Girls using a smartphone

Everyone uses mobile apps these days, but there’s one demographic that lives through their phones more than any other, constantly connected to the app landscape: millennials. Can you design an app that will hold the attention of the most plugged-in generation?

With the number of global smartphone users expected to eclipse two billion in 2016, as eMarketer reports, the potential audience for mobile app builders is becoming more and more massive. Once an app is created and released through the proper channels, over one quarter of the world’s population has access to your work.

But of course, there’s an enormous distance between putting a product within consumers’ reach and actually getting them to purchase it. The question is, what audience are you targeting? If you want your app to have the greatest impact possible, you’ll need to be gunning for the attention of the most digitally active demographic of moment: millennials.

It’s no surprise that millennials lead the rest of the population in smartphone ownership: over 85% of U.S, according to Nielsen. millennials have smartphones, compared to 71% market penetration for the American public as a whole. Along with their heavy usage, the group is one of the largest and highest-spending population segments in the country, with over 77 million people boasting $200 billion in annual spending power, as Apptentive reports. Put those conditions together, and you’ve got a huge digital market with just one demographic group.

Capturing Their Attention

Since the millennial audience is already at the digital table, so to speak, it’s up to you to grab their attention. You have plenty of competition — there are over 1.6 million apps on the Google Play store and 1.5 million on Apple’s App Store, according to Statista — so you’ll need to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. And with recent studies suggesting that some millennials’ attention spans can be shorter than that of a goldfish, as the Epoch Times claims, you’ll likely only have one small opportunity to catch them with your app: hook, line, and sinker.

Researchers at Oracle (via Apptentive) have found that millennials identify speed/performance as the single most important quality they look for in an app — that’s a bit surprising for a generation thought to value flash over substance. 63% of survey respondents cited issues with performance as the number one reason they were turned off by an app, followed by cost (62%), security (59%), and design (49%).

In the same Oracle survey, respondents listed their top must-have services, which included in-app purchases and bill management services, usage updates, feedback forums, and direct-to-user messaging. Through these responses, a trend emerges: when millennials download an app, they want the entire user experience to take place within the confines of a single program.

Keeping it Consistent

But that’s not to say that your app should be inextricably tied to the smartphone. To fully embrace the concept of mobility, an app should have cross-platform functionality.

Chris Klunt, a successful app creator in the educational space, preaches the necessity of multi-platform accessibility in an Entrepreneur article: “For an app to be truly mobile, it has to work full force across all platforms, in all contexts of the user’s daily life. Millennials are comfortable in front of any screen. Their apps should offer cross-device flexibility to accommodate that.”

This means that the app needs to run just as smoothly on a tablet as on a smartphone — and also that your good, old-fashioned website (if you have one) should be designed to with your app’s functions in mind, and vice versa. Streamlining the user experience across all platforms will not only familiarize users to the system and optimize function, but also keep your audience on your app, no matter where they are.

Putting it Together

Once you combine all these features in an app, you’ll be ready to capture the millennial market. If you’re short of coding experience or a development team but long on big ideas, intuitive and affordable DIY app building platforms, such as Infinite Monkeys provide you with the tools to create exactly the type of app you’ve envisioned. That way, you can share yourself with the world — and importantly, with the group of people that lives almost totally within that world.