Designing Apps for Different Generations

1 year ago
Designing Apps for Different Generations Image

The generation in which we were born influences many things in our lives, including our relationship with technology. As a result, it’s valuable to consider generational demographics as you design and develop your app.

We’ve written before about market considerations for app development, noting the importance of defining your product vision and objectives prior to launching into any technical work. One of the most critical items to pinpoint is your target user—the person for whom your app solves a problem or meets a need.

The work to understand a target user is typically called customer segmentation. Customer segmentation is a strategic process of identifying a narrowed customer base with similar differentiators—demographic, geographic, behavioral, etc. The process not only helps your marketing efforts but also allows you to better understand the behaviors and expectations your customers will have when using your product.

In this post, we are exploring a key demographic factor almost any project will want to consider: age. Currently, the market landscape is primarily made up of four generations with wildly different backgrounds and experiences in technology. Not surprisingly, each one has different motivations, preferences, and expectations when it comes to using technology. We've written a free guide on How to Design Digital Products for Every Generation. In this article, we'll highlight a few key background and behaviors factors to consider when creating an app for each generation.

The Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Baby Boomers, currently 55-73 years old, have personally witnessed a remarkable evolution of technology—TVs became common in homes only shortly after many of them were born. A defining experience for the Baby Boomer generation was the Vietnam War years, which caused this group to collectively value human rights and individual freedom like never before. Privacy and security concerns remain paramount when it comes to technology, and they are hesitant to give out personal information. This generation grew up having to leave the house to find entertainment and social interaction, and they highly value community as a result.

While Boomers still prefer to communicate face-to-face or with a telephone call, they’ve certainly adapted to the technology younger generations are using—utilizing smartphones, texting, online shopping, and social media to achieve their goals. In fact, a 2017 report from KPMG found that Baby Boomers shopped online just as frequently as Millennials, and actually outspent them, as they tend to buy items at a higher price point. While younger generations are leaving Facebook in favor of other social platforms—often quipping “Facebook is for old people”—Baby Boomers continue to increase in numbers and engagement on the platform. A study by Fractl showed that Baby Boomers are 19% more likely than other groups to share content on Facebook daily.

Designing Apps for the Baby Boomer Generation

There are several takeaways to consider when designing and developing products targeted at the Baby Boomer generation. While the demographic is certainly open to new technology, they need a straightforward user experience that won’t cause them to stumble when first using the app. Employing well-known interactions and common UI elements will allow them to connect intuitively with your digital product, and increase your chances of retention.

Additionally, products that provide transparency when it comes to how they’re collecting and using data will go a long way with Boomers. These users are currently concerned with housing, medical support, security, independence, and quality of life and are responsive to products that can offer them value in these areas. They’re aging gracefully, and looking for products that help them to personalize their experience when it comes to their diet, fitness, and lifestyle options.

In this article, we identify additional key considerations to keep in mind when designing apps for Baby Boomers.

Gen X (Born 1965-1976)

Generation X, currently 39-54 years old, spans the smallest number of years. While this generation can at times be overlooked, there are many reasons that make this age group crucial to the digital product landscape. This generation holds the greatest spending power at this point in time, as they are both raising Gen Z children and taking care of Baby Boomer parents. Many Gen Xers find themselves within the busiest period of their lives—beyond family considerations, they are hitting the peak of their careers and making the investments that will serve them long-term.

Generation X grew up in the midst of Watergate, the Reagan era, the end of the Cold War, and directly before the rise of computers and the explosion of internet technology. The generation is skeptical and pragmatic by nature and will take the time to ask questions and feel confident in their decisions. In a lot of ways, they share qualities with their neighboring generations. From their Baby Boomer parents, Gen X inherited their work ethic and practical nature. They also still appreciate face-to-face interactions, whether in their social life or when it comes to purchasing.

