How to Design for Late Adopters of Technology
Understanding a different audiencePhoto by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash Did you know that you’re likely among the top 5–8% of computer users worldwide? That probably sounds great, until you realize that you’re designing for the other 95% of computer users. You’ve likely been taught ways to design for some users that are, on average, Early adopters. They may have some technical or educational background, are interested in your business product (which is fairly new), and represent anywhere from 13.5 to 47.5% of users. But what about the rest of that audience? Well, for them, it’s a completely different ballgame. Late adopters of the technology have much different user needs than early adopters, and a different design approach needs to be taken as a result. Late Adopters and the startup problemhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations The term “late adopter’ is something that comes from something called the Diffusion of Innovations theory. Developed by Everett Rogers in 1962, it is a model that highlights how, why, and the rate at which new technology and ideas spread. You might have heard of this because of the front end of the scale. How there’s only a set percentage of innovators, and everyone else follows. Or else, how there’s a critical mass that needs to be reached for a product to be successfully adopted into the mainstream (i.e. mainstream use). But how would you do an initial design for the back end of that scale (Late Majority and Laggards)? In the old system, you probably wouldn’t be: the late majority only reaches a product after several iterations, when the product has been established. But when the next big tech battleground maybe healthcare, a traditionally late adopter of technology, there are going to be additional things to consider. Startups and other companies are starting to target late adopter populations, such as older adults and healthcare as their user base. Everything from wearable technology for older adults to Health Insurance and finding a medical provider are venues that new companies are beginning to pursue. But they’re running into roadblocks because they don’t understand this population. Who exactly might this late adopter population consist of? Well, let me just list off some of the groups that may fall into this category: Older adults, who may not be that tech-savvyPeople with accessibility issues (such as blind users), who need things to not change that much between versionsA majority of healthcare stakeholders (Doctors, Nurses, Patients), who have a risk-averse relationship with technologyPeople in rural areas, who may not have access to the latest cutting edge technologyAdults who make less than 55k a year, and may not be able to afford the latest gadgetsPeople who work in domains that are risk-averse due to the consequences (Healthcare, Aviation, Mental Health, etc.) And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you are targeting a late adopter (or laggard) as one of your core groups, you first need to understand exactly who you are dealing with. Consider their technology skills The Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a study of 215,942 people in 33 countries in 2016 which talked about the average computer skills of people age 16–65 around the world. In that study, it was seen that 26% of the world doesn’t even use computers, with another 29% able to do simple tasks that required little to no navigation (such as “Finding all e-mails from John Smith”). In a follow-up article, the Nielsen-Norman Group stated that for seniors (age 65+), they found that while seniors are increasing their digital literacy, some of the greatest challenges came from small text and targets, interfaces that were…
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