Posted May 11 by Lukas Horak
May 11 by Lukas Horak

Why your web or app is not selling to Millennials? (part1)

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This generation is young, well educated and informed, and they have trillions to spend on the right products because they are not yet bogged down by mortgages or children. You cannot discount their importance for your business!

The millennial generation is the largest online audience in the world with 92 million users and has a greater purchasing power than any other generation. Their behavior in the online world changes the world economy, and forces organizations to adapt the business to their demands and expectations.

Ensuring an enjoyable user experience for Millennials and meeting their expectations is not just for their enjoyment. It is a necessity for the healthy profits of any business that operates in the online world. Otherwise, it may be very easy for you to miss out on the opportunity to gear your business towards this important market.

Surveys confirm that Millennials lose patience very quickly and are extremely confident in using digital interfaces. If a website does not function the way they expect, they believe it is broken or not worth their effort. Also, they are very critical and can very quickly recognize whether the site is unprofessional or obsolete. If your product or website’s graphical interface is not easy to understand, Millennials will rarely blame themselves, unlike older users who are mostly looking for a fault within their use, Millennials will criticize your GUI, your company, or your designer. This can, of course, have a very negative impact on your business, and at best you will only make a bad first impression.
In the worst case, they will immediately leave the website or close the mobile app and find an alternative solution. At this point, you are losing a potential customer because millennials are particularly good at searching for alternatives.

1. General design principles to keep in mind when designing for Millennials


An unprofessional design can greatly reduce the credibility of your brand

An unprofessional look at your website or mobile app and unclear information about your company can easily provoke mistrust with millennials. Millennials have certain expectations for a trusted source.

“I saw an ad for a product on Facebook that intrigued me. But when I clicked on the link, I found the website confusing and I was worried it was not a legitimate business based on the ugly design and broken links. Needless to say, I did not purchase the product.” Ryan, 29

Improving the design of your website and layout is one of the easiest ways to increase the credibility of your organization. Increase your credibility easily with good first impressions, understandable and easy-to-find information, or by incorporating social proof.

What to do: 

  • Explain in a clear way what your organization is doing and how you help your customers. Do not expect them to know anything about you.
  • Find a web site and a mobile app for professionals with a proven portfolio. The first impression is critically important.
  • Try to provide users with relevant and up-to-date content and communicate in a transparent manner.
  • Provide available contact information and try to make it available to customers as much as possible.
  • Avoid an excessive amount of promotional content and sales language.
  • Incorporate social evidence into your site.

Millennials are virtually allergic to the use of dark patterns

When they browse web pages or use mobile apps, they do not read every single word. They often skip long passages of texts and proceed based on specific assumptions (more about long texts in chapter XYZ ...). Some companies, however, are trying to use this and adjust their interface so that users expect different results from individual interactions than those that are presented. These methods are called “dark patterns.” Millennials are literally allergic to dark patterns. If they happen to feel that you are trying to deceive them, they leave the website or close the mobile app immediately.

“When I see text that spans the entire width of my screen, there is very little chance I will read it.” Adrian, 26

The Roach Motels method can serve as a classic example, where, the mobile app allows you to subscribe with a single click, but to unsubscribe is almost impossible, and it often works only after contacting the help desk. Another example of a dark pattern may be an action created just before the user leaves the site by popping up an ad with text such as “Before you go ...” or “Do not miss ...“. Pop-up windows are the # 1 most hated advertising method.

What to do: 

  • Avoid using any dark patterns.
  • Be straightforward with your language and set the right expectations, do not present one thing and do another.
  • Avoid tricking people into providing you their email address but rather provide them with some valuable content or reward in exchange for their email.

Do not change interactions that Millennials are already familiar with

Nielsen & Norman studies confirmed that Millennials are reluctant to learn new ways of interacting with websites and apps and dislike the overt use of animations that have no purpose and are only perceived to delay their task. This is in direct contrast with the interfaces teenagers enjoy, which are filled with animations and minimal text. If a graphical interface or web page uses non-standard ways of interacting and these interactions delay them, Millennials lose patience very quickly.

The animation should be functional above all other reasons for its use. Micro-animations fit this bill, they are small animations that support the users by giving them visual feedback and displaying changes more clearly. Micro-animations and micro-interactions are often used to enhance user experience and possibly explain a lot without using a single word.

What to do:

  • Avoid animations that keep users away from completing a task. 
  • Slow animations make users believe the entire system is slow, which can discourage them from using it.
  • Micro-interactions help users better understand the status of individual objects (buttons, form fields, icons, etc).
  • Macro-interactions can help users understand the context and continuity of the graphical interface between multiple objects (transition between pages, linking individual elements, etc).

Do not experiment with navigation

Navigation is used to get users to the necessary sections and subsections of your website or mobile app. Most Millennials are used to seeing navigation on the top or left side of the site. Experimenting with placement in unusual places can be very confusing and costly when it does not go right.

