Who are you designing for ... next?

On Friday of last week, we went up to Vermont, to get my step-son settled in his college dorm. He's 18, and his expectations of the world and his place in it are different from ours. He and his brother (who is 16) prefer to SMS their dad, as their primary form of communication. We gave him an iPad for his high school graduation, and I think he was happier than had we given him a car.

Patrick is part of a generation sometimes referred to as "Millennials" or "digital natives". But earlier this week, those differences were really brought home to me, as I read this article in the morning Boston Globe: College freshmen never knew a world without the Net. The article talks about their prior knowledge and experience as a generation -- for example, that LBJ will be interpreted by a college freshman as LeBron James, not Lindon B. Johnson.

We as UX practitioners know that mental models and metaphor are built on exactly that: prior knowledge and experience. So as we build products and services going forward, we need to understand that this generation's expectations are different from ours, and learn how to adapt what we are designing to their changing needs. Fortunately, Beloit University has been watching, and taking notes. They have been making a list: a mindset list. Now, I won't encourage you to read the mindset list for the class of 2015, but I will dare you ... I dare you to read it and not feel old ;)

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I am a Senior Principal User Researcher in Oracle's Middleware division. Essentially, I work with users, customers, and consumers, to try to make the software we create easier for you to use.

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