Designing for Gen Z

2 months ago
Designing for Gen Z Image

Designing for Gen Z

Generation Z is a powerful group in today’s world. They’ve entered the workforce and are likely to continue to shake the status quo. This group has incredible spending power and the determination to make a difference and affect change. Tech is a seamless part of their life, and they’re open to transparent and effective digital products that fit into their lives intuitively, as well.

In a previous post, Designing Apps for Different Generations, we looked broadly at how your generation influences your relationship to technology throughout your lifetime. Each generation has shared experiences during their formative years that help to shape collective values. These values, in turn, influence motivations, preferences, and expectations when it comes to technology. As you develop products aimed at this generation, understanding these values can provide insights to consider when designing for Gen Z.

Gen Z Background

All eyes are on Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012. Just like the generations before them, they’re in the life stage of self-discovery. Since this generation’s youth, Gen Z parents have been navigating the rise of tech, social media, and online privacy issues–for Gen Z, discovering their true selves is no easy task. 

Gen Z has proven to be catalyzed citizens who want to make a difference. Their innate understanding of the power of social media and their regular consumption of news and information–often as it happens– has allowed Gen Z to move past the era of Millennial armchair activism. While navigating  life in today’s world, Gen Z confidently prioritizes experiences over objects.

Gen Z and Technology

Born into tech, Gen Z uses their problem-solving skills to navigate life in today’s world confidently. Gen Z resists the Millennial-curated Instagram feed and instead shows their followers a more spontaneous and authentic persona that makes no distinction between their online and real life. They appreciate self-made stars and creative transparency, practiced by the many influencers they follow (and want to be).

They are speaking out, using their digital reach to influence national conversations from pop culture to politics. With tech at their disposal, they have opportunities to learn virtually anything at their fingertips1, leading to content creation and early entrepreneurship. They’re skipping college to jump right into the “real world.”

Considerations when designing for Gen Z

We’ve identified four key considerations to keep in mind when designing digital products for Gen Z with this information in mind.

Prioritize a Smooth User Experience

The easiest way to encourage the use of and user retention for your app is by providing users with a smoother user experience. This is certainly a recommendation for all audiences but is critical for apps aimed at younger generations.

If Gen Z users detect any glitches,  hang-ups, or stickiness within a digital product, there’s a good chance they’ll look for a better solution. Build your app with swift and straightforward interactions and don’t reinvent the wheel for every feature within your product–draw inspiration from apps that are already working. By sticking with best practices, standard features, and anticipating your users’ desires, your users will navigate more intuitively and stick around for more.

Make it visual

Younger audiences aren’t interested in sifting through different kinds of content. Video content is more straightforward for them to navigate, and they tend to absorb it quicker than reading.

When creating a video for Gen Z, there are a few essential must-haves:

  • Creative, short-form video is the way to get Gen Z to love your brand – but attention spans are short. Use catchy, hyper-relevant content to grab the user’s attention within the first 3 seconds or risk losing it altogether.
  • Use content that can be consumed with the sound-off by employing captions and visual storytelling. This is a recommendation for all users, although it is also best practice in regards to accessibility. Reconsider the use of any content where sound is a must.
  • Consider the video’s platform when you create video content. When designing for Gen Z, this means using vertical video fit for Instagram reels, Tik Tok, and Snapchat.

Help to Express Authenticity & Individuality

Gen Z values authenticity in the brands they love, and they infuse it into their feeds as well. Gen Zers are conscious of their “personal brand”–the aesthetic representing their personality and interests. Thanks to the accessibility of digital video tools, Everyone is a content creator, and they use these digital tools to curate how the world sees them.

Questions to ask when considering your Gen Z audience’s desire to be real: 

  • Does your product take into consideration the highly visual nature of Gen Z?
  • Does your digital product provide tools for content creation?
  • Does your app offer anything for them to share and a way to do so quickly?
  • Is there an opportunity to utilize user-generated content?
  • Is there an opportunity to be more transparent? To provide behind-the-scenes details?
  • Does Gen Z relate to this content?

