Will you use the so-called digital transformation to make an impact on your corporate website? Are you preparing it for Generation Z, that is, the next generation decision makers? Their characteristics might surprise you. Here are some thoughts for you.
Many marketing managers I talk to are planning, or even in progress with, a refresh of their corporate websites. In most cases, it is about an upgrade to a modern look and feel. The shop window must be appealing. Not much happens to the content offering, structure, the way it is presented, or to the level of service offered to website visitors.
I would say that most websites are very linear, almost like linear TV, where someone else has decided what you should see and when. Many times, the information you are looking for is well hidden, deep down in the website structure. Click by click, you pass pages with mostly irrelevant images that sometimes are supposed to convey feelings. In my case, this feeling is usually stress, since I have a task to solve and it takes too long time.
Look at the trending websites of today and give it a thought. Are they helping you to solve your problem? Are they adapted to the way future decision makers expect to work? Are they adapted to smartphones? Are they reflecting the outside world or your internal world? You should ask all these questions and many more before changing.
The next generation decision makers are Generation Z. There is no clear definition of age but some researchers claim that the Z-people are born in the years 1995-2000 until 2019. The real common denominator is their behaviour. A few characteristics according to anthropologist Katarina Graffman, are:
- Multitasking, the ability to keep up to 6 parallel working streams ongoing simultaneously. Online gaming has contributed to this capability. A project will not be executed from start to finish, but rather be processed in parallel with other projects at own will.
- YouTube is the preferred search engine. Video content becomes the main format for information.
- The digital identity is greater than their real identity. Will they ever fill in forms on websites?
- They have lost confidence in formal authority like corporations. They choose which individual to trust and use their own community as an echo chamber for decisions.
- They are used to interact with people worldwide through the internet. Interaction to help each other is key.
- Their definitions of things, like media, differs from previous generations.
If we regard the characteristics as future website user traits and combine these with digital transformation and a technology trend like cloud solutions, we might get a requirement specification containing at least the following:
- A website is a combination of functionality delivered by different data centers (cloud) and content provided by multiple sources inside and outside an organisation. You do not control everything up front.
- The Content Management System (CMS) must be able to bring in content from multiple sources and be intelligent enough to serve this content based on user preferences.
- The website should deliver multiple streams of content simultaneously (remember the multitasking capability).
- Important content should be in video format first and text second.
- Users should be able to interact with the website, website owner, and other users.
- Smartphone formats are key (at least until a new favourite device is invented).
In short, it is about serving multiple streams of interactive information simultaneously. What will be served in terms of functions and content is not only a publisher’s decision but equally based on user decisions. It is like an online game, but without the element of competition. Is your organisation prepared for this?
Now, this is just food for thought. You could stretch the thinking even further and say that the self-contained type of website must disappear and content will float freely on the internet. Pieces of content will be combined into useful information based on user request. This might be a little bit ‘out there’ and in the far future. But, to start with you can look at your website with the outside eyes and ask yourself; how do we make life easier for our friends out there?
What do you think?