Youth as Design Partners: Age-Appropriate Websites for Middle and High School Students

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Anthony Shong-Yu Chow, Associate Professor (Creator)
Kathelene McCarty Smith, Assistant Professor and Instruction and Outreach Archivist (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: This study explored the impact of using best practices identified in previous studies in designing age-appropriate websites for middle and high school youth. Utilizing a mixed-method approach, 31 middle and 22 high school youth took part in six focus groups across four states. Participants were introduced to a website specifically designed for either middle or high school youth, asked to discuss their overall opinions of content and interface design, and then asked to rate their overall first impressions of the site. Satisfaction ratings for both groups increased for each design iteration (high school from 6.2 to 8.0; middle school from 6.7 to 8.25) and the results validate previous findings that unique differences exist between middle and high school user preferences. ChiSquare tests (p=.05) suggest middle school website ratings increased significantly while high school website ratings, which improved, remained inconclusive. The implications of the study include a youth website design checklist for both middle and high school youth and the introduction of a new construct, concept actualization, which reflects the need for designers to shift from adult to youth oriented paradigms when designing digital environments through close collaboration between adult and youth designers.

Additional Information

Educational Technology & Society, 15(4), 89–103.
Language: English
Date: 2012
Age-appropriate web design, Youth information seeking, Youth digital environments, Web design, Iterative design

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