Strategy Planning

How Outdated Websites are Losing Engagement with Young Internet Users

Average  to read article
5 min.

Your website is being judged! Of course, we all want plenty of eyes on our content. However, if that content is outdated, chances are it's being scrutinized by today's browsers and young internet users. In fact, it typically takes the average consumer three seconds to click away according to Google market analytics. Young web users have no time for slow-loading pages or confusing navigation.

This generation of Millennials and Gen Z are internet natives. Thus, they were born into technology, and they expect a smooth experience. As any educator who has watched their teenagers scroll through dozens of browser tabs knows, this generation is fluent in technology. Dynamic websites must learn to speak the language if they are to succeed with young internet users today. That includes both students and young parents. 

Let's take a closer look at the pitfalls of outdated websites when it comes to garnering engagement from young consumers.

Who are The Millennials? Who are The Zoomers? What is Your Core Demographic?

The first step to creating a successful website is identifying who your core audience is. Spoiler alert; it might not be who you think! 

Most websites cater to an older demographic. While this audience is certainly important, the majority of internet users are not comprised of an older audience. Your key users are Millennials and Zoomers. Who are these mysterious users? Experts define the average web user as "people who have been alive since the web first reached a critical mass... Many designers look to them for usability testing and when assessing whether their work serves the audience's needs."

This unique subset is typically classified as young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 and 25 to 35. Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000, while older Gen Z followed just behind. They're a dynamic, tech-savvy generation who not only embraces change but is open to innovation. 

This group is constantly learning. Effective web designers can be a partner in growth by engaging younger consumers with their content.

Web Elements: Form vs. Function

When it comes to building an engaging platform, it's important not to stray too far into pandering to a younger demographic. Millennials and older Gen Z present a unique consumer base. They aren't worried about taking a quiz to find out what type of pasta suits their personality type, and they aren't playing point-and-click games all day either.

In fact, today's young web users prefer functionality to interactivity. Each element on your website should serve a purpose. Better yet, elements should make your page more efficient, save time, and create a user-friendly experience.

We all know that social media grew alongside the Millennial generation. Content sharing has since become a major driving force of engagement among today's web browsers. When taking a closer look at elements of design that will have a positive impact on your click-to-conversion rate, social media buttons cannot be underrated.

Further, it's important to ensure these pages are regularly updated with unique content that fits each platform (Instagram vs. Facebook vs. Twitter). As the modern age grows more digital, young internet users have not lost the need for a personal connection. A robust social media presence allows web designers to engage their audience on this level by leveraging user reviews, interacting via FAQ's, liking and following a close-focused network of peers, and driving their presence as a leader within their industry.

Compatibility Matters for Young Internet Users

Alongside growing up in the digital age, most Millennials were raised in the mobile era. We're seeing a steady flux in web browsing from home computers vs. browsing via mobile devices. If your website is not iOS and Android compatible, you may be losing as many as 4.32 billion smartphone browsers! In fact, studies indicate that approximately 53% of today's users browse the web via mobile devices. For example, Millennial and Gen Z parents prefer to check grades, receive messages, report absences, and register for parent-teacher conferences on their mobile devices. This is viewed as a convenient time-saver and a big win for web design.

Of course, compatibility isn't simply a matter of fast-loading pages, clickable links, and mobile features. An often-overlooked aspect of successful web design is the aesthetic build of your content. Many platforms allow you to view your page in a mobile format to ensure all elements align. Have you ever opened a website on your phone only to discover the banner is cut off and the navigation bars are impossible to find? This web design fail is the result of not checking the mobile layout.

Today's browsers prefer a sleek, minimalistic look with easy and clear accessibility. They want to get to what they're looking for quickly and efficiently. If poor mobile compatibility interferes with functionality, chances are, they're clicking off!

Responsive Design Meets the Needs of Young Internet Users

This is where the principle of responsive design comes in. Responsive web design (RWD), as defined by the Nielsen Norman Group, "is a web development approach that creates dynamic changes to the appearance of a website, depending on the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it." This is a big shift from adaptive design, which required a different layout depending on the device used to view content. Sleek uniformity dominates the web design arena when it comes to engagement.

Google's Mobile-First Indexing is taking the need for RWD to new heights and rapidly becoming the standard measure for effective SEO. With Google's new indexing system, only the content of the mobile version of the website will be crawled by Google and visible in organic search results. This is how users find your website when you input keywords and search engine terms. Make sure your content is ranking well and optimized for mobile browsing.

Deliver Value

Garnering an in-depth knowledge of your audience will empower your web design success. After all, we want our users to get the most value from the content they interact with. Ultimately, driving engagement is an ever-evolving strategy that grows with each new generation of internet users. Be sure that your website is up to the challenge. Check out ways other web projects have built effective content. For research-driven support, custom-tailored to your goals and projects, reach out to our expert team.

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