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What do teens want?

Ah the neverending quandary! How to develop a site or service for teens without looking like you’re pandering or uncool or worse…
Joyce Valenza’s Neverending Search blog has a good posting.
Here’s most of the posting below but I recommend that you subscribe to the blog since she promises more quality postings like this one!
“The most interesting question I looked at this past week asked the students how their librarian could improve the site. Their responses fell into the following categories and I include the most representative of their quotes. What is most meaningful here is that these students are not merely complaining. They know their websites and appear sincere in their desire for their growth and improvement. They value such things as: access to databases, teacher/librarian-recommended links, documentation advice, and readers’ advisory.
Organization/Navigation (The most responses related to organization): “Some of the links don’t make sense to me.” “Make it easier to get to from home.””It’s too complex.” “Too busy, too much stuff.”
Accessibility: “The website address should be shorter.” “Access to email and AIM.” Teach people how to use it.”
Descriptions/Annotations (Frequently requested!): “Maybe have a synopsis beneath each category to show what it is used for in case we forget.” “Describe what each search tool is best for.” “Clearer labeling.”
Documentation (Clearly an area students needed and cared about): “Make the bibliographic information clearer.” “Easier access to information on citing sources.” “Information about internal citations.”
Images/Aesthetics/Fun/Teen Relevance (Heavy response in this area!): “Make the site more appealing.” “Make it cooler looking.” “It’s boring.” “Jazz it up.” ”Better interface.” “More graphics, more color.” Change the theme more frequently.” “Educational games.” “Flash intro, background music, links to cool bands.” “More sports stuff.” “Cosmo and Jet.” “Don’t make it all work related.” “I want it to say, ‘Welcome [student’s name here] on the opening page.” “Let us sign in and get to GPAs and schedules like colleges do.”
Teacher/Project Links (They get our connections and partnerships): “Direct links to teachers’ sites.” “More of what the teachers go over in class to make sure we understand.”
Passwords (Clearly the students are unhappy with password situations!): “Easier access from home.” “An easier way to find the passwords.” “Find some way to post passwords to subscription services so we can actually use them from home.” “Easier passwords.”
Missing Content: Students wanted the following and much more: world news/current events, more booklists, more details for English and social studies, easy links to online reference, college stuff, career stuff, government and economics, more support for research papers. “Since I am hispanic, I would like there to be some hispanic history in all of this.”
Databases (They valued these!): “Greater variety of databases.” “More programs like Gale.” “More contemporary databases.” Databases with scanned in books.” “More subscriptions.”
Book stuff (A surprising number of responses requested more resources relating to books.): “Include the reading suggestion lists in the library on the page.” “Organized book lists by genre or author.” Link to the OPAC.” “Book of the month, trivia on books?”
Filters and Blocking (They had a lot to say here!): “Let us check email.” (Email was the biggest issue!) ”Make sure information isn’t blocked by big brother; we can actually learn without the censors.” “Have less banned websites because it makes it agrivating when you think you’ve found a good website for research and then you can’t read it because its blocked.” “Stop blocking picture searches because students need all sorts of pictures for different projects and it is hard to get them if all of the sites and searches are blocked.” “Too many restrictions as to which sites can be visited and such. Stop blocking all the sites!” I notice that when anything like, horoscopes, modern practice of magic, or homosexualtiy is being researched, there are limited resources, but that is only because our school system is biased. Let us search for fun things.””
Cool stuff, eh?

Posted on: January 4, 2006, 7:16 pm Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Caitlin R.P Slattery said

    Well, darling, kudos to you for even asking. Sometimes, you’d be surprised at how much kids know about what they need. You ought listen to a teenager sometime, it’s very enlightening, because, since we are young, we have all the world to experience, and all the words to say about it.