How UX Design Can Help You Connect with Multiple Generations
This is a guest article by tech blogger Luke Smith
Imagine having the ability to reach out to each and every one of your customers and personally make sure they understand and enjoy your product, all while introducing yourself to potential customers looking for a product. Unfortunately, you can’t do all this at once, and that’s why your business website does it for you. A good website is one of your biggest assets and a make-or-break touchpoint with consumers.
Today, everyone in business knows they need a good website, but many don’t know what “good” actually means. Think of it this way — you could have a perfectly functioning website that does everything you want it to do but is it doing everything your consumer needs it to? It all boils down to UX.
UX, or User Experience, is no longer the futuristic, unfamiliar suggestion it once was; it’s a present-day necessity for anyone planning to design a product, experience, or website. The Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) explains that “UX encompasses all aspects of the end user’s interaction with the company, its services, and products.” Its first requirement is to seamlessly fulfill the needs of the customer. Simply put, UX is how your customer experiences your product or service.
UX offers more than just a good website or app though, it also gives you an insight into what your customer is focusing on or looking for on your website. With this in mind, Maryville University recommends that all business innovators master User Experience skills, as a part of essential modern marketing skills required to succeed in the workplaces of today. By honing UX capabilities, “user experience specialists can shed light on customer preference and behavior and help design websites and apps to drive customer retention and sales. Research, providing customer behavioral insight, and coding are all vital skills within this area.”
The Value of Good UX
Today, UX is essential for business success. An article by Impact exploring the business value of UX states that 61 percent of users move to another site if they aren’t able to immediately find what they are looking for — further making the case for easy website navigation.
In this way, UX is a silent utility, but an important one. While you may not often hear someone praising a website’s good design, you’ll definitely hear them complain if it’s not up to the mark. Bad UX is bad for business and Impact found that it is 100x more expensive to fix a UX error after implementation as opposed to fixing it beforehand.
While bad UX can cost your business customers and money, good UX can bring them in. A well-planned website with ease of use and great content can turn a potential customer into a regular one. Fiscal Tiger emphasizes how your website’s user experience reflects your customer experience and can be the final persuasion a customer needs to purchase your product. A good website experience can get new and regular consumers to engage with your brand, and is also important for word-of-mouth marketing—when one customer likes your product and recommends you to someone new, your website or app is the first thing they’re going to share.
Thus, how you execute UX decides whether or not your website works for your consumer. You already know that users differ demographically and psychologically, but they also differ generationally — which means that your website or app design, if not well planned, could unintentionally be driving away your customer base. So how do you use user-first web design to connect with the right audience? Read on to find out.
Designing for Your Consumer
Different generations need, expect, and are comfortable with different things when it comes to design. Picture a grandparent and grandchild accessing the same eCommerce website: interactive links and drop-down menus are all easily navigable for digital native Gen Z-ers like the grandchild, but the grandparent may become flustered with too much digital interaction and not getting to the product page with a couple of direct clicks. Thus, websites rarely follow a one-size-fits-all formula — despite common misconceptions. While you may aspire to reach every consumer, it’s important for you to prioritize who your primary consumer is. After this, you can integrate factors that are appealing to this category of customers into your website design.
A survey by Visual Objects found that different generations differ greatly in the way they navigate the internet and have certain hooks that draw them to the websites and social media platforms they frequent. For instance, Gen Z-ers “seek an immersive web experience that revolves around open exploration, visual creativity, and rewarding interactions.” What this means is these digital natives are drawn to websites that are fluid, aesthetically pleasing, and have meaningful interactions — so it’s no wonder that Instagram and YouTube are their most preferred platforms according to a survey by Business Insider. These platforms have fewer distractions, more personalized feeds, and offer immersive and endless content across categories from learning to entertainment. Digital sophistication is inherent with this generation, so they appreciate newer, novel features that enable them to explore a website on their own.
In terms of website frustrations, the Visual Objects survey found that Gen Z-ers rank pop-up ads as their main source of annoyance with websites. On the contrary, Millennials, Gen X-ers, and Baby Boomers ranked unreliability of a website as their number one problem. When one considers these simple insights, it becomes clear that it is necessary to prioritize the user when designing a business website of your own.
Using UX to Connect With Different Generations
As we’ve established, different age groups have different needs from digital platforms. So how do these generational gaps translate into actually designing for your UX? An insightful UX Planet article by Rasmi Desai explains that making the interface user friendly usually depends on a few factors: fonts, color, and contrast, language, gestures and navigation, and the user journey flow or UI map. Here are a few pointers that draw from this research when designing UX for various generations:
If you’re creating UX for younguns between 0 to 8, the primary goal is to keep them busy. Toddler-friendly UX includes:
- Uncluttered, minimal UI
- Vivid colors and themes
- No integrated advertisements
- Animations, sounds, illustrations, videos — kids love them all!
As Desai explains, the digital world is their first introduction to the world outside their physical circle of family and friends and as they get older, they want to satisfy their curiosity even more. Here are a few tips to make your UX teen-friendly:
- Avoid jargon
- Keep the UI clean
- Content should keep them focused on the goal, not encourage digression
- Prioritize graphical over textual content; teens get frustrated & distracted by text
- Integrate video when necessary
- Keep your content young, simple, relatable, and fresh
- Only integrate relevant advertising where required
Ranging from 20 to 35, young adults are the most digitally sophisticated and have very specific expectations from their digital platforms. Desai and the NNG weigh in on how to create a UX that appeals to this segment:
- Prioritize search over discovery
- Make site interactions purposeful or don’t have them at all
- Make your UI map/journey straightforward
- Don’t be afraid to prioritize text (although not in intimidating blocks)
- Create easily scannable content
- Clearly defined directions, instructions, and goals
- Make sure they get their answers quickly and don’t need to delve deep for the information they’re looking for
Between 35 and 55, these adults have embraced technology and truly understand the value of good user experience. For them, this includes:
- Large, clear text
- A direct and simple UI map
- Highly visible and memorable interfaces
- Minimal animation or distraction
- Clear feedback and regular reminders of goals
- No split tasks across multiple screens
- Long-form copy and engaging content
The latest user group to embrace the digital world, seniors aged 56-80, are eager to learn but perhaps the most difficult group to appease. An article by Spire Digital explores how UX can be made more accessible for these digital newbies and shares tips on what makes a senior-friendly UX:
- Large font sizes
- Simple, singular backgrounds
- Clear visual and audio aid
- Subtitles for video/audio content
- The ability to self-adjust text size
- Minimal permissions pop-ups
- Avoid using the color blue for important interface elements
- Simple UI map
While it’s true each generation has its preferences for what makes a good UX, there are a few universal UX principles that appeal to consumers across the board. These include:
Designing every page like a landing page. Creating each page of your website with the same attention to detail you give to your homepage ensures a positive experience for when customers explore your site.
Easy navigation. Navigation is a key marker of good UX. Strategizing and pre-planning for how your user will move between content, whether or not they have to click, search, or filter content will do wonders to create a UX that’s seamless for all consumers.
Easily readable pages. Another important marker of good UX is how easy it is to read the content. Avoid causing users to strain their eyes and highlight what you want them to pay the most attention to.
Clear layouts. It seems obvious, but often something as simple as a layout can negatively affect your UX. Keep your layout simple, clean, and uncluttered.
Your User Experience can determine how your customer feels about your brand, whether or not you’re satisfying their needs, and if your business’ product is attractive to potential customers. Using UX principles like the ones discussed above will help you tailor your digital experience. In turn, this will improve your customer’s perception of your brand and ultimately help your business profit.
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he has been trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.
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