4 Things Your App Needs to Appeal to a Gen Z Audience

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  • design

Creating products and services for Gen Z can be difficult.

We live in a fast-paced world of rapidly changing trends and cultural norms.

But it pays to get clued up on the younger generation. After all, they command an increasingly large share of the market.

If you need some pointers, you should check out our other post. We look at the ways Gen Z interacts with technology, culture, and money.

As with any target audience, knowing this generation better will inform how you design your product. But what are some specific things that you can do to improve the chances of Gen Z engaging with your digital product in a meaningful way?

We’ve picked 4 things you need to remember if you’re designing an app or website for this audience.

 

1. User experience that’s on point 

There’s too much competition out there for your digital product to have a sub-par UX.

Gen Z are digital natives, so they are arguably more tech savvy than any other generation. Rather than being an argument for being relaxed about usability, it’s actually a reason why it should be a major concern.

Yes, they have the capability to tackle technical problems, but they also have high expectations for the technology they’re using. Successful apps should have limited friction in the user experience, so that using the app is seamless.

Time is limited. Everything is now. You can get things delivered tomorrow on Amazon. Challenger banks allow you to transfer money instantly. 

Fintech apps are a great example of the generational gap. They make dealing with money much easier. Younger users are more likely to use these apps than go into a physical branch because it presents a smooth, frictionless experience.

Older users might put up with a poorer user experience of traditional banking because they perhaps aren’t aware of the range of options available to them. Gen Z are already using smartphones, so they have a world of choice at their fingertips.

This presents a high bar for startups developing apps that solve a problem. Users can pick and choose. They’ll bin your app in an instant if it doesn’t deliver the experience they’re used to.  

 

Screenshot from Cleo Money app

A playful tone of voice or trying too hard? Only Gen Z can decide.

2. A relatable and respectful tone of voice

Gen Z know what they’re doing when it comes to technology. They’ve grown up with it after all. 

As such it’s important that you get your tone of voice right. This is less about visual design, although it’s still an integral and often overlooked part of product design. Language is very important. 

Younger internet users will smell a phony a mile off. Whether it’s because the voice is overbearing and patronising or because it tries too hard to be familiar. You don’t need to pretend to be one of their mates, you just need to sound trustworthy.

The main thing to remember is that Gen Z like being treated with respect. They have a digital autonomy that their elders did not have and a greater awareness of what’s going on in the world, through social media. The language should reflect that.

For fintechs this is particularly important as their understanding of money and investing is far more developed at a younger age than for generations before them. They actually do know how to look after their money, despite what some might think. And looking after money is simpler than ever before.

We mentioned Cleo in our other post, but it’s worth bringing up here as an example of a brand that does get it mostly right (we think) when it comes to communicating with its target audience.

Of course, you won’t please everyone, but ‘roast’ and ‘hype’ modes, a liberal use of emojis and zany imagery, and a modern voice, straddle that fine line between respectful and cringeworthy.

 

Bobble Haus clothing website home page

The Bobblehaus website is certainly captivating

3. A captivating but fluid design

The look of your product is also important. Anything less than eye-catching probably isn’t going to make the cut.

It’s a bit of cliché but Gen Z have a short attention span (actually we all do) of about 8 seconds. It’s particularly true for this generation who will soon click away from something that hasn’t grabbed their attention. They also have multiple devices at their disposal and will often be using 2 or more, simultaneously.

With so many brands available and offering very similar things, why should they stick with you?

For building websites, WordPress has often been the go-to for everyday users and is still very popular with a lot of businesses. However, platforms like Squarespace offer a slicker and cleaner user experience and arguably more attractive websites. As a result, younger users are more likely to go for this or a similar platform.

So what visual choices should you make?

Bright colours are a must. And don’t be afraid to rock the boat. Many brands opt for a safe colour scheme, hoping not to scare people off.

But with younger generations, anything goes and to be fair, it always has. Bright, bold, brash colour schemes will mark you out as an exciting brand, not afraid to take risks. 

This alternative clothing site, Bobblehaus, goes hard on the bright and the bold. They also have an eco-friendly ethos and relevant content - they don't just stick to the clothes, they actually communicate with their audience. These are all important things for Gen Z too.

The design also needs to have some fluidity. Rigid gender boundaries and barriers to entry are not a part of the Gen Z life experience, so the design of your product should be as inclusive and broad as it can be.

 

Spotify wrapped screenshots

4. Shareable or memeable features

Note: Memeable probably isn’t a word, but it definitely should be.

There’s no question that Gen Z hang out on social media. They are particularly active on those platforms that revolve around video and sharing capabilities.

This article from Sprout Social pointed out that Gen Z’s most popular platforms are “video-centered and gamified platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok.” 

Viral content and trending memes play an active role in the way content is consumed on these platforms. It’s what generates conversation and activity. Nowhere is this more true than on TikTok where videos will grow and grow in popularity depending on how much interaction and views they get.

There’s a lot of potential for brand growth here. One of the main ways brands get their product to the masses is through influencer marketing. This might not be a relevant strategy for your digital product but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the power of influence.

Authentically and seamlessly incorporating sharing capabilities into your product could lead to users voluntarily sharing your brand.

Can your app be gamified, delivering results or points that can be shared easily? Is there a unique feature that is inherently shareable? Spotify Wrapped is a great example of this. It’s more of an annual marketing campaign than a product feature but it serves as good inspiration for what is achievable.

Not everything has to be shareable. But if you provide a unique experience or a new way of doing something that has historically not been that interesting, users are more likely to put it in an Instagram story, a tweet, or a Snap to their friends. 

Word of warning; the bad stuff is shareable too. Whilst the experience would have to be really bad for people to go out of their way to shout about it on social media, it’s good to be aware that social media is a microphone for dissatisfied customers.

 

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We hope these tips have been helpful. Having these 4 things will make sure your product stands out from the crowd. Designing things for Gen Z isn’t a dark art, you’ve just got to understand your target audience.

For more on this topic, check out our other post and hit us up if you’re looking to build a fintech that serves this new generation of spenders. 

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