“A website’s navigation should be clear and intuitive. If there is something that is difficult to find, I lose trust in the website.” Simon, 22

The use of non-traditional ways of navigation is also not recommended. No one is interested in looking for navigation or finding out how it works. Millennials navigate websites and mobile applications with ease and speed. They hate to spend time figuring out how the interface works. As we already mentioned, they would rather go and look for an alternative.

What to do:

  • Do not create an unusual way of navigating.
  • Avoid placing navigating in unusual locations on your website.
  • Do not slow down users by using overtly interactive elements in your navigation.
  • Do not try to create “nice” or “fancy” navigation.
  • When using side navigation, use the left side. The right side is often associated with advertising content, and users have learned not to look there.

Millennials prefer less color and duller tones instead of bright colors

As we have already mentioned, Millennials enjoy simple and minimalist graphical interfaces, and this goes hand in hand with color. Although the color perception is very subjective, surveys have confirmed that Millennials do not like the use of large amounts of color and prefer colors that are not too bright.

“App design is very similar to your choices of clothes. If you combine too many colors, it doesn’t look good.” Mirabell, 27

The colors on your website or mobile app should fit with your brand. Avoid using colors that are too bright and avoid using excessive amounts of colors. Using 2-3 carefully chosen colors should be enough.

What to do:

  • Avoid using lots of colors.
  • If possible, use dull or subtle color tones.
  • Do not use distinctive color backgrounds that divert attention from the content and important graphical elements.
  • Color contrast is what gives the impact and readability of the elements. Use contrasting visuals to make a particular element stand out.

2. Working with text


Millennials do not like reading long texts

Millennials do not read word for word, and when they come across an interface full of text, they often struggle to finish reading even just the first sentence and skip through most of the passages or leave the site entirely. Millennials process content much better if there is less text and other visual elements in the graphical interface.

“I love websites where I can get the point without having to read too much text.”
Adam, 37

A very good solution when designing for Millennials, is to use “whitespace”, design techniques that place fewer elements on the screen, and use empty space as an active element. This will give the users the ability to view all the important information and also help them better scan the content. Scanning is exactly what millennials do when consuming digital content. A simple interface does not mean it is uninteresting.

What to do:

  • Place fewer elements in the graphical interface to avoid information overload.
  • Try to use less text and provide more detailed information on subpages.
  • Use blank areas as an active element. Use whitespace to draw attention to an element. By surrounding an element with white space, you are pointing out the element.
  • Depend on the content hierarchy where the important information is bigger and more pronounced.

Use bigger and modern fonts

Millennials like the use of large fonts that look modern. In particular, when it comes to titles or subtitles of the site. Avoid the use of small fonts where you need to squint to read anything at all.

“If you use big font, instead of big blocks of text, there is a big chance I will actually read it.” Lucas, 34

Additionally, we have already remarked that the use of a large amount of text is inappropriate for this target group that often does not read such information. The combination of small fonts and large text paragraphs can have a very negative impact on your business.

What to do:

  • Use modern fonts for title and subtitles. You can easily get inspired by typing the phrase “best font of 2018" in your search engine.
  • Use large font size, so users do not need to focus hard to find the necessary information.
  • Avoid using inappropriate fonts, such as “comic sans,” if you do not create a comic product or service, as it looks childish.

Be purposeful with the tone of your voice

Set the tone of your voice for the target audience you want to reach. Millennials differ from teenagers or older generations. If you use a tone that suits the teenager, the millennial will feel it sounds childish. If your organization does not speak the same language as the Millennials, they will feel alienated.

Use the words you find in the Millennials’ dictionary to capture and sustain them. They prefer interactivity, originality, attention, or transparency, more than any other tested group. Avoid using slang and complex words to make the text clearer to understand. Not everyone understands the terminology you use internally. When in doubt, use KISS - Keep It Stupid Simple!

What to do:

  • Millennials recognize educational content, so the actionable content that’s educational is an attractive topic and worthwhile reading to them.
  • They respond harshly to sugar-coated words and prefer a straightforward and honest approach to a serious message.
  • It’s not cool to say you are cool. The tone of voice should fit your organization’s personality.
  • Do not forget about the title and description in the search engines, according to which millennials also decide whether they will visit your website at all.
  • Millennials are impatient, so try to write briefly and simply.

Format text for easier reading

As we have already written, Millennials are moving through interfaces quickly and only scan the texts for information that is pertinent to their task, so it’s important to make the information easier to consume. The easier it is to read, the more likely your user is to read it. Using design principles such as nesting, highlighting, interruption will help simplify information overload and allow for easier absorption and retention of the displayed information.