However, their digital habits are more closely aligned with the Millennials generation. They’re highly connected through mobile phones and on social platforms. Indeed, many of them were early adopters and continue to embrace technology at the same pace. The greatest difference is that Gen Xers remember a time of life without technology, and consequentially don’t use it in every facet of their lives. For example, Gen X is less likely to create or cultivate social relationships using technology than Millennials.

Designing Apps for Generation X

When designing and developing for Generation X users, it’s important to keep in mind that these users are value-driven—weighing factors like cost, time, and energy simultaneously. Skip the fluff, and deliver relevant and straightforward information, design, and solutions to this demographic and you’ll find this generation with the highest brand loyalty to be customers for life.

Learn about the design and development considerations you’ll need to navigate when designing digital products for a Generation X audience.

Millennials or Gen Y (Born 1977-1995)

Millennials, currently 23-38 years old, experienced an upbringing unlike any other in history. While they initially learned how to do things “the old way,” the 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 when it comes to how they learn, work, socialize, buy, communicate, and play. The internet became the trusted authority when it comes to learning and information, and crucial to the way Millennials approach solving problems. Because of this, there is a disconnect between Millennials and previous generations as they disrupt the way things have been done.

Millennials are an extremely tech-savvy group of individuals that are dependent on tech in many facets of their lives. This demographic is the first group to be connected to their peers at all times and they leverage their social media networks for many purposes. Social media helps them stay in touch, connect 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 off of those.

When it comes to communication, Millennials prefer to communicate using text messaging or direct messages over a phone call. In the workplace, platforms like Slack allow teams to connect and collaborate remotely and in real time, allowing Millennials the flexibility they desire in creating their work/life balance. Millennials are more open minded and civic oriented than previous generations. Collectively, this group wants to have an impact and contribute to a greater good. As the largest generation in the US labor force, they already have and will continue to do so.

Designing Apps for Millennials

Millennials place a high value on experiences over things, causing them to leverage technology to make it work for them. Digital products would do well to recognize their desire for connection and flexibility and provide a solution that enhances their real life. 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 it comes to design and development considerations, these users can intuitively interact with digital products, so keep the main focus on the value you are providing, but have fun with it. They are the early adopters of technology and will continue to be adaptable as tech evolves.

Learn more about how to design digital products for Millennials here.

Gen Z (Born 1996-TBD)

These new kids on the block, currently 0-22 years old, are the first generation to grow up with the internet around for their entire lifetime—and it shows. Having grown up with the ability to learn at their fingertips, they’re a highly educated and independent group of individuals, many with entrepreneurial goals. With information at their disposal, they expect companies and technology to anticipate their desires and are willing to move on when they don’t deliver. While they may be less loyal than previous generations to businesses and brands, that is not true when it comes to their peers. Gen Z values diversity and equality and is already making waves when it comes to social and political issues.

They’re highly cognizant of their digital brand and its connection to their perceived identity. This generation is always cultivating their online presence and is known to create fake, private accounts to share the “real stuff” with their closest friends, while their curated feeds are meant to appeal to the masses. They might buy their Instagram followers to make them look more popular, after reading a positive review about Upleap online. Sharing content is second-nature to them and is certainly a functionality they’ve grown to expect from digital products.

Designing Apps for Gen Z

While tongue-in-cheek, the popular phrase “pics or it didn’t happen” is said for a reason. Apps targeted at Gen Z would do well to consider how their users can share and interact with others on the platform, or else risk their users asking “what’s the point?” Gen Z users are willing to provide information in exchange for a more personalized experience. For example, these users will have no problem logging in to a new app using their Instagram or Twitter credentials, if it results in a better experience by automatically being connected to their contacts and interests. Gen Z is accustomed to tailored technology and will continue to expect predictive technology to be as reliable and adaptable as they are.

Learn the key insights and considerations to keep in mind when developing digital products aimed at Gen Z.

Gen Alpha (Born 2010-2025)

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.

Designing Apps for Generation Alpha

As the most diverse generation, Gen Alphas are exceedingly innovative, creative, and forward-thinking—with tremendous earning potential.

