It is challenging to define Generation Z, the Internet Generation, but most agree that with a spending power of more than 100 billion dollars they are more influential than the Millennial generation. In order to reach Gen Z, how should digital designers improve their skills?

The digital design industry is working with brands that need to appeal to the two billion Gen Z-ers globally—a generation of digital natives who could swipe before they learned to walk. Digital design that once worked for Millennials, is now outdated for Gen Z-ers. The new generation is demanding something different. Developing brand messages, designs, and online experiences that engage these savvy kids and teens requires deep thinking and insight.

Here are some key take-outs for designing for Gen Z:

Psychology of Gen Z

Gen Z-ers, like Millennials, are technically proficient, but since they have been absorbed in it since birth, they are less fascinated by it as an unusual. They view tech as a crucial component, but they are careful in how they utilize it. Equally important, they are extremely skilled at filtering out online content or obstacles that keep them from getting to what they really want.

An important characteristic of them is their strong sense of self. The answers to almost any question are in the palm of their hands since they were born, so they don’t have to rely on others to achieve what they want. Gen Z-ers are independent and innovative – they achieve change through digital spaces and are fuelled by their experiences.

Example of mimicking the feel of analog media with the help of digital tools.

Photo: Courtesy of Kristyna Kulikova / @krstnklkv

Unexpected combinations

Gen Z-ers receive almost all information through digital media. No wonder there is a craving for tactile, analogous among that generation. Creatives among that generation mimic the feel of analog media with the help of digital tools. Digital images are “wrapped” in plastic foil, putting the effect of grain film, analog photography, crumpled and torn paper. All this indicates a longing for the tangible and the real.

Flexibility and fluidity

Generation Z likes to break down barriers, unlike other generations, there are almost no subcultures among Gen Z-ers. Uniqueness is no longer achievable by joining certain groups⁠—but by fluidity in one’s identity. They are open and diverse they feel they do not have one clearly defined role in life.

In design, everything is a matter of consistency and control. Generation Z changes the linear way of thinking. Brands will have to become flexible, visual identities modular, elements changeable. The brand refresh that will follow Gen Z trends will be unsustainable⁠—we will have to switch to a Circular design.

Visual identity for Gen-Z beauty brand, Youthforia

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Favourite design studio

Method of communication

Generation Z members are hypo-linked and overstimulated. Language that is individual and intimate is the only way you can break through a crowded digital environment. Communication that tries to sound smart and invasive is repulsive to them, it should be in its most filtered form, ie honest.

Tempo

The first generation born in the digital age, to which information is available 24/7 whose view is constantly flying from one screen to another. Their range of attention is the shortest so far. The result is that they decide faster than their predecessors if something is important and are not prone to brands that cannot keep up with their pace.

The best approach to designing is to use their language⁠—quickly and unpredictably. Fast-changing images, short videos, a visible point, vibrant color combinations. Traditional design elements and symbols are one big NO.



Author

Petra Laknar