I recently worked with the Royal Academy of Engineering - a charity that connects leaders in engineering and technology for public benefit. Research shows that many young people (52%) “probably or definitely” do not want to become an engineer. This problem is a biggie - inspiring the next generation to become engineers.

Starting this project, I was well aware that I did not fall into the target user category. As a member of the Millennial generation, I was conscious of avoiding overzealous attempts to appear too trendy or unrelatable to the younger generation. Generation Z (Gen Z), born roughly between 1995 and the early 2010s, is a generation characterised by their digital know-how and distinct preferences. Designing for their ever-evolving digital landscape presents a unique set of challenges.

I wanted to make them feel that the site was tailored specifically for them. I started looking at what digital products Gen Z are using. Unsurprisingly social media products such as TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat all came out on top. I didn’t stop there. I looked at brands that were also aiming to appeal to the same Gen Z audience. Finding out that 90% of 16 to 24-year-olds opt for streaming services over traditional TV channels led me to look at brands such as the newly designed HBO Max and ITVx products. Both are hoping to appeal to the same demographic.

Analysing the colour palettes and typography of these well-established brands provided me with valuable insights. I got an understanding of what genuinely resonates with the Gen Z audience. I translated these insights into pixels on a Figma art board.

TIE colour improvment
We tweaked the brand colours to be more vibrant in digital formats and to align with what young people were looking for

I still felt like there was more to learn so I attended a webinar called ‘How Should You Market to a Gen Z Audience?’ This gave me invaluable insights into the thinking of the Gen Z demographic. I discovered that categorising them as a homogenous group is ineffective. They have diverse perspectives and opinions and they possess a discerning ability to detect disingenuous content. The overarching lesson is to remain genuine and authentic, with Nike consistently emerging as a notable exemplar in this regard.

Armed with this newfound understanding, I then crafted a more refined design for the visual assets. A striking high-contrast colour palette with bold typography, with a clean straightforward design layout structure.

Ingenia style
Colour palette and typographic treatment for Ingenia

While getting user feedback is crucial in any project, it was really important this time. So we sent our user researcher back to school! I was really worried that the students would think the design was trying too hard to be trendy.

I was relieved that they instead felt like it was something for them. They said things like ‘It looks great’, the design ‘pops’, and they thought it ‘looked cool’. I think it's safe to say that I am now down with the kids!