Developing technology for this demographic will require providing authentic influence through meaningful connections. Deliver an interactive user experience from start to finish. Gen Alphas prefer to see raw and genuine content. Social causes matter greatly to Gen Alphas, and it’s essential to prioritize combatting social issues. 

Learn expert insights and considerations to keep in mind when designing an app for Gen Alpha

Concluding Thoughts on Designing Apps for Different Generations

We’ve written a complete and free guide on How To Design Digital Products for Every Generation. Whether you’re designing apps for different generations or for all, we share key insights to inform and maximize the value your digital solution provides to your users.

Please contact us if you have questions about how generational demographics might impact your app development project.

Download our free development guide

In How to Design Digital Products for Every Generation, we share practical takeaways for any company looking to create a successful digital product—with audience strategy on designing for each generation and designing for all.
Recent Posts

App Design

Key UX Design Trends for 2024: Exploring the Future of Digital Experiences

As technology progresses exponentially, users’ needs and behaviors evolve as well. Continuous innovation in areas like AI, personalization, and accessibility are driving meaningful changes in UX design trends and digital experiences. In a recent article featured on Built In, InspiringApps’ UI/UX Designer, Becca Collins, provided an inside look at how we build customer-centric trends at the heart of our UI/UX design. Customer-Centric: The focus for 2024 and beyond will center around creating more straightforward, secure, and personalized access for all through a customer-centric mindset.  Personalized: Designers can gain unprecedented insight into individual preferences and behaviors by leveraging data and emerging techniques like conversational interfaces to tailor interactions anticipating user needs. Inclusive: At the same time, inclusive practices and intuitive interfaces will help break down barriers so people of all abilities can engage fully with the digital world.  Empowering: This confluence of UX design trends presents an exciting opportunity for user experience to advance in a way that places proper user understanding, empowerment, and delight at the forefront of design. Designers take note—here are the latest trends in UX design. The Rise of Customer-Centric UX Design Trends In today’s digital landscape, users have come to expect nothing less than seamless and highly personalized experiences across all platforms. As a result, UI, UX, and CX as whole have shifted towards prioritizing the user’s needs, preferences, and behavior and using user feedback to iterate and improve the experience. With this philosophy, design exists mainly to help users navigate and use apps. In customer-centric UX design trends, the experience and the design are two sides of the same coin. When businesses understand and cater to these aspects, they can create engaging and satisfying interactions that leave a lasting impression. From intuitive interfaces to personalized recommendations, the focus is on delivering exceptional user experiences that foster loyalty and drive success. These UX design trends all contribute to the shift to customer-centric design. Here are a few that will make the most significant impact on UX design trends in 2024: Enhanced Personalization Through Data The personalization era is here, as we leverage user data and analyze behavioral patterns to create tailored interactions. Applying individuals’ preferences, data, interests, and needs, we can design experiences that resonate personally. Companies like Netflix and Spotify have taken this UX design trend to a new level, offering delightfully personal user experience at every step, driven behind the scenes by users. Advanced customization carefully crafts every interaction to meet users’ unique requirements and expectations, ultimately fostering deeper engagement and satisfaction. Security Meets Simplicity In today’s digital landscape, multi-factor authentication, biometrics, and