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. 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 Millennials.
Background on Millennials
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, experienced an upbringing unlike any other in history. The oldest Millennials spent their childhoods in a pre-Digital world, but this generation was quickly characterized by the rise of the internet, the dot com boom, and the surge of technological advancements that came along with it. Also called “digital natives,” Millennials have been fundamentally shaped by technology regarding how they learn, work, socialize, buy, communicate, and play. The internet became the trusted authority for learning and information and is crucial to how Millennials approach solving problems. This sudden disruption has caused a disconnect between Millennials and previous generations.
Millennials & 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 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.
Millennials have integrated technology into almost every facet of their lives, but recognize their limits. They make a conscious effort to spend time away from their phone. In a world that capitalizes on every minute you spend within a platform, a digital product can spark loyalty by showing Millennial users it complements or adds to their quality of life.
Let’s consider a few ways that companies are incorporating Millennials’ desire to have control over their time and digital energy.
Instagram users can monitor the time spent looking at their feed. A chart breaks down daily usage and lets users set a daily reminder or time limit before receiving a notification from the app. Android and Apple have similar system settings abilities that encourage digital time-outs.
Dating app Hinge targets a Millennial audience—even more specifically, an audience who wants to find someone special and settle down (unlike Tinder). In its recent “Designed to be Deleted” campaign, its tone of voice is optimistic—sending its dating pool the message that they ultimately want you off the app and in a relationship.
Consider some of the small design and messaging considerations Hinge implemented in their successful dating app to drive the message home:
- Illustrated characters and animations that erase UI elements
- Use of casual, optimistic tone of voice
- Friendly color palettes, round UI elements
- App-icon characters that emphasize the “deleting” message
Access vs. Ownership
Millennials kicked off their adult life at the start of the Great Recession. In contrast to their baby boomer parents—Millennials aren’t looking to have a vacation house by age 40. They might not own homes at all. Millennials prioritize personal and professional growth as keystones of success. This group is trying to maximize time and resources to live a full, healthy, happy life—using technology along the way. Millennials are getting married later, renting longer, and have been a pivotal part of creating the gig and share economies.
To Millennials, access is often better than ownership. The flexibility and breadth of experiences offered by on-demand apps like Spotify, Lyft, Netflix, Rent the Runway, and countless other products have permanently rewired Millennials' expectations and preferences.
Concluding Thoughts on Designing for Millennials
These ideas can give you a sense of the necessary nuance required in designing apps for a Millennial audience. Taking their needs and preferences into account when developing a product can significantly broaden your market potential.
Many digital products can potentially be solutions for users spanning multiple generations, so there is much to consider. In addition to our free guide, Designing Digital Products for Every Generation, we’ve highlighted key takeaways on designing digital products for Gen Alpha, Gen Z, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and for all.
If you have questions or concerns about designing for Millennials—or any other generation—we would be happy to consult with you free of charge. Get in touch with us today!
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Business & Strategy
Many founders and entrepreneurs start their business because they have an itch to solve a problem, but they reach a point along the way where they’re at a turning point. This is where most businesses fail unless they turn the corner. Every leader goes through humbling moments. These are the learnings that host Kendra Prospero unearths by interviewing seasoned leaders on the How I Turned the Corner Podcast. Brad Weber, CEO and President of InspiringApps, joined the podcast to discuss turning the corner on employee turnover. Employee turnover is an important and often overlooked aspect of running a business, especially in competitive industries like tech. And every time there’s turnover, there’s cost—even in the best scenarios. In an inspiring discussion with Kendra, Brad shares his unique approach to keeping employees happy and turnover low. Watch the Full Interview Quote From the Interview “Foundational for us is definitely respect and support for one another on our team. And that goes a surprisingly long way. And it’s also not as common as I would have thought that it is, but that’s really important to us. Everybody on the team is absolutely respected for their contribution, and we want to help them grow in the ways that make sense for them—whether that’s technically or or to pick up non-technical skills that are important to them. We do all of that over the course of their career at InspiringApps.” —Brad Weber About Kendra Prospero Kendra Prospero is the CEO and Founder of Turning the Corner, LLC. For over a decade, Kendra’s career has been all about creating healthier and more rewarding work environments. She helps people connect to work they love, while transforming workplace culture to retain top talent, increase productivity, and build confident leaders. She has served hundreds of clients in revamping their corporate cultures, revitalizing their recruiting and helping them retain their people. Her clients include Google, Infusionsoft, Ricoh USA, Project Management Institute, Galvanize, Boomtown, SurveyGizmo, and SHRM Colorado. About Brad Weber Brad Weber has more than 25 years of software development experience. Brad received his MBA from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado and spent several years with Accenture before striking off on his own adventures, including the successful founding of four different technology companies. With a passion for software artisanship, Brad founded InspiringApps to build a team that could tackle larger app development challenges than he was able to handle on his own. His leadership creates an environment where the most innovative digital products continue to come to life. About InspiringApps App development that makes an impact. InspiringApps builds digital products that help companies impact their employees, customers, and communities. Yes, we build web, mobile, and custom apps, but what we offer is something above and beyond that. What we offer is inspiration. Our award-winning work has included 200+ apps since the dawn of the iPhone. Our core values: integrity, respect, commitment, inclusivity, and empathy. Our guarantee: finish line, every time, for every project. Get in touch at hello@InspiringApps.com. Say Hello on Social LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/inspiringapps/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InspiringApps Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inspiringapps/
