Posted on Apr 26, 2012
Developing Technology for Millenials
Think about it: More then half of the 7 billion humans in this world are under 30, most of which grew up using mobile devices. If you haven’t been considering how to develop apps and websites for millenials, now is the the time to do so
First though, a quick definition: Millenials, also called Generation Y or Digital Natives, are those that came of age in the new millennium and were born between 1981 and 2000. You might think of them as kids but a growing percentage of them are already adults.
They live and breathe digital and as such, consume it differently compared to the people who came before them. According to a Study by Time Warner, they’ve identified a few of the key interactions millenials have with the devices around them.
1. Millenials use mobile devices to mainly kill boredom and fill in short gaps in the day. They’re a bit restless, swapping between phone and TV and tablets up to 27 times per hour. Concluding that this generation is using the devices to better gauge there mood rather than to engage there emotions.
The key thing to remember here is that your app or site has to be easy to use at the onset, or else he or she will just switch away to something else. Load content that is needed and let the user decide if he or she wants to go on and consume more. Use either well-thought out pagination or infinite scrolling that loads effortlessly to show more content.
Case in point: Instagram. When browsing feeds of your friend’s photos, it loads the images up quickly but it also lets you scroll and load more if you want to
2. Another finding is that millenials almost always have a device within reach. Sixty-five percent of millenials took their devices as they moved in their homes.
This means that they will treat the device as an extension of themselves and as such, gestures need to be baked into your apps. Everyone expects that a swipe to the left will turn the page and holding something with a long press will let you move that thing around. Take a look at Flipboard for some inspiration in this area.
Move away from unnatural interfaces like having too many buttons and using arrows to show other pages. You can still use these of course but it’s best to hide them. Millenials will find these commands when they need them so you don’t need them to be “on” always.This also means that peer interaction is something that millenials expect from whatever device they are using. Embed clear, easy to use sharing buttons in your apps for them to use.
3. Millenials prefer texting. 54% said that they prefer it over talking to people. That of course doesn’t mean they forsook their vocal chords for twiddling thumbs; it just means that for people they don’t know, they prefer a less direct form of communication.
On the side of the developer, that means that your support should be available both through indirect means like forums and FAQs as well as through more direct text-based communication like email and chat.
4. Lastly, millenials want stories to have a beginning, middle and end but not necessarily in that order, and not necessarily from one source.
The takeaway from this is that whatever content you present should be consistent in all platforms and all of the content should be available for the user to consume whatever way she or he sees fit. If you offer a web-based service, they should be able to see the same or at least very similar visuals regardless whether they use an app, mobile website or full website. Commands, data and design elements should be consistent on each.
Photo credit: http://www.mondaynote.com/2010/07/25/understanding-the-digital-natives/