encryption have emerged as invisible layers of protection. These advanced security measures seamlessly blend into our everyday lives, ensuring safety without compromising user experience. But in addition to keeping harmful agents out, security must be frictionless for app users. Individuals can confidently navigate the digital world by leveraging these cutting-edge technologies, knowing their sensitive information remains safeguarded from potential threats. Designing for All Inclusive design principles aim to ensure equitable access for diverse groups of users, regardless of their abilities, backgrounds, or preferences. Accessibility is more than an optional box to check. It’s the right thing to do for all consumers.  By considering various perspectives and incorporating inclusive design features—including alt text, high contrast and text size options, and imagery reflecting diversity and inclusion—designers can create products and experiences that are accessible to everyone, fostering a more inclusive and empowering digital environment. Accommodating the Aging Population Inclusive design principles ensure that technology remains accessible, engaging, and beneficial for individuals of all ages, creating a more inclusive digital world. As technology trickles down through all aspects of life, UX design is evolving to accommodate the aging population. Older adults may face unique challenges such as vision and hearing impairment, reduced dexterity, or cognitive changes, impacting their interaction with digital platforms. To create a seamless, no-friction user experience for them, designers must incorporate features like larger text sizes, high-contrast color schemes, and simplified navigation. Implementing assistive technologies such as text-to-speech and speech-to-text aids can significantly enhance the digital experience for the hearing and visually impaired.  Microinteractions That Delight Subtle cues and feedback are essential for enhancing functionality and providing moments of delight and discovery. These small but impactful details can guide users seamlessly through an experience, making it more intuitive and enjoyable. By incorporating these elements, we can create an interface that meets users’ needs and surprises and delights them along the way. Microinteractions are the secret sauce of user interfaces (UI). They are the small but powerful details that boost user engagement by offering instant feedback. From charming icons to delightful animations, these intricate elements inject life into your product, making it irresistibly appealing. Weaving Stories Through Experience Exploring the fascinating art of design narrative and storytelling goes beyond aesthetics and delves into emotional connections and deep engagement. By meticulously crafting seamless and captivating product journeys, designers have the power to create experiences that resonate with users on a profound level, leaving a lasting impact. Considering how we want users to feel when using our websites or apps is an integral part of storytelling through design. We can guide users toward specific actions by evoking emotions like joy, sadness, excitement, or grief through compelling copy and imagery. As we move forward, UX trends will continue to evolve and adapt to incorporate new technologies, enabling us to anticipate better and meet users’ needs, ultimately reshaping digital products to revolve around the human experience. By focusing on enhancing usability, accessibility, and overall user satisfaction, we can create digital experiences that truly resonate with people and make a positive impact on their lives. The Future of UX Design Trends As we continue to push the boundaries and push ourselves as designers, it’s crucial to consider different generations’ diverse needs and preferences. Whether it’s Baby Boomers who value ease of use or Gen Z who prioritize customization and personalization, understanding what matters most to each age group will be vital in creating successful digital products. Designers and developers should continue to observe, research, and learn from our users as we strive to create incredible designs that make a difference in people’s lives.