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The possibilities are endless when it comes to Gen Alpha. As the most diverse generation, they are forward-thinking and brilliant innovators. Gen Alphas were born into a hyper-technological and entrepreneurial world, making them the most globally connected generation ever. This demographic has tremendous earning potential and will have the highest spending power in history. Technology is a part of daily life. Thus, Gen Alphas prioritize authentic connection and meaningful causes. 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 regarding technology. As you develop products aimed at this generation, understanding these values can provide insights to consider when designing for Gen Alpha. Gen Alpha Background If you can bet on any generation making big waves, it’s Generation Alpha. Born in the 21st century from 2010-2025, they’re the largest generation and most likely to live the longest. Gen Alphas are also predicted to be the most educated and wealthiest generation of all time. Born into a global pandemic, this generation has become increasingly immersed in technology and digital experiences. As a result, Gen Alphas seek authentic communication and connection more than ever. Unlike their Millennial parents, Gen Alphas frequent platforms like TikTok, Instagram Live, Houseparty, Clubhouse, and similar platforms. AI is part of their daily lives, and they frequently use technologies like Siri and Alexa (among others) from an early age. Due to shorter attention spans in our increasingly digitalized world, short, easily digestible content is imperative. Creativity and innovation are common themes among this brilliant and up-and-coming generation. This demographic has a tremendous amount of earning potential. They like to think out of the box, are incredibly technologically savvy, and value the importance of social causes. They tend to place a high value on climate change and inclusivity. Gen Alpha is a passionate group that desires to help others and improve the world around them. Gen Alpha & Technology Generation Alpha is immersed in a world of technology. According to McCrindle, Gen Alpha has more screen time than previous generations. The pandemic has only intensified technology use. With few places to go, Gen Alpha kids turned to their screens to combat their inner loneliness. One must design with authentic influence to bridge the gap between digital technology and the human experience. Gen Alpha is tired of the manufactured experience and is looking for a genuine connection that speaks to them personally. They tend to have short attention spans and are interested in fast-paced, easily-consumable media content. Due to the plethora of information available to this modern generation, Gen Alpha believes strongly in the power of data and is greatly influenced by it. Gen Alphas are enthusiastic about documenting and sharing their own content and like interacting with others digitally. Influencers can profoundly impact their purchasing decisions. Gen Alphas want customizable, meaningful digital experiences that bring them value and uplift their daily life. Considerations When Designing for Gen Alpha Authentic Influence Niche content creators greatly influence Generation Alpha. That said, this generation is bombarded with influencers and advertisements. We can expect Gen Alpha to distrust brands that seem phony or don’t have their best interests at heart. Similarly, they will likely reject traditional forms of marketing much as their Millennial parents did. Authentic influence is critical for gaining the trust of Generation Alpha. Gen Alphas are looking for genuine connections with brands that align with their values. Raw, real-life experiences, humanized messaging, and value-based technology will be best received best by Gen Alphas. In short—less curated experiences and more authenticity. Having concentrated human-centric features will dramatically shape the Gen Alpha’s user experience. Return on User Experience Gen Alphas invest in experiences that enrich their lives and, in turn, have high expectations for all elements of their experience. The level of transparency of taking the customer on the journey from start to finish will significantly benefit this generation. They want an immersive experience with the entire process demonstrated to them, not just a cherry-picked, glamorous experience. Leveraging interactive marketing tactics such as user-generated content allows the user to be part of an experience. Here’s a formula to constantly improve a Gen Alpha’s user experience: 1. Observe. Develop a thorough understanding of your customer journeys and pinpoint what matters most to them along the way. 2. Evaluate. Collect operational data and derive meaningful results with a key performance indicator framework. 3. Act. Use those insights to improve your app to fit the user’s preferences and desires. A rule-based action engine can help expedite and automate the process. Connected to Social Issues Generation Alpha cares deeply about social issues. Causes like climate change, diversity and inclusion, fair representation, acceptance, and sustainability will be at the forefront of their value system. They’ll be seeking out brands and technologies that combat social issues. With that in mind, be transparent about your mission, impact, and what you do to solve it. Brands looking to engage with this audience must embody and foster inclusive and accepting environments. As the most diverse generation, brands can build trust by representing their consumers authentically. Here are some questions to consider when designing for Gen Alpha: What are the demographic and psychographics of the country? How can you reduce our imprint on the environment and create a more sustainable solution? Where are there additional opportunities for broader representation? Concluding Thoughts on Designing for Gen Alpha Taking Gen Alphas’ background, needs, and technological preferences into account will help broaden your app’s reach and market potential. Many digital products can potentially be solutions for users spanning multiple generations, so there is much to consider. In addition to our free guide, Designing Digital Products for Every Generation, we’ve highlighted key takeaways on designing digital products for Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and for all. If you have questions or concerns about designing for Gen Alpha—or any other generation—we would be happy to consult with you free of charge. Get in touch with us today!
9 days ago