Technology demographics

Paul Boag

For a long time marketers have made use of various demographic scales to classify different types of people. Well now, thanks to research carried out at the University College London it is possible to classify people by their use of technology.

Using information from the most recent UK census and data firm Experian, the researchers at UCL have created 23 "e-types". These 23 e-types are themselves organised into seven broader categories including:

  • E-unengaged
  • E-marginalised
  • Becoming engaged
  • E for entertainment and shopping
  • E-independents
  • Instrumental E-users
  • E-business users
  • E- experts

However, the researchers have gone further than simply creating the 23 e-types. They have mapped those types onto the 1.7 million British postcodes. By entering a postcode on their site, you can see the e-type for that postcode. This provides an incredible granularity down to approximately 17 households!

Unsurprisingly the ability to see the e-type of your individual postcode has created a lot of interest in the press. However, it is not the postcode functionality that particularly excites me. Although knowing the technical literacy of a postcode is interesting, it does not really help me as a web designer. I cannot think of a single site, which I have worked on that is aimed at a specific geographic area.

What I find more interesting is the definition of the e-types. This could prove a very powerful tool for web designers to understand the target audience for a site. Used in conjunction with personas I see this as an excellent way quantify how users will interact with your site.