How do you design interactive spaces for people who have never even used a computer before? Thus is the dilemna of designing for the AOL member. As designers with a lot of experience and a lot of net/computer saavy, what skills, techniques and strategies need to be used to remove oneself from the equation and to design for someone with no skills and computer saavy.

I have been thinking about this all week while in Virginia visiting the AOL headquarters. This particular problem hammers home the principles that you (the designer) is not a user and that testing and designing with users in a true user centered design process are especially important and necessary for success.

Many of us, on the web, dismiss the AOL user, but they are out there, growing in number and lessening in experience as the age of early adoption has passed, and they are accessing the web. How does this knowledge effect us? How does it change the way we design? Should it?

How many of us look at our work through AOL or MSN where the experience and navigation is presented within the context of another experience and set of navigation principles? It changes your perception and complicates the tasks for the end user. What is the reality and what is the on the edges? It reminds me of a couple of years ago when people were experimenting with framesets but hadn't mastered them yet - so you would have a new site - complete with its context and navigation, appearing within another site with its outer navigation within the browser with its set of tools. Confusing at best - impossible for someone who didn't realize what was going on.

Just some food for thought on a beautiful saturday morning.

posted by erin malone 11:16 AM