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The Webster Dictionary defines “dank” as….lol, just kidding. You better head to the Urban Dictionary for this one. 

Gen Z is rising in economic power and they have seriously strong opinions about website design. But you’ll need to decode their terminology and dive into their psychology if you want to craft a digital presence that will impress Gen Z enough to earn their business.

FYI, dank means excellent and cheugy means outdated and uncool. Linguistic trends are just the tip of the iceberg—here’s what you need to know about Gen Z and website design.

Gen Z is the consumer you can’t ignore

Born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, Gen Z is a diverse bunch. Their job titles range from entry-level to pro and they span a range of industries. Although Boomers have the most buying power at the moment, Gen Z’s spending power is growing more rapidly than any other group. 

Gen Z is defined by its adaptability, frankness, tech savvy, and deep value placed on experiences and purpose-driven work. Gen Z is naturally inclined to online decision-making and relationship building, whether they’re looking to hire a lawyer or get a job with your firm.

Your digital presence is almost guaranteed to be the first point of contact for Gen Z. Your firm’s website and social media channels will determine whether or not they trust and like you enough to hire you. 

In other words, your online presence will strongly influence how the next generation of economic powerhouses’ perceive your brand—and it will dictate their future engagement.

And Gen Zers are now hiring legal help! The oldest members of Gen Z are now 27 years old. Many are looking for legal help with starting a business, getting a jump on estate planning, dealing with personal injury situations, or navigating family law challenges.

As consumers, Gen Z desires meaningful connection, on-trend design, and transparent values-driven business help. 

How Gen Z hires an attorney

Gen Z’s approach to the attorney selection process takes a sharp turn from the methods of Millennials and Gen Xers.

Both generations value the elements items, but Gen Z has a unique perspective:

  • Online reviews
  • Social media presence
  • Website design

Online reviews are their go-to credibility check. A firm’s reputation, as vouched for by others, heavily influences their choice. Gen Z is looking for a firm savvy enough to manage a Google Business Profile. Furthermore, they’re looking for authenticity in reviews from people with similar backgrounds and issues—especially a recent brand interaction.

Social media presence is equally crucial. Gen Z wants a peek into the personality and values of the attorneys they’re considering. You don’t have to be a TikTok star to appeal to Gen Z, but engaging content and authenticity play a significant role. Gen Z’s use social media to communicate with family and friends far more than other generations.

Finally, the big one: website design. Gen Z is far more savvy to the possibility of website design than other generations. They may have missed the MySpace age but they’ve experienced innovative and seamless online brand experiences since birth.

Aesthetics matter, too, but usability and transparency are their biggest criteria. They can spot a trend hunter from a mile away, and if your website takes forever to load and they can’t easily find the Contact form, they’ll click away.

Luckily, we now have enough data on Gen Z that we understand what they like and don’t like in a website. (Hint: We’ve created attorney websites based on design testing, eliminating all guesswork.)

Website design turn-offs for Gen Z

Gen Z has clear no-gos when it comes to things they absolutely cannot stand in website design. 

Overly corporate aesthetics

They have a strong aversion to overly formal and corporate designs. If your site looks like a soulless, generic office space, they’re out. This means formality, conservative colors, traditional typography, and structured layouts.

Inauthenticity and virtue signaling

Gen Z has an impeccable radar for inauthenticity. Virtue signaling (as opposed to meaningful action) is a very serious sin, according to Gen Z, and they can spot it from a mile away.

Brands that attempt to virtue signal to gain Gen Z’s trust will flop, hard. If your site feels fake or is trying too hard to be something it’s not, they’ll bounce.

Of course, you should still try to genuinely incorporate social responsibility. Just be careful not to come off as insincere. Don’t say you believe something if you can’t back it up with action.

Slow loading times and clutter

Gen Z has zero patience with slow-loading websites. They’ve never had to suffer through dial-up and they expect immediate results when navigating the Internet. Plus, their attention span is shorter compared to earlier generations.

Clean, minimalist designs and fast-loading pages are the key to appealing to Gen Z. If your site is a maze, bombards them with too much info, or takes too long to appear, they’ll click away. 

Ignoring social issues

Gen Z is more than passionate about social justice—they’re deeply devoted to putting their money behind their values. They’ll withhold their dollars and their digital attention from businesses that seem oblivious or indifferent to important causes.

You may be concerned about taking a stand and alienating some of your market, but ignoring social issues entirely is a red flag for Gen Z. If you’re not comfortable taking a public stance on a hot button issue, then try taking a stance on something more widely acceptable but still important (like climate change).

Design trends that click with Gen Z

Dank website, here you come! Here are five key design elements that will resonate with Gen Z. 

Bold and authentic visuals

Forget the generic stock photos. Gen Z is tired of sterile, cookie-cutter images and they yearn for visuals that mirror the grit, diversity and energy of their lives. Gen Z wants real, relatable imagery. Your website’s photos should still be high-quality, but go for authentic instead of polished. 

Don’t complicate the visual experience by trying to say something nuanced. Pick a strong image that will create a bold, clear first impression. Think of your visuals primarily as a tool for relatability. It’s how you’re going to foster trust between your firm and your Gen Z audience.

Dark mode dominance

Dark mode is popular among Gen Z. Websites that embrace this trend will score major points.

This generation spends so much time on their devices that they value the benefits of dark mode for combating eye strain and prolonging battery life. Plus, dark mode is sleek and aligns with Gen Z’s tech-savvy aesthetic.

Interactive and immersive experiences

Gen Z craves engagement. They value experiences more than any other generation. Ultimately, they value the journey as much as the destination. 

Gen Z wants real participation on your website. They expect to be immersed—or at least entertained—by your online presence. They also expect to be given meaningful choices. 

While you shouldn’t load your site with quizzes, polls and pop-up videos, you should consider design features that provide a sense of agency and captivation. 

Passive consumption is out. Let them shape their online interactions and tell them a good story, and you’ll create a deep, long-lasting connection with Gen Z.

Sustainability as a core value

Gen Z is closer to the climate crisis than previous generations—and their heightened environmental awareness shows up in their assessments of websites and purchasing decisions, too.

So, how can a website showcase eco-friendliness without virtue signaling?

Optimize for energy efficiency. Talk about your hosting choices and how you chose a provider that uses renewable energy to power its servers. Explain about how you purchase carbon offsets when your team travels for conferences or cases. Highlight the sustainable practices you utilize in running your firm, like digitizing records and waste reduction.  

Inclusive and diverse representation

This generation values fairness, equity and authenticity in representation. Gen Z wants to see itself reflected in all aspects of life, from TV shows to legal marketing campaigns. 

Done correctly, representative imagery can foster a sense of belonging and dismantle stereotypes. 

But don’t just throw in some stock images of “diverse” people in an office conference room. Represent your firm and your clientele authentically. Do you have any BIPOC on your staff? Do you or your team offer services in multiple languages? That’s the kind of inclusive representation you can showcase online to resonate with Gen Z.

Final words

Ready for a glow-up? Focus on transparency, personalization and social engagement. Borrow one of our templates to skip the queue and make your digital presence absolutely iconic to the next generation. 
If generational design differences are throwing shade on your design dreams, consult with our team.

About the Author
The team at OneFirst Legal has built websites for thousands of law firms across the United States. Fueled by data and whole lot of creativity, OneFirst helps law firms make a powerful first impression online with websites that convert visitors into clients.