UX and Gen Y

by Richard C. Stimac

I’m currently researching Gen Y in the workplace with an emphasis on the UK, Scandinavia, and Europe in general. My client is a Swedish-based change consultant company specializing in helping companies better manage their Gen Y.

This job got me thinking about Gen Y and UX. What does Gen Y want in their design?

  • Let me figure it out: Gen Y is not averse to sites that are not completely self-explanatory. They will go for trial and error, maybe even researching how to use the site. Older persons want things clear, step-by-step. Their frustration level is much lower than Gen Y.
  • Optional Help: Many complicated web sites or applications automatically come up with a tutorial when first accessing them. Gen Y wants this to be an option, not a given. It’s almost an insult for them, as if the designers assumed that this generation was too dumb to figure it out on their own.
  • Real-time on-line help: Older persons still like to talk to someone on a phone, be it land-line or mobile. Gen Y also wants quick customer service, but texting or even skypeing are preferred. The attitude is, if I’m already on one device, why use a different device?
  • Fun: Gen Y wants fun, hence gamification, even at work. Utility is important, but Gen Y grew up in an age of dynamic innovation. Lots of people make lots of very functional products. That’s not a winner. Make it functional and fun. That’s a winner.

Remember that even experienced UX experts will only know the Gen Y perspective indirectly through research. Only a Gen Y sees the world as a Gen Y sees the world. Test with them, but also bring them onto your teams as content-area-experts.

Oh, and make being a UX team member fun.