4 months ago

App Design

Decoding Key Terms in UI UX Design & Customer Experience (CX)

In the fast-paced digital product development world, understanding UI/UX design nuances and the critical role of customer experience is essential. Digital products continue to evolve, fueling an increased emphasis on the user perspective. It’s time to deepen our understanding of these widely used—yet frequently misunderstood—terms: UI, UX, and CX. UI, UX, & CX Defined From the visual elements comprising interfaces to a holistic evaluation of a product’s usability, from a product’s interaction efficiency to the more significant, more encompassing perception of a customer’s interaction with a brand—UI, UX, and CX are critical terms that shed light on diverse perspectives of product development and design. UI: User Interface UI, or user interface, is the point at which the user interacts with a digital device or product, such as a mobile app, website, or software application. It encompasses all the elements users interact with—the screen, pages, buttons, and icons—ensuring an intuitive and efficient experience. Focus on User Interface (UI): UI refers to the visual elements and interactive components that users directly engage with. It encompasses the design aspects that draw users’ attention and guide their interactions within the interface. Examples of UI in Action: When designing a user interface, consider elements such as buttons for user interaction, icons for visual representation, menus for navigation, layout for structuring content, color scheme for aesthetics, typography for text presentation, and animations for enhancing user experience. Goal: The objective is to design and develop a visually captivating, user-friendly UI that looks appealing and ensures users’ ease of navigation and comprehension—a marriage of form and function. User interface (UI) concerns the visual layout and look of a product’s interface, which might be through a website, app, or software. UI design involves the aesthetics of a product—the typography, color schemes, button designs, and layout that form the overall look and feel. Understanding UI Design Principles UI design iterates upon user experience (UX) design by implementing visual elements that enhance usability and intuitiveness. UI/UX designers meticulously apply intuitive navigation and clear information hierarchy through a consistent and unique visual language that helps cultivate brand identity and sets a digital product apart from its competitors. First Impressions: The UI is often the first thing users experience, so it must be visually appealing and easy to navigate. Usability: The UI should be intuitive and easy to use, even for users who are not familiar with the product or service. User Satisfaction: A well-designed UI can make users feel more satisfied and engaged with the product or service. Brand Identity: The UI can help to communicate the brand identity and values of the company behind the product or service. UI design plays a vital role in all of the above. It is crucial in creating usable, enjoyable, and aesthetically pleasing user experiences. “UX and UI are often paired together because it’s often the same position working on those two things. When you start with user experience design, it will then turn into the user interface design that completes the whole product.” —BECCA COLLINS, UI/UX DESIGNER | INSPIRINGAPPS User experience (UX) design focuses on creating seamless, intuitive, and valuable user interactions with products and services. It optimizes products for effective use through understanding user needs, capabilities, and business goals. UX designers aim to enhance the quality of user interactions and perceptions. UX: User Experience Focus: User experience refers to a user’s overall experience when interacting with a product. It encompasses the product’s emotional response, functional effectiveness, and usability aspects. A good user experience ensures users can easily navigate the product, find what they need, and enjoy using it. It is essential for building customer satisfaction and loyalty. Examples of UX in Action: Some key aspects to consider in UX design are ease of use for intuitive interactions, efficiency for smooth functionality, learnability for user-friendly experiences, accessibility for inclusivity, user journey mapping for understanding user pathways, and user research for informed decision-making. Goal: The primary objective is to design an enjoyable, user-centric, and efficient product that not only meets but exceeds the target user base’s needs and expectations. User experience (UX) design focuses on improving user experience through product interactions. User experience (UX) is more than just interacting with a product. It aims to enhance the user experience by simplifying each step of the users’ journey, ultimately making their interaction more straightforward and enjoyable to achieve desired tasks. Enhancing User Experience in Digital Products Improving the user experience in digital products is crucial in captivating and retaining users. Strategies like the following are crucial for designers and developers aiming to elevate the UX of their digital offerings. Ease of Use: Intuitive design and clear information architecture guide users through the product effortlessly. Efficiency: Streamlined workflows and minimal friction ensure users achieve their goals quickly and efficiently. Emotional Appeal: Emotionally appealing design elements create a positive association with the product, fostering loyalty and advocacy. Digital app designers aim to simplify the user’s journey. By prioritizing ease of use, efficiency, and emotional appeal, UX designers can create digital products that are functional, enjoyable, and memorable, leaving a lasting positive impression on users. UX is a part of the broader CX realm. In digital product development, there’s a clear relationship between UI, UX, and the overall customer experience. CX: Customer Experience CX, or customer experience, refers to consumers’ broader experience with a company’s digital products, including websites and applications. It includes every aspect of a company’s offering, from the usability and functionality of its products to the emotional responses they evoke. Focus: The entire customer journey and overall brand perception, encompassing interactions with marketing, sales, support, and the