A couple weeks ago I was getting coffee with a friend at one of our favorite coffee shops in San Francisco. It had been a while since we’d seen each other, so we were catching up on everything that’s been going on in our lives, work, family, etc.
During our conversation, my friend mentioned that she was recently at a tech event in the city, and she overheard someone say that millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce.
While that’s not a surprise, the idea that millennials are now becoming the largest generation really stuck with me after hearing her mention it. As a millennial myself, I started to think about how technology and cultural changes have influenced and entirely changed every aspect of our lives, from the way we communicate, socialize, shop, to how we learn, work and find purpose. Whether it’s laptops, Google, Facebook, or the iPhone, we are the first generation that has grown up with many of the products we can’t live without today. And we may not like to admit it, but these products have influenced the way we think, act, and make decisions.
I recently had the chance to develop a brand new experience for an early stage finance mobile app, which simplifies and manages your accounts, subscriptions, and spending habits. While doing some research and thinking through the user experience, I was reminded of the conversation I had with my friend.
If millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, then they are also the generation in their prime spending years. That may seem really obvious, but it means financial services and technology need to make a big shift in how financial products are designed. Millennials have a different approach to everything in life, including how they manage their finances. And when designing any fin-tech product, it’s important to understand how millennials use and think about technology because they are the target audience you need to be designing for.
After spending some time thinking about this problem, I came up with three important principles when designing fin-tech products for millennials. This list is specifically for fin-tech, but these principles can certainly be applied when designing almost any product.
Design for mobile first
Today, more and more people are choosing mobile over other platforms, and about one in five millennials exclusively use their phones when doing anything online.
Yet there are still so many products out there that are not designed specifically for mobile experiences. It’s never a good idea to design for the web and then try to squeeze everything into a small mobile screen. You need to take time to think about how people actually use their phones, and how that experience is different from using a laptop.
When designing for mobile, there is obviously a lot less space to work with on the screen. Only show the most important information and get rid of any information that’s not necessary for users to achieve whatever they are trying to accomplish with the app.
You may even need to break up information or an interaction over a series of screens. Just remember to give the right information at the right time that aligns with what users need and expect out of the product.
Keep it simple and easy
While knowing how to manage your finances is one of the most important skills you need in life, the truth is many millennials haven’t made it a priority, don’t know how to do it, and don’t know where to start. Because of this, it’s important to make finance apps simple and easy to understand.
For many millennials, when it comes to their finances they want to keep it simple. They don’t want to deal with creating and managing budgets for a bunch of different categories. All they want to know is how much money they are able to spend after the bills and other essentials are paid for.
When you know people’s needs, goals, and motivations, you can simplify the user experience to give them just the right amount of information for what they really want and need from the product.
Pay attention to the details
With any fin-tech product, it’s important to build trust and credibility right off the bat. You can do that by paying attention to all the little details and make sure you are instilling confidence in the users at every step in the user experience.
Pay attention to the colors you use, the visual aesthetic, your copy, how you handle empty states, as well as success and errors states. This will not only make users feel comfortable throughout the entire experience, but it will also create the perception that your app is credible and an authority in the space. Don’t slip up on the details, because it will give users a reason to doubt your product and they’ll end up deciding to use a competitor’s product.
It’s no surprise that people are drawn to beautiful things. But research has actually shown that people find products and services more trustworthy when the design is visually appealing. Elegant design makes people feel good, and in turn, makes them feel better about using the service.
So when designing for millennials, it’s important to keep the design clean, visually appealing, and to stay up to date with the latest design trends. Millennials notice when apps don’t have good visual design and look a bit outdated. And when it comes to fin-tech products, visual design is crucial for building trust and credibility.
Bringing it all together
When designing any product, the most important thing you need to know is who you are designing for. As generations pass, new technology, behaviors, and patterns emerge. But as long as you understand people’s fundamental needs, goals, and motivations, you’ll be able to design and build products people trust, understand, and want to use.