Highlighting or bolding is a way to tell your user what information is important. However, beware of highlighting too much. If you are highlighting more than 10% of your text, then it defeats the purpose because you are not focusing on anything

What to do: 

  • Break the long texts with headlines, subtitles, quotes, bullets, and summaries of longer articles to make it easier to consume.
  • Organize text with bullets and indentations to allow users to absorb information more quickly.
  • Apply emphasis on certain text and reinforce the relationship of different points.
  • Use contrasting visuals to make a particular element stand out. Color contrast is what gives the impact and readability of the elements to the reader.
  • Use repetition. It is the repetition of affirmation that leads to belief. The most obvious example of repetition is a group of bullet points.

Millennials have learned that search often provides them with better information in a quicker way

If Millennials get lost on a website or have a clear idea of what they are looking for, they often use the search function instead of crawling the site. Let’s remember that most Millennials grew up during the Google era.

If your site is more complex, give users the ability to search. In addition to being able to find the information they need, you can get interesting data about your users. Also, make sure that the search box follows all the visual principles that Millennials are used to.

What to do:

  • Place the search box at the top of the page. Ideally in the right upper corner, where Millennials are looking for it.
  • Use a magnifying glass icon near the search box for easy recognition.
  • Avoid a hidden search field that is more difficult to recognize.
  • For mobile devices, think of a sufficient search box size optimized for comfortable finger click.

3. Selling to Millennials


Millennials love to solve their problems

The older generations like to discuss their problems with a “real living” person, or even meet personally to solve a problem, as they do not feel as confident in the digital world as the Millennials. The availability of a phone number or an option to arrange a meeting are not the primary tools necessary to please Millennials, that is not how they solve their problems.

“I hate it when I have to talk to someone on the phone. I want to be able to solve my problem when I am traveling or standing in line. Give me a good FAQs section and I will never need to contact you!” George, 24

Millennials prefer to solve their problems via live chat, email, or FAQs section. They do not need to communicate with a physical person and rarely solve problems through a phone conversation. They need tools to help them solve their problems quickly. If they do not, they will lose patience very quickly and find an alternative service or product through a search engine like Google.

What to do:

  • Give them a customer support section with an option to contact the help desk via email, live chat or offer a modern chatbot solution.
  • Increase engagement with video tutorials or other interactive content.
  • If your service or product is more complex, work with a clear and easy to filter FAQs section. Simple questions and answers are often more comprehensible than complex texts.

Millennials are very sensitive to information about price. Do not keep it from them.

Millennials are very sensitive to the price and it is an important decision factor for them. If they are not able to get to the product’s price quickly, they often suspect it to be too high. Also, hiding prices is untrustworthy. Do not make your users look for a price and do not send them on a clicking journey in search of a price until they reach the product detail page. Millennials want to see the prices of the products when they first encounter the product.

“When I shop online, I shop by price. I hate it when I cannot immediately see the price. Do not force me to put it in the basket to know how much it is, I will leave immediately.” Evan, 25

Millennials often compare the product to multiple sites. If you have a good offer for them, make sure you let them know about it. Or, highlight other benefits your organization has in comparison to its competitors.

What to do:

  • Provide price information right away for a basic product or SaaS services.
  • For online transactions, show the full prices at the beginning of the purchase process, including the fees or taxes.
  • Highlight benefits such as free delivery, good rating or satisfied customers, better pricing, and more.
  • Millennials scan the page very well for words such as sale, discount, special, reduced and the like. Highlights specials with a contrasting color, bigger font or at least bold text. Ideally, use all techniques at the same time.

Millennials want to see your business on their smartphone

More than 90% of Millennials admit to having constant access to their smartphone, 80% check their smartphones right after they wake up, and 78% of them spend more than two hours a day chatting, surfing the Internet, making calls, sending voice messages, tweeting. What’s more important, some of the time they spend on their smartphone, they are shopping, banking or engaging in other business contacts online.

“I am always on the go, and when I am waiting in line for my lunch, I want to be able to take some items off of my ever-growing list, such as paying a bill or ordering a present for my girlfriend’s birthday.” Adam, 35

Companies that ignore the potential of mobile devices are losing out on enormous business opportunities. Young users do not just expect it, they require it. If you do not have a mobile site or a mobile app, they consider you obsolete and are not interested in your business.

What to do:

  • Optimize your website for mobile devices.
  • Think about the potential of a mobile app for your business.
  • Make sure your mobile website or mobile app is running fast.
  • Find experts with extensive experience in UX design and visual design for mobile devices.
  • Avoid pop-ups and ads that appear before you open the required content. Know that they belong among the Dark Patterns that the Millennials hate (we will talk about them later).
  • Millennials still prefer to complete more complex tasks on a computer with greater screen resolution, so don’t forget about providing a desktop and/or laptop version.

Visit to better understand why your web or app is not selling to millennials.

Roman Kalina
Lukas is Founder & CEO of design agency PLATFORM. Since 2001 he has been working hard on delivering award-winning digital experiences for clients such as Spotify, LG, Avon, BMW, Mattel Inc, etc.