product itself. Examples of CX in Action: Strategic areas where businesses can focus their efforts include customer service interactions, streamlining the onboarding process for new users, effective brand communication strategies, timely product updates to meet customer needs, and fostering community engagement initiatives to build a loyal customer base. Goal: A customer experience (CX) designer aims to build lasting customer relationships by providing exceptional products and personalized services that meet their unique needs, fostering loyalty and advocacy. Customer experience (CX) is a comprehensive term that goes beyond just digital interactions. CX represents the full journey a customer embarks on with a brand. It is a digital customer journey spanning various facets like sales, marketing, and customer service, including online and in-person interactions. CX design provides consistent, positive, and memorable customer experiences that shape their perception of the brand. CX design goes beyond the digital realm of UX in capturing customers’ feelings across multiple touchpoints and channels, including the brick-and-mortar store experience and more. Creating a Successful Customer Experience  Creating an exceptional customer experience requires a holistic approach beyond offering individual elements like onboarding, customer support, and value. It’s about weaving these elements into a seamless journey that delights customers at every touchpoint. Onboarding: A welcoming and guided onboarding process that helps new customers understand the product’s value and functionalities. Customer Support: Prompt, efficient, and helpful assistance is provided to customers when they encounter problems or have questions. Value: Ensuring customer journey and interactions bring considerable value to users. “I’ve used personalization in a meal planning app for people with disabilities. The content presented in the app is highly dependent on the user’s unique profile and needs set up during onboarding. Clear actions are suggested based on the time of day.” —BECCA COLLINS, UI/UX DESIGNER | INSPIRINGAPPS Personalization is a key design trend that makes the product feel more like a companion than a stale or complicated experience. Combined with onboarding and support, it helps to build a deeper relationship with users and achieve long-term success. The Difference Between UI, UX, & CX Understanding UI, UX, and CX is essential for designing digital products that look good, work well, and build lasting customer relationships. UI is a subset of UX. The interface is the tangible manifestation of the UX, making it a crucial component but not the sole factor in user experience. UX is a subset of CX. UX focuses specifically on the product experience, while CX encompasses the entire customer journey and relationship with the brand. All three work together. A successful digital product requires a holistic approach that integrates UI, UX, and CX considerations to deliver a seamless and satisfying experience for users and customers. Real-World Examples of UI/UX Design & CX Improving the Digital Customer Journey in Real Estate The award-winning inHere app provides an excellent case study of how UI, UX, and CX create a user-friendly interface and an enhanced user experience, which is essential for improving UI/UX designs. 1. Standout UI Features Buttons, icons, and menus provide easy navigation for managing transactions. A visually appealing color scheme, typography, and illustrations enhance the look and feel. The intuitive layout makes complex tasks manageable and efficient. 2. Standout UX Features Users can easily track milestones and progress of their real estate transactions. Secure document signing simplifies and speeds up the process. User guidance features to assist new users and enhance the overall experience. 3. Standout CX Features The streamlined onboarding process makes it easy to get started. Secure communication and efficient transactions build trust. The app provides value by simplifying and securing real estate transactions. By focusing on user-friendly navigation, appealing visual elements, and efficient transaction processes, the inHere app stands out as a model of innovation within the industry. It demonstrates how attention to detail in UI and UX features can directly enhance the overall customer experience (CX), making real estate transactions smoother and more secure. This case study serves as a powerful testament to the value of a holistic approach in digital product design, where each element works synergistically to improve customer satisfaction and engagement. Enhancing User Experience in an E-commerce Digital Product Artifact Uprising offers a creative and emotionally gratifying experience for transforming digital photos into personalized art. 1. Standout UI Features A simple and functional interface provides intuitive photo upload and design tools. The interface is user-friendly and visually appealing. 2. Standout UX Features The app enables effortless image uploading from various sources. The design platform allows for easy customization and creativity. Features enhance the joy of creating personalized mementos. 3. Standout CX Features The app clearly introduces its unique selling points (USP) and value proposition. There is easy-to-access customer support for quick problem-solving. The app provides value by making creating tangible memories enjoyable and convenient. The Importance of UI, UX, & CX in Digital Products The app design process isn’t just about pretty colors and cool animations. It’s about crafting a beautiful interface (UI) that users love and a smooth experience (UX) that keeps them coming back. But it goes deeper than that—creating a positive and memorable relationship with your customers (CX). InspiringApps’ designers work with businesses to turn ideas into a complete app that looks great, works well, and leaves a lasting impression. Businesses can better shape their digital products and improve customer journeys by applying our holistic approach to UI/UX design and customer experience. A carefully curated blend of UI, UX, and CX sets the stage for a successful app that users will adore.

5 months ago

Blog Categories
App Design
App Marketing
Business & Strategy
Client Projects
Culture & Innovation
Digital Product Development
Digital Products
Events
InspiringApps News
Mobile Industry
Technology
Webinars