Yau Hoong Tang (Flickr) (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Meet the users

How do you know what young people think about learning, exploring and developing a portal for them? Ask them.

Yesterday we held our first consultative group session with eleven young people based in the Oxford area. Our hosts were the Into University centre in Oxford who are used to working closely with young people. The individuals in our group have been specially recruited as representative of future users of the digital outreach portal. We’ll be meeting with our Oxford consultative group weekly over the next six weeks.

The purpose of the consultative group is to receive ongoing feedback from our core audience as the digital outreach portal develops. We will ask their opinion on everything from content and design to navigation and naming. We know that young people can be a challenging audience to reach, and particularly with a first of its kind project like ours. This is why we’re going out to meet them already – we want them involved in its development. What’s more, we know young people use the internet and engage with digital technology in a way that is completely different from us older folk.

Lisa Ritager (Flickr) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0The primary focus of the first consultative group was to get to know our participants better, in particular the way they like to think and the kinds of questions they find most interesting. Just as importantly we’re interested in what devices they use and what they use them for. Participants were asked to bring to the session the device they most commonly use to access the internet. Unsurprisingly all of our young people brought their smartphones with them, with one even bringing a tablet too. Guess that supports our view for mobile first design!

One key take-out from yesterday’s session was simplicity and ease of use, rather than design, were key criteria identified by young people for the site. This will surely impact on the site navigation and look/feel. Another key issue is the potential challenges of accessing the site using mobile data as opposed to Wi-Fi – especially if you don’t have lots of data on your phone contract.

Overall we’re thrilled with our first consultative group and are looking forward to continuing to work with such brilliant, thoughtful and engaged young people – we’ve got a great bunch!

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