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Tips to Engage with Gen Z users in Mobile Apps

By Nick Epson on September 25, 2020

Life would be much easier for mobile app developers if all users were created equal but that’s not the case: we have a younger generation using apps for everything from pleasure to business so it’s critical for businesses to understand how to engage with Gen Z users. Though Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, it’s important to understand how to connect with the younger crowd both professionally and for leisure as they’re an integral part of today’s user base. 

It may feel a little absurd that we have to talk about this and perhaps it’s even more ridiculous that this is coming from a Millennial. Thanks to a lot of people watching and a little help from the web, I’ve found a few talking points that I’d like to discuss.

What is a Gen Z user and how do they differ from other generations?

Generation Z is considered to be those born between the mid-late 90s to the early 2010s. This is the first generation to have grown up with what most would consider today’s “modern technology,” namely smart devices and the myriad of applications they run.

Gen Z is a bit different than the Millennial crowd but there’s still some overlap. The older half of Millennials went through high school and some of their undergrad with Nokia bricks and Motorola Razrs. The younger half of Millennials had smart devices during their defining adolescent years as these started to blow up in the mid-late 2000s meaning this chunk of society was the first to be connected 24/7. As far as Gen Z is concerned, smart devices and modern social media were a part of their lives from an even earlier age so modern tech is heavily ingrained in their lifestyle.

The point is, available technology helps define multiple characteristics of an individual. There have been all kinds of studies done from the effects of Internet addiction, the science and psychology behind virtual work, and so on which, when it’s all compiled, paints pictures of certain user groups.

These younger adults (and kids) have grown up with heavy tech exposure, consuming a broad variety of content over the years – on the backend, this reveals what works and what doesn’t. Thanks to modern analytics and some direct input, those building and marketing technology can put this data to use to properly engage Gen Z users.

Tips to engage Gen Z users

Older generations have historically bitched about the perceived advantages of up-and-coming generations, often condemning them for the use of whatever technology is big at the time. While poking fun at the rampant use of memes, Snapchat, and Tik Tok can feel like a rite of passage for older folks, it leads to unnecessary discord. For business, this means everything from lost profits to less productivity.

So let’s look at some of what we know makes Gen Z users tick.

Use modern design elements. Just as older generations like to razz younger generations, the converse holds true as well. Being retro and ironic can be cool and edgy but looking like you didn’t put effort into your app makes you appear tone-deaf and probably deserving of some scrutiny. Truly, this is the case for just about any generation so make sure you stay up to date with today’s style.

Check the link from the last paragraph as we covered a handful of modern design elements from motion effects to responsive colors. It’s more than being “hip” as certain designs add to the fluidity of the UX which makes apps enjoyable to use, especially for this generation.

Make communications visual. As processing power increased, so did the ability to communicate with highly-visual mediums. This generation is used to getting their info and entertainment from digital elements that “move” such as video and GIFs so make sure to employ format when conveying information, whether it’s company training or a tutorial for a mobile game.

This generation was still young (or not around) when Netflix still delivered DVDs by mail. For them, accessing media has always been instant. As such, they will seek out the most entertaining way to learn something or be entertained. In short, the more video, GIFs, and memes you use, the better you’ll captivate your Gen Z user audience.

Offer in-app communication. When Myspace became a household name, so did some of the components that made the platform so appealing. The ability to direct message (among other features) other users opened the doors for digital socialization and networking on a scale that hadn’t been done before. Now, in-app communication is used at least as frequently (or more) than texting or phone calls.

Email is basically dead, except for official communications. As such, apps for both business and pleasure should have some method for users to contact each other in-app. Don’t make Gen Z users send emails unless it’s for something formal.

Add social sharing when applicable. No, you probably don’t want your business information being broadcast on Facebook or Twitter but sharing tools are certainly useful. Being able to share information with just a few taps is much easier for just about everyone. Plus, it’s something Gen Z is used to doing.

Users of all ages like to be able to share things that interest them on social media. Including sharing tools provides a convenient method for sharing information to other platforms without the hassle of copying text or sharing screenshots. Remember that Gen Z users use a variety of platforms – like Tik Tok, for example – to engage with others so make sure to build out sharing features when appropriate.

Make sure your app is fast. Almost every generation has become accustomed to being able to access information in an instant. While some of us can remember waiting for a dial-up modem to connect us to the web, this generation was born during a time when just about anything could be accessed in a snap.

Using modern development frameworks like React Native has multiple benefits for what we consider to be low-performance apps. Using this cross-platform framework not only allows you to develop for multiple platforms, but it also helps ensures that your app will perform reliably on just about any device. The more convenient and accessible your app is, the better you’ll engage with Gen Z users.

Add a scoring system. What makes Snapchat so great? Between the instant delivery of media, the ability to message other users, and the scoring system for using the platform regularly, it’s great entertainment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hER0Qp6QJNU

Though the above video discusses Millenials in the workplace, the discussion of the “dopamine release” from using technology is something to pay attention to. It’s why a lot of us open our phones regularly and why people will dump money into in-app purchases to progress in a mobile game. Progression in anything, no matter how trivial, gives us a little mental boost and drives us to further engage. A progression system is rewarding for anyone and it’s become an expectation for Gen Z users.

Blue Label Labs creates appeal for all users in our digital products

We don’t claim to understand everything about our younger counterparts but we’ve certainly been paying attention to how they use their apps. Through big-picture analysis of the market and focused testing, our solutions-oriented teams of designers and engineers develop prototypes that fit the mosaic of digital marketplaces. And this means Gen Z users too!

If you’re in the market to build an app with a certain appeal then you’ve come to the right place. Use the form here to get in touch and we’ll happy to discuss your project.

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