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How to Design Your Website for Generation Z (+ Great Theme Examples)

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Generation Z can’t remember a time before the internet. Born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, they’re true digital natives—the first generation to grow up knowing that a world of information is available at the click of a button or swipe of a screen. 

And they’re powerful. With this generation expected to account for 40% of all consumers as soon as 2020, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Plus, now holding $44 billion in buying power, it’s clear that their finances have gone way beyond pocket money. As their influence and financial prowess continue to grow while they progress through working life, attracting and maintaining the attention of this key group can make or break your business. 

attracting and maintaining the attention of this key group can make or break your business

Therefore, if you’re looking to set up or update your WordPress site by selecting a template from ThemeForest, follow these key tips to make sure you’re doing everything you can to appeal to this young yet influential generation. 

1. Keep It Simple

Growing up with technology means Gen Z are used to sifting through the noise to find the information most relevant to them. And with that, attention spans are decreasing—Gen Z have an attention span of just 8 seconds versus millennials’ 12 seconds. They’re hungry for information, so make sure your user experience is simple and you don’t bombard them with unnecessary content. 

Simple WordPress Theme: The Simple - A Simple Multi-Purpose Business Theme 

The clue’s in the name—this WordPress theme is as simple as it gets! With more than 30 demos, you can easily see what your site might look like once you’ve added your content, plus the visually appealing fullscreen pages give the template a modern feel.

Simple WordPress Theme The Simple - A Simple Multi-Purpose Business Theme
Simple WordPress Theme: The Simple - A Simple Multi-Purpose Business Theme 

2. Quality Is More Than a ‘Nice to Have’

55% of Gen Zs won’t go more than five hours without internet access—and 27% won’t go more than one. With figures like that, it’s fair to say they’re going to be your harshest critics. 

You’d just need to briefly see the internet history of a typical Gen Z to see how many sites they typically visit in a single day. For your site to stand any chance of getting noticed, you have to make sure it’s designed to the quality they’re used to. 

Professional, Quality Theme: Argenta - Creative Multipurpose WordPress Theme 

Although ThemeForest is packed with high-quality WordPress themes, the Argenta theme regularly scores five stars for not only great code quality but also excellent customer support. 

Argenta - Creative Multipurpose WordPress Theme
Argenta - Creative Multipurpose WordPress Theme 

3. Fast Loading Speeds 

Of course, in a world where we’re all used to getting information when and where we want it, fast loading speeds are essential if you want to keep people’s eyes on your products. In fact, as mentioned in my recent article, every second counts as the probability of bounce increases by a staggering 32% as page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds

A generation used to constant information will not respond well to slow-performing websites—after all, they’re not going to remember the days of painstakingly slow dial-up internet. 

Fast Loading WordPress Theme: Light & Bold - Speed-Focused WordPress Theme

Again, the vast majority of WordPress themes are optimized for fast loading time, but this Light & Bold theme places speed front and center. 

Light  Bold - Speed-Focused WordPress Theme
Light & Bold - Speed-Focused WordPress Theme

4. No Barriers to Content 

Continuing the theme of limited time and attention, Gen Z list pop-up forms as their top frustration within websites. Of course, for the website in question, it can be a valuable way to capture data, but it can be at the cost of upping your bounce rate and losing potential customers. 

Check out our video tutorial on best practices for using pop-ups:

Easy User Experience WordPress Theme: Adorn - Minimal WooCommerce Theme

Rather than immediately putting your potential customers off with clunky data captures, choosing a theme which cleanly presents content in an immediately digestible format is far more likely to appeal to Gen Z. Adding an option to sign up for a newsletter without blocking the user experience can be a good compromise. 

Adorn - Minimal WooCommerce Theme
Adorn - Minimal WooCommerce Theme

5. Make It Personal 

Despite wanting to remove barriers to a streamlined user experience, Gen Z are willing to trade some of their personal information to gain a more personalized user experience. In fact, 67% of Millenials and Gen Z expect offers that are personalized to them—a full 16% higher than Gen X (those born between 1961 and 1981). 

You can appeal to this need for personal content by installing free plugins like Advanced Personalization. It’s super easy to use and doesn’t require any coding skills to do so.  

Advanced Personalization
Advanced Personalization free plugin for WordPress

6. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Although research suggests that Gen Z enjoy visiting physical stores, they are savvy customers, and 67% say they will search for products online before they make a purchase. What’s more, 6 in 10 Gen Zs have purchased on their mobile within the last month. 