Concluding thoughts on designing for Gen Z

These ideas can give you a sense of the necessary nuance in designing apps aimed at Gen Z. By taking their needs and preferences into account while developing a product, you can significantly broaden your app’s market potential.

Many digital products have the potential to be solutions for users spanning multiple generations. Check out our background articles on designing digital products for Millennials, Gen X & Baby Boomers, or learn more about designing for all.

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Designing for Millennials

Millennials are currently the largest generational cohort in the United States, making up more than 30% of America’s workforce. The generation dubbed the “me me me generation” by Time Magazine, who lived through two financial crises and a horrific live terror attack, have now settled down, found successful careers, and have immense buying power — an estimated $4 trillion in 2020 alone. Millennials are fiercely loyal to brands they love, are willing to pay more for well-made products, and love to buy online. Designing for Millennials should be a top consideration for companies bringing products to market today. In a previous post, Designing Apps for Different Generations, we looked broadly at how your generation influences your relationship to technology throughout your lifetime. Each generation has shared experiences during their formative years that help to shape collective values. 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Millennials and Technology Millennials are a highly tech-savvy group dependent on tech in many facets of their lives. This demographic is the first group to be connected to their peers and leverage their social media networks for many purposes. Social media helps them stay in touch, join with brands and companies, access news, ask for peer recommendations, and even connect to job opportunities, to name only a few. They value their lifestyles and relationships first and make life and career decisions based on those factors. When it comes to communication, Millennials prefer text messaging or direct messages over a phone call. In the workplace, platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams allow teams to connect and collaborate remotely and in real-time, giving Millennials the work/life balance they desire.  Generally, Millennials are more open-minded and civic-oriented than previous generations thanks to access to diverse worldviews on their Internet browser. Collectively, this group wants to have an impact and contribute to the greater good— 70% of Millennials volunteer regularly. Digital Products for Millennials This generation has grown up with the internet at their disposal, and they expect transparency from companies and their products. They know quickly if something is providing value, and if they’re not sure, they’ve created a system of accountability through ratings, reviews, and online forums that will tell them. When Millennials reached a prime spending age, there was a shift in the way that Millennials spent their money compared to previous generations. Millennials place a high value on experiences over things, which led them to leverage technology to fuel the experience economy. In short - Millennials are ditching the fast cars and expensive purses their parents purchased upon adulthood, preferring to spend money on concerts, events, travel and more. Digital products would do well to recognize their desire for connection, fun and flexibility and provide a solution that enhances their real life. Considerations when designing for Millennials When it comes to designing digital products and content for Millennials, keep these four considerations in mind: Speak their language Speaking the Millennial language is both a messaging and experience consideration. Consider Byte, an at-home teeth straightening system similar to Invisalign, which originated in the mid-90s. Byte has identified Millennials as their target audience, and makes it clear through their messaging. Clever copywriting hits on the Millennial desire to work from home and customize their experience, even backing it up with a review that hits on Millennial-beloved products and pop culture. In addition, a digital product can define its user experience so it effectively communicates to the right audience. Millennials have been through the full evolution of digital experiences, so they instinctively recognize and act upon smooth interactions. With a single gesture, they’ll be quick to close an app or ditch a digital cart if they start to sense a stickiness in the product or in the offerings themselves. A company that wishes to speak the Millennial language needs to deliver upon the digital interactions they’ve come to expect. Instant and transparent communication with your user is key – like delivering an automated email after purchase. Companies wanting to encourage brand loyalty can go a step further in creating digital moments of delight that will stick with Millennials: free or two-day shipping, reward programs, loyalty points, free flights and personal assistance are examples of the personalized shopping experience millennials seek. Tech Aversion Millennials have integrated technology into almost every facet of their lives, but recognize their limits. 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2 months ago

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