Given that most websites are produced by young people who probably take it for granted that all Web users have perfect vision and motor control, we were not surprised that the seniors had a tougher time with the tasks than the younger test participants, said Jakob Nielsen, principal of NNG, What did surprise us is what good sports the seniors were about it. They tended to see the positive parts in generally negative experiences. They enjoyed a good challenge. Seniors are one of the fastest growing demographics on the Web, a trend that is not likely to slow down given that there have been dramatic increases worldwide in the numbers of people living to an advanced age. The United Nations Population Division predicted in 1999 that by the year 2050, for the first time in human history, the population of older persons, age 60 and older, will be larger than the population of children, age 0-14. To learn how seniors use the Web, NNG conducted usability tests in the United States and Japan with more than 40 senior citizens and a control group of 20 people between the ages of 21 and 55. In part of the study, seniors and the control group were asked to perform the same four tasks: Fact finding, buying an item, retrieving information, and comparing and contrasting information on a single topic. The test involved 10 U.S. websites and four Japanese websites. Following are the results:  Success rate (task completed correctly): seniors completed a given task 52.9% of the time, the control group 78.2% of the time;  time on a task: it took seniors an average of 12 minutes 33 seconds to complete a task, 7 minutes 14 seconds for the control group;  errors (erroneous actions per task): seniors 3.7; control group 0.6; and  subjective rating (1-7 scale with 7 indicating the most positive): seniors 3.7, control group 4.6. When it works for them, the Web is already an enriching part of many seniors lives. The usability improvements we recommend as a result of our study will benefit not only seniors, but also younger users, who-after all--are likely one day to become part of the senior users group. Its never too early to start designing for the future, advised study lead Kara Coyne, NNG director of research. The 125-page report, Web Usability for Senior Citizens: Design Guidelines Based on Usability Studies with People Age 65 and Older, is available to download for $125 at <http://www.nngroup.com/reports/seniors>. -ends- Nielsen Norman Group (<http://www.nngroup.com>) is a user-experience think tank that advises companies on how to succeed through human-centred design of products and services. Nielsen Norman Group principals Jakob Nielsen, Don Norman and Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini are each world-renowned experts in usability and human use of technology. Besides authoring books and evangelising about user experience, they and the other user-experience specialists at Nielsen Norman Group offer high-level strategic consultation on usability of websites, consumer products, software designs and anything else that needs to be easy-to-use.