Monday, January 31, 2005

How teens use the web

Jakob Nielsen's most recent usability alertbox focuses on how teens use the internet. It would make excellent reading for all who design recruitment websites targetting this group.

His recommendations include:
What's good? The following interactive features all worked well because they let teens do things rather than simply sit and read:
• Online quizzes
• Forms for providing feedback or asking questions
• Online voting
• Games
• Features for sharing pictures or stories
• Message boards
• Forums for offering and receiving advice
• Features for creating a website or otherwise adding content

Whist maybe not all of these are appropriate (remember they go to you because they are interested in a job, not for interactive features about not related topics) some of them certainly are.

In one firm we implemented message boards staffed by a young intern. It was both hugely popular but also dramatically reduced our support costs. We could get back to everyone within our ambitious 1 working day service aim (often much quicker) and we didn't have to answer the same questions over and over again. What's more we were given a free 'improve your website' tool - if they ask the question the chances are they can't find the answer.

A second instance we used a game (well a competition) to increase awareness in a particular activity the company did (very well) but wasn't known for. The multiple choice competition asked 5 simple questions, the answers being available on the public corporate website. We built a great database and what had historically always been a trouble area became oversubscribed overnight.

These techniques can be effectively translated to recruitment sites. The trick is understanding the behaviours and how you can use this to your advantage.