Your website is the virtual showcase of your business, so it is essential to think about your target audience when it comes to attract future clients. Learn here the main web design rules and how to offer a top-notch site for different audiences.
When it comes to websites, many companies still believe that the main purpose of their site is to sell, yet they forget to realize that the key lies on the final consumer. With this in mind, we want to show here some web design rules your site should follow if you are considering changing, redesigning or creating a new website geared to Millennials, Baby Boomers or the Generation X.
Today’s youth: The Millennials
Born between 1980 and the late 90’s, the Millennials are currently the largest population in the world. In the U.S. alone, there are 75.4 million millennials and by 2025, it is estimated that there will be 200 billion all over the world.
Such is their importance, that according to a Deloitte’s study, the Millennials will shape 75% of the global active population (with high capacity of acquisition) by 2025.
Who are they and what do they like?
- They are digital-native, highly visual and the biggest consumers of the Internet.
- They love to be informed and updated, and most of their decisions are based on the information they acquire. For instance, Forbes Magazine points out that 33% of Millennials read corporate blogs before acquiring a product or service.
- This generation uses mobile devices the most: according to ComScore, 80% have a smartphone and more than 40% of them use tablets.
- 70% expect a company website to include a self-service application.
- They value their time and want things fast and now. They won’t wait more than 8 seconds for a complete website download.
Rule 1: Mobile, mobile, mobile
- Is common for Millennials to switch constantly between devices. Make sure your website has a responsive design because you could lose a big part of your audience.
- Keep in mind that they check their phones, on average, 45 times per day.
- Ensure that mobile pages load quickly. 68% of them abandon a website when it doesn’t display properly and flawlessly on their mobile devices.
Rule 2: Improve the user experience
- Millennials are avid for information. Your website should offer valuable content in order to respond to their priorities and needs.
- Millennials care about finding what they want in a quick and easy way, so simplify their navigation. Limit the unnecessary layers or elements of navigation and create an intuitive structure and a visual design that really engage your audience.
- Maintain design minimalist and basic. By doing this, you may also reduce their cognitive load (amount of mental processing power needed to use your site).
- Audio and video is expected, not only accepted. They love highly interactive, fun and innovative websites.
Rule 3: Allow them to solve their own problems
- Millennials do not like calls, live chat or sending an email to customer services. They prefer to solve their issues by their own, which means you have to cut the hassle of dealing with another person.
- Give them easy access to a FAQ page, self-help tutorials or a troubleshooting guide.
The tech learners: Generation X
Even though this generation includes various ages (they were born between 1960 and 1980) with remarkable differences between them, this is a generation who is totally engaged with technology even though they are not digital-natives. It is estimated that in the U.S. there are around 66 million people who belong to the Generation X.
Who are they and what do they like?
- Although they weren’t born as digital-natives, they handle technology well and are fast learners.
- According to Global Web Index, 67% of them have smartphones and 33% use tablets. Also, 90% use Internet frequently.
- For them, it is important to be able to adapt and personalize the interface.
- In addition, they expect technology will help them to do things besides having fun and relax.
Rule 1: Usability first
- Different researches has indicated that when users reach 25 years old, the amount of time needed to complete digital tasks increases by 0.8% as they age each year. This means that you must prioritise usability. Be sure to conduct usability tests early in the process and often, always include participants across the entire targeted-age range.
Rule 2: Balance functionality and entertainment
- Gen X looks for a website that provide both, functionality and entertainment. Make sure your website is easy to understand and navigate.
- They appreciate information and solutions to their needs as much as they like websites where they can learn something new and find some entertainment. Within your website you can display videos, Do It Yourself (DIY) tutorials or any other valuable information to guide your customer to a final decision.
- They have a strong preference for fast, easy-to-use websites and if they are looking to buy something (81% of them made online purchases), they need to have clear payment process information. This applies if your website has an ecommerce business.
- Provide 24/7 support. For those who were born in the early 60’s, it is important to have a full-time customer service.
Rule 3: Do it mobile
- It is estimated that 90% of Gen X have access to Internet on a regular basis and most of them – as the Millennials – do it through mobile devices.
- Because the age range of this generation is so vast and the great majority has a formal job or financial capacity, they are frequent online shoppers. Make sure your clients have a great experience on their mobile device in order to make fast and reliable purchases.
The first ones: Baby Boomers
Born after World War II (1946-1965), this generation uses the least amount of technology out of the other groups. Nonetheless, this group is just as important when it comes to your site design, not only because they exceed the Generation X population, but also because they are getting close to the 74.9 million population of Millennials.
Who are they and what do they like?
- They are not as demanding as the Millennials or the Generation X, which means they do not need to have different experiences in different devices.
- They use Internet the least (about 20 hours per week) and they prefer a laptop rather than a mobile device to browse the web. 40% of them use smartphones (although 85% have a cellphone) and 15% use a tablet.
Rule 1: Make it as simple as you can
- As with all audiences, a good mobile experience is key, which means that usability and accessibility practices are the Holy Grail of having a successful website.
- Boomers still experience some lack confidence with the digital world. Make it easy for them and keep the website as simple, useful and intuitive as you can. They must find everything they need with the least amount of clicks.
- They prefer things that are safe to use because they are more prone to error than other generations.
- Be aware of content and/or functionalities that assume someone is young or at a certain stage in life.
Rule 2: Fast and clear
- Baby Boomers audience will abandon a site where they have to fight with the system. They will avoid to struggle with a confusing and frustrating navigation, as well as a mobile website that is slow.
- Keep away from things that move, flicker or play automatically.
- During longer tasks (e.g. an online purchase), give clear feedback on progress and reminders of goals.
Rule 3: Easy to use
- Provide options to enlarge font sizes but avoid font sizes smaller than 16 pixels. Pay attention to contrast ratios with text.
- Always test your product using screen readers.
- Provide subtitles to video or audio content. This will enhance the user experience.
- For the mobile layout, follow the native mobile application navigational and design patterns rather than desktop patterns. This will help to reduce the user’s learning curve and make your mobile web application more intuitive for most users.
TO SUM UP
There is a philosophy for web design that has to be set in our minds no matter who the audience is: to create cutting edge, fast, stylish, easy-to-navigate and affordable websites. In addition, the mobile rule is, perhaps, one of the most important rules of all. Do not forget that Google has modified its algorithm and mobile enabled sites rank higher than those who are not, and therefore it is not an option not having a mobile-friendly version of your website.
We need to comprehend and recognise behavioural differences between generations –even within themselves– when designing websites. But…Would it be worth it to think on your target audience when it comes to web design? The answer is YES! Why? Because the experience that a customer has online contributes towards their perception of the brand, so a poorly designed website (or app, for sure) will have wider repercussions besides just losing clients.
Designs have to be focused on and implemented towards your key audience. You must be sure that the company’s website reflects not only what the business is about, but identifies the needs and desires of your target and keep in mind these web design rules. Have you thought about this? Are you ready to improve your website design and make an impact on your own audience?
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