Designing products for Generation X should be a consideration for companies bringing products to market today. This tech-savvy group is not afraid of ever-evolving technology and looks for digital solutions not only for themselves, but also for their kids and aging parents.
In a previous post, Designing Apps for Different Generations, we looked broadly at how the generation in which you were born 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. Companies developing products aimed at Gen X, should understand that these values can provide valuable insight to consider throughout the process.
Gen X Background
Generation X, born between 1965 – 1977, make up the smallest generation. Spending their formative years in the 70s and 80s, Gen Xers had busy or absent parents and the balance of world powers in question. This generation spent their earliest years exploring new forms of entertainment. Incredible cinema like Star Wars, video games like Atari, and the premiere of MTV allowed them to form an affinity for pop culture that remains unique to this generation. Apple introduced the MacIntosh in the teen years for Gen X. Pagers became mainstream in their early 20s. Ever-evolving technology advances allowed them to be connected like never before.
Gen Xers are currently ages 43-55. This practical and driven generation is BUSY. They’re at the peak of their lives – juggling careers, raising kids, and caring for aging parents. Many Xers are on the cusp of a life shift like an empty nest and growing financial freedom. And similar to Boomers, they are starting to feel the effects of age.
Gen X and Technology
Generation X grew up right before the rise of computers and the explosion of technology. Collectively, their pragmatic nature challenged norms and social standards, and gave way to culture-shaping institutions like Google, Facebook, Tesla, Twitter, and YouTube.
Many Gen Xers were tech early adopters and continue to embrace it. They’re highly connected on social platforms and cell phones – both Androids and iPhones. They see tech as a way to get more things done, assist with their aging parents, and stay connected with their kids. Video content is more popular among Gen X internet users than social networking, with 78.7% downloading or streaming video online at least once per month.
Considerations when Designing for Gen X
Provide Value and Solutions
This busy generation finds ways to streamline their day-to-day tasks, looking to tech to provide solutions on anything from their latest home improvement project to a healthy recipe for their family on-the-go. Provide Gen Xers with straightforward design that helps them conduct these searches, but more importantly, delivers the content that they seek. This generation is known to have the greatest brand loyalty and will be lifelong users of products they feel add *real* value to their *real* life.
Skip the Nonessentials
Gen Xers have been around for generations of tech developments and anticipate problems that might arise. Save your product from their frustration and know that a straightforward approach is your best bet. Lose those few sentences of fluffy copy and ditch the long animations in favor of a simple, practical design leading to a good user experience that connects them to your product’s valuable solution as quickly as possible.
The most important thing is to be transparent with these users, especially when it comes to their data and other sensitive information. Communicate with your users with direct notifications and alerts and be explicit about what their data will and will not be used for.
Additionally, consider extra protection for your product if you’re dealing with sensitive information. Using two-factor authentication, or Touch or Face ID features, can offer Gen Xers an added layer of security that will encourage them to trust your product.
Lastly, only collect the information necessary to a good user experience. Ask questions up front as you design such as:
- Do users need to create a username or will their email suffice?
- Does their last name need to be stored? What about gender? What information is unnecessary?
- Are there ways to lead users through an experience more quickly, such as checking out as a guest?
Concluding Thoughts on Designing for Gen X
Designing for a Gen X audience is different than designing for other generations. Members of this practical and tech-savvy generation are open to digital products that offer real solutions. 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.