Whether they’re researching or buying via mobile, you need to make sure your website is fully responsive to encourage them to part with their funds through your site rather than losing out to a competitor. It’s essential to integrate your site with WordPress’s WooCommerce plugin if you want to enable your users to buy directly from your site. 

Mobile WordPress Theme: Puca - Optimized Mobile WooCommerce Theme

Designed with mobile in mind, this WordPress theme will provide a top-notch user experience for any customer who wants to research your product via their smartphone. It’s also fully integrated with WooCommerce to help users purchase quickly and simply. 

Puca - Optimized Mobile WooCommerce Theme
Puca - Optimized Mobile WooCommerce Theme

7. Be Aware of Trends

Ever heard of Millennial Pink? It took social media by storm a few years ago, covering picture-perfect Instagram posts and other online content in a rose-colored hue. Well, today it’s officially been replaced by a cheery color dubbed Gen-Z Yellow. 

Of course, you need to make sure your site reflects your overarching brand, but it’s worth paying attention to design fashions to see if you can incorporate them in imagery or otherwise. With some going so far as to suggest Gen Z spend 10 hours a day engaging with online content, they’ll be au fait with trends, and you want to make sure you can follow suit. 

Colorful WordPress Theme: North - Responsive WooCommerce Theme

Although most templates from ThemeForest offer the potential to amend color schemes, the clean and simple North WordPress theme really makes the most of color to bring a clean, clear, and modern theme. With pops of color like this, you could amend hues as fashions come and go.

North - Responsive WooCommerce Theme
North - Responsive WooCommerce Theme

8. Make It Accessible 

This is essential no matter the generation, but with Gen Z being the most diverse demographic yet, you must do everything you can to make sure everyone can use it. Not only is it the right thing to do, but making your site accessible to all will also help to increase your potential number of customers, plus boost your SEO. 

For advice on making your website as accessible as possible, you can read WordPress’s accessibility guidelines here. You can also test how accessible your site is, using tools like this one from the Bureau of Internet Accessibility. You can also read more about accessibility in my recent article. 

Accessible WordPress Theme: Ginger – Restaurant WordPress Theme

Again, there are many options to choose from, but this theme lists the option for adding an accessible image lightbox as one of its key features. It means alt tags can be added to image galleries to ensure everyone can hear image descriptions if they are visually impaired (alt tags also help with SEO).

Ginger  Restaurant WordPress Theme
Ginger – Restaurant WordPress Theme

9. Look Beyond the Bottom Line

Gen Z want to do good. Around 60% say they want to have a job that makes the world a better place—plus, 82% say social responsibility is an important characteristic of their favorite brands. Many believe this widespread philanthropy was born due to Gen Z growing up as social media and instant messaging made political, social, and environmental strife impossible to ignore. 

Whether it’s donating a portion of your profits to charity, or even offering consumers the chance to donate to a crowdfunding campaign, thinking beyond the bottom line is certainly appealing to this young generation. 

Crowdfunding WordPress Theme: Green Nature - Environmental / Nonprofit WordPress

Whether you’re trying to launch a business or a not-for-profit, there are many options out there to integrate crowdfunding as part of your site. Green Nature allows space for lots of impactful imagery while trying to encourage people to donate. 

Green Nature - Environmental  Nonprofit WordPress
Green Nature - Environmental / Nonprofit WordPress

10. Don’t Patronize 

This is a hyper-aware generation, with 84% saying they’re interested in current affairs, world affairs, politics, etc. This is a generation not to be patronized, so you want to avoid doing so in any aspect of your website—whether via copywriting, the color scheme and branding, or even the overall messaging. 

Being authentic and not hiding behind tired marketing messages or design is essential when considering your web design. 

Authentic WordPress Theme: Authentic - Lifestyle Blog & Magazine WordPress Theme

This no-fuss template includes 13 demos which are all very different, so you can pick one that is most relevant to you. It’s integrated with WooCommerce, SEO-friendly, and highly customizable. 

Authentic - Lifestyle Blog  Magazine WordPress Theme
Authentic - Lifestyle Blog & Magazine WordPress Theme 

Ready, Set, Go!

Of course, it’s impossible to paint an entire generation with the same brush—everyone is different, and what will work for one individual may not be as important to the next. However, with so much research out there, it can be helpful to think about how you can best cater for Gen Z within your web design! 

If you’re still searching for the perfect template, head on over to ThemeForest to find just what you’re looking for! If you’re still looking for advice, check out these suggestions:


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