Ah, Youth: Generational Design Considerations

It’s 5:31 a.m. on Tuesday and I’m about to go wake up my 8-year old son. While tucking him in last night he made me promise to get him up “extra early” this morning so that he could play Minecraft before his older brother and sister wake up and join the virtual realm with him.


It occurs to me that he’ll be on one computer doing things in Minecraft that I have no idea how to do, but that I’ve only watched passively as he and his siblings move through 3-dimensional worlds collecting supplies and interacting with each other (sometimes amicably, sometimes not).

So, while I’ll be furiously pumping out my thoughts on how our retail technology can be improved through a better understanding of user-centered design, I suddenly wonder how relevant my insights (and subsequent designs) will be for members of my children’s generation who are interacting with each other in real time in virtual worlds on a regular basis.

What will their expectations be, and how will the designs I create support or fall short? Will they be bored or engaged when they move from Minecraft to our retail automation environment? I have this idea that I’ll train my 12-year-old to manage our employee break room once I get the reigns on it myself, but now I’m starting to think that he’ll want the system to do things that I can’t foresee because I haven’t adequately accounted for his needs and expectations. Perhaps his insight if/when he takes over break room operations can be in the form of design.

The possibilities for bridging the generational design gap are limitless, but one must make an active, rigorous effort toward these ends if one wants to narrow the chasm.


About burtaycock

Father of 2 great boys, interaction designer, doodler, student of life.
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