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Mandate Media: Digital Strategy for People Changing the World
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Reaching the "youth" audience

I've sat in on a lot of early meetings with politicos who want to use their websites to talk to "young" people. (Sometimes they mean high school and college students; sometimes they go all the way up to 30 years old. Who are they kidding?)

Often, the assumption is that high school and college students want jazzy animated graphics produced in Flash or glitzy web designs with lots of liquid metal ornamentation. That assumption could not be more wrong.

According to a study by Jakob Nielsen, the smartest web usability guru anywhere, young people don't like that stuff at all:

We did confirm that teens like cool-looking graphics and that they pay more attention to a website's visual appearance than adult users do. Still, the sites that our teen users rated the highest for subjective satisfaction were sites with a relatively modest, clean design. They typically marked down overly glitzy sites as too difficult to use. Teenagers like to do stuff on the Web, and dislike sites that are slow or that look fancy but behave clumsily.

Oh, and one more note: Don't ever, ever, ever refer to anyone over twelve years old as a "kid". That's a surefire way to cause them to hit the BACK button.