Digital designers: you’re overestimating your users

There’s a really good post by the folks at NN Group regarding an OECD survey on basic computer skills in the general population of member countries.

The take-away: most users struggle with basic functionality of common software and almost no-one is a power user. People who make User Experience (UX) decisions probably overestimate users’ skills due to a bubble effect (i.e. they hang out with other computer savvy folks)

Excerpts:

In total, 215,942 people [ages 26-25] were tested, with at least 5,000 participants in most [of 33] countries. 

The researchers defined 4 levels of proficiency, based on the types of tasks users can complete successfully. 

“Below Level 1” = 14% of Adult Population

An example of task at this level is “Delete this email message” in an email app.

Level 1 = 29% of Adult Population

An example of level-1 task is “Find all emails from John Smith.”

Level 2 = 26% of Adult Population

An example of level-2 task is “You want to find a sustainability-related document that was sent to you by John Smith in October last year.”

Level 3 = 5% of Adult Population

An example of level-3 task is “You want to know what percentage of the emails sent by John Smith last month were about sustainability.”

Can’t Use Computers = 26% of Adult Population

In total, across the OECD countries, 26% of adults were unable to use a computer.

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