Common Human Needs According to Age (most likely to show up)

A list of common needs to challenge and inspire designers, developers, and problem solvers.

Small business selling fruit in Lagos. Photo by Mary on Unsplash

Someone once said you don’t need to have all the money in the world to impact people’s lives. You only need to meet them at the point of their need.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how Tunde Onakoya’s idea for using chess to impact and change the lives of underprivileged children is a fantastic way of using one’s skills to achieve positive impact in one’s community.

I thought of this as not only a great example of a give-back idea that doesn't just throw money at the problem, but also a great example of how human problems can be found, and solved, which is a great part of user experience design (UX Design). So I started thinking of more unconventional give-back ideas and ways people apply and donate their skills to help others.

One way I’ve found that can help to align your needs and the needs you want to solve for is by understanding what’s in your toolbox, and then working from what people need to what you want to solve for.

In Tunde’s case, he was clear about his love for chess and understood how to apply himself to children whose needs he also understood — children needing stability, security, and who also needed to feel loved and cared for.

There are many problems in the world and it is easy to get overwhelmed by them. However, limiting or applying constraints is great to help you start what you can by not only thinking about what the problem is, but thinking about what people need in that situation and what you have to give.

So, I created this list of needs of people based on their age range and what they most likely would struggle with at respective points in our lives.

How to use this list:

I decided to make this list while giving room for imagination and giving space for you to apply your unique gifts and skills.

The list below lists common needs on a high level and with the age in mind, we can come up with various specific needs that people require and may not be able to achieve for themselves. Some needs are repeated across age ranges, and some which may apply to other age ranges may not be as prominent at that time. Ultimately, the list is yours to tweak as you wish.

To start:

First, write a list of things to love to do or have done over a long period of time (that you would like to continue doing). It could be baking cakes, writing, video games, debating, reading novels, etc. The more specific, the better.

Once you have that ready, pick a point below that resonates with you. To develop each point, use the formula below:

A person of Age range experiencing List item needs problems to solve.
I/We can provide list of solutions.

For example,

A person of 0–5 years old experiencing a need for comfort needs to not feel hungry. I can provide:

  • discounts on baby food items.
  • discounts for breastfeeding mums.
  • relieve stress for breastfeding mums.
  • donate baby food items.
  • build apps that enable people to randomly gift baby food items.

If writing is something you have written down as what you love to do, your suggestions can be more specific:

  • blog posts on baby food items and prices
  • how to posts for challenges with feeding babies
  • social media content sharing knowledge on breastfeeding

This one-liner can be made even more specific by adding filters such as location, gender, etc. This specificity can help to tailor the ideas and solutions you come up with. For example:

A person of 0–5 years old living in Yaba, Lagos experiencing a need for comfort needs to not feel hungry. I can provide ___.

However, a skill like video gaming may not apply so well to this age range. At the end of the day, you decide what fits the most for you.

In the world of user experience design (UX), this would be a form of a user story. A user story is essentially a one-liner that summarises the needs of the person or audience whose problems you want to solve into one sentence.

It helps to gain clarity on who exactly to focus on and also helps to differentiate your needs from the needs of those whose needs you want to address. Since this list is not exhaustive, feel free to leave your suggestions and contributions.

0–5

  • Need for Comfort
  • Need for Security
  • Novelty
  • Body Growth

6–10

  • Imagination
  • Play
  • Exploration
  • First School
  • Understanding of Immediate Environments

11–16

  • Peer Pressure
  • Making Friends
  • Schoolwork
  • Understanding of Responsibility
  • Understanding of Status/Class
  • Understanding of Gender Expectations
  • First Romantic Interests
  • Breaking off from Dependence
  • School examinations
  • First Negative Addictive Behaviours

17–21

  • Personal Identity
  • Independent Thinking
  • More Responsibility for Self
  • First Romantic Interests
  • Understanding of Status/Class
  • Understanding of Gender Expectations
  • Schoolwork
  • Supporting Job
  • Dating
  • First Negative Addictive Behaviours

22–29

  • Socialising
  • Need for Job Security
  • Start of Career
  • Desire for Life Partner
  • Need for Financial Security
  • Independence
  • Dating
  • First marriage
  • First time Parent
  • Job Hunt
  • Career Decisions/Constraints/Challenges
  • Negative/Addictive Behaviourial Patterns

30–35

  • Asset Growth & Portfolio Management
  • Desire for Quality Relationships
  • Independence
  • First time Parent
  • Dating
  • Job Stress
  • Financial responsibilities
  • Homebuilding responsibilities
  • Family responsibilities
  • Quality Network
  • Loneliness
  • Independence
  • Travel & Vacations
  • Change in Location

36–40

  • Seeking Stability
  • A Full House
  • Family & Long-term relationship responsibilities
  • Job Security
  • Career growth & Promotions
  • Growing Children
  • Financial responsibilities
  • Homebuilding responsibilities
  • Family responsibilities
  • Quality Network
  • Loneliness

41–49

  • Need for Recognition
  • Negative addictive behaviours
  • Course correction or Pivots in career or marriage
  • Teen Children
  • Financial obligations and responsibilities
  • Ageing Parents

50–60

  • Aged Parents
  • Need for Recognition
  • Health responsibilities
  • Empty nest
  • Retirement plans
  • Life Inventory & Reflections
  • College/University Children

61–70

  • Health responsibility
  • Need for Recognition
  • Working children
  • Grandchildren
  • Empty home
  • Reduced circle or community
  • Difficulty adapting to new tech
  • Freed time
  • Life inventory

71–80

  • Insecurity about living conditions
  • Health conditions
  • Wealth of knowledge
  • Reduced interaction with others
  • Apportioning of assets
  • Grandchildren
  • Free time
  • Life Inventory

81–90

  • Need for Living Assistance (human + tech)
  • Grandchildren
  • Family history
  • Crystallised knowledge
  • Life inventory
  • Health conditions

91–100

  • Need for Living Assistance
  • Need for Comfort
  • Need for Security
  • Need for Family & Community
  • Health Conditions

101 >

  • Need for Living Assistance
  • Need for Comfort
  • Need for Security
  • Need for Family & Community
  • Health Conditions

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you find these helpful.

If you decide to create something cool, don’t hesitate share it with the world. :)

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Adaku Nwakanma

Adaku Nwakanma

I write about digital product design.