Two monitors with design files

Insights: build the right experience

We have produced this guide hoping that the insights we have gained from working with young people can benefit others. As a charity not a commercial organisation, we want to share what we have learned. If we can help you add value to your own digital products through sharing what we have learned about what young people want from digital products, we are keen to do so. The insights from the young people who have steered our process can benefit anyone developing products or services for young people.

Key points: Build the right experience

  • 1. Involve young people in the tone of your content to get the balance right.
  • 2. Colours are more than just a colour
  • 3. Pictures and emojis can share key information and increase accessibility
  • 4. Young people want dynamic content such as videos
  • 5. Give options to personalise your products can make them more accessible

1. Involve young people in the tone of your content to get the balance right.

First impressions count. The same applies for making digital products. Young people may have different opinions about visual appeal compared to those making them. Young people are sensitive to tone. They will notice if a website is trying too hard to appear cool, and they will feel insulted if they think a website is talking down to them.

Tip: Involving young people and listening to their preferences will reduce the risk of it not appealing.

A group of people in a circle with their hands in together.

2. Colours are more than just a colour

The group said they would not use the app if it wasn’t visually appealing. An early version of the app had little colour and few pictures. The young people thought it was “bland”. They believed the app could be improved by adding more colours to “catch people’s eye”.

The colours chosen by our steering group were purple and blue. However, reactions to the colours upon launch were mixed. Some felt the colour blue was too “corporate” and alienating. They preferred warmer shades such as orange and yellow. On the other hand, some liked the purple-and-blue colour scheme, calling it “modern”, and “appealing”.

Tip: We recommend asking the young people you work with what colours they like—but be prepared for differing opinions!

Screenshot of the top of the My Best Life app

3.Pictures and emojis can share key information and increase accessibility

Pictures can convey information and be “better to look at”. For example, pictures within directories helped to give a better idea of what it is and whether they would enjoy it. The use of emojis or icons to accompany words, can make it easier to understand the appropriate option within filters and a quiz or highlight inclusivity for certain groups. Such as, the suggestion a pride flag icon to indicate a service was LGBT-friendly because it is “cooler” than just the words, ‘This service is safe for LGBT+ people’.

Tip: It is important that the pictures you include are high-quality. Poor-quality images and “fuzzy logos” can make a young person distrust a website or app, so they should be avoided as much as possible. Nappy, Unsplash, and Pexels are good places to start for free, high-quality, and diverse stock photos.

Tip: You may want to create your own pictures in your own art style, rather than relying on stock images. If so, see if you can employ some young graphic designers or creatives to work on the visuals.

a screenshot of the my best life app

4. Dynamic content such as videos can convey information quickly

Like, photos, using videos can help convey information quickly. Videos can be especially useful for those with dyslexia or those with additional needs, such as access needs. For example, a welcome video for a service was suggested to show “more insight into what they do” and is more attractive.

Tip: Make a service introduction video. If you have the time or budget to make a video introducing your service, it is worth considering. You could give a tour of the facilities, play clips of young people using your service (where appropriate), include the voices of attendees explaining what they like about the service, and give guidance on when and where your service is available. The video could be structured around the four key questions young people want answered when looking for support.

A video camera

5. Give options to personalise your products can make them more accessible

Personalisation of colours and the option for a dark mode were suggested to support those with dyslexia, and those with visual impairments, due to making the text more readable. These suggestions may find yourself attracting more people to your services.

A checklist and magnifying glass