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For a website or digital product to be truly ‘user-centric’, we need to determine who the ‘user’ is.
Each person will approach a website, system or app through their own, unique mental model, applying how they think it will be organised to each new one they encounter.
Although each individual’s mental model is unique, users can be ‘grouped’ to determine their digital (dis)abilities.
Generations share key aspects of their mental models, as people who live in the same period are influenced by societal values and culture, the emergence of new technologies, and experience similar events to some degree.
Similarly, they share age-related elements, such as physical or cognitive (dis)abilities.
For digital marketers, understanding the audience a platform offers access to is crucial. After all, if you don't know who you will be reaching, it's all but impossible to craft messages and experiences that resonate.
The good news: digital channels are generally understood far better than their offline counterparts because users can be tracked far more comprehensively and accurately. The bad news: the make-up of digital channels can change, and sometimes quite rapidly. This is particularly true in social channels, where what's hot today is not hot tomorrow.
If you work in a digital industry, the ubiquity of the internet is practically taken for granted. But that doesn't mean that the percentage of consumers accessing the internet on a regular basis isn't impressive. And it doesn't mean that percentage isn't growing.
In fact, according to Forrester Research, the number of adults in the United States who access the internet on a daily basis is growing more than one might imagine.
To join or not to join. When it comes to new social sites, that is the question brands must ask themselves.
While social networks like Facebook and Twitter continue to be dominant, services like Pinterest and Instagram are attracting more and more individuals. Even Google's social network, Google+, which many were skeptical about, has managed to grow into a respectable channel with more than 100m active monthly users.
While men in the U.K. may have a special place in their hearts for Pinterest, the third most popular social network in the United States is widely considered to be a hangout for women.
Brands seem to be on board with this notion. The US Army, for instance, turned to Pinterest when it wanted to reach a female audience online.
While Pinterest is more popular with men in the UK, in the United States, Pinterest is most popular with women.
That, you might think, would make it a pretty unlikely target for the US Army's social media team, but that's not the case. In fact, Pinterest is of great interest to the US Army precisely because of its demographic makeup.
If the future of the internet is social, as some believe, the long-term fate of the world's largest search engine could rest on how well its social network, Google+ does.
While it has a long way to go before it catches up to Facebook in popularity and adoption, with over 100m users, it would appear that Google is off to a decent start.
Whether you're male or female, there's an almost equal chance that you own a smartphone. But what about tablets and e-readers? Do men and women share different preferences when it comes to the latest and greatest mobile devices?
According to Nielsen's latest survey of mobile device owners, the answer is increasingly 'yes.' In Q2 2011, it found that 61% of e-readers were owned by women, up from 46% in the third quarter of 2010. Tablets? Almost the opposite: 57% of them are owned by men.
The success of Android in the mobile market may be one of Google's biggest accomplishments outside of search, and it may be crucial to the company's long-term success generally.
But when it comes to ecosystems, Android still lags well behind Apple, which has built the mother of all ecosystems around iOS.
The question for Google: why is that?
Are demographics dead? Will marketers eventually buy most if not all media inventory, including television inventory, on performance-based models instead?
Executives from agency Initiative think so.
Arguably the most importance facet of the growth of social media and increasing personalisation of the web has been the resultant growth of the online audience.
Thanks to the increasing sophistication of both technology and user interfaces, it is significantly changing the nature of how audiences react online, not just in the younger generation, but also older users.
Facebook has built the internet's largest ever social network, and on the back of that, a multi-billion dollar business.
Not surprisingly, a big part of that business is advertising. Much like Google before it, Facebook serves as a gateway to millions upon millions of consumers. On volume alone, Facebook makes a mint.