Trading encyclopedias for Google, VHS for online streaming and land lines for iPhones, millennials are a generation of simplicity, ease-of-use and access.
Millennials currently represent the largest portion of the American workforce. A recent study took a comprehensive look at them as “digital natives,” a term that refers to someone who was raised in a digital, media-saturated world. As we begin examining the hot topic of User Experience (UX), millennials are a great place to start.
The Nielsen Norman Group defines User Experience (UX) as “any touch point a user or customer has with a system, digital or not.” It’s obvious that millennials’ experiences with digital interfaces started earlier than their older colleagues in the workplace, but what unique perspective did it give them?
The research revealed that millennials are extremely confident in the workplace, as it relates to UX. User interfaces, since they can remember, were simple, intuitive and easy to figure out. Confidence, in the UX sense, has its pros and cons for millennials. While they’re not afraid to tackle an unfamiliar interface, they tend to do so with certainty that it will be immediately understood and they will instinctively “get it.” The study found that when that doesn’t happen, millennials tend to blame the interface design and assume there are problems, instead of working to figure it out.
The second significant takeaway from this study relates to millennials’ tendency (and need) to multi-task. The genesis of multi-tasking, for millennials, clearly stems from early exposure to various forms of media and screens, yet how does multi-tasking affect their user experience? For corporations, multi-tasking by employees can be helpful or harmful; it matters most to make the distinction between choosing to multi-task and multi-tasking ability when managing and mentoring millennials. Choosing to multitask is purposefully engaging in multiple activities at the same time, which could lead to inefficiencies. On the other hand, proficiently multitasking can be efficient if the multiple sources of information can be effectively processed during UX. The way in which multi-tasking, ultimately, impacts productivity depends on corporations' ability to understand their individual employees, in this category.
Here are a few other key takeaways from this enlightening study:
The bar is (too) high: When millennials were in high school and college, Google was king. It set a standard that all interfaces should be simple and direct. While their high level of confidence allows them to approach new user experiences willingly and openly, they are often intolerant of unexpected complexities in interface design.
They still prefer people to robots: In spite of the belief that millennials are increasingly unsocial as a result of their elevated interaction with technology, they still depend on people to solve problems. The study found that when confronted with issues, they quickly picked up the phone to ask for help.
Confidence has its risks: Millennials approach UX with confidence, even if the design seems complex. This high level of confidence can also cause them to be more error-prone.
Confidence – one of the most known characteristics of millennials – can be extremely valuable to organizations when examining how employees approach UX. For millennials, this high level of confidence certainly contributes to their success; they approach new design willingly, even when unfamiliar and when they don’t know, they aren’t afraid to ask. On the other hand, confidence can lead to unrealistic expectations and increased errors. How have confident, millennial users impacted your organization?