Black and white won’t get the Digital Generation to bite

Technology futurist Lee Crockett told delegates at yesterday’s World Youth and Student Travel Conference session that the digital generation responds best to anything other than black text on a white background.  

Crockett explained that for boys of the digital generation red is the colour that generates the most attention and for girls it is pink. Green and orange are the next most attention grabbing colours and he advised the audience to “… put these colours on a black background.”

He described a human type he referred to as digital natives, usually those under the age of 25, who through massive hours of exposure to computer games, television, mobile phones and computers are simply wired differently to the rest of us. “These people have digital as their first language, they see things differently, they demand information faster, and get bored following logic,” Crockett said. “There is a real challenge to the way we present our business and our brands to the youth market.”

Crockett’s impact on the audience was obvious and instantaneous. At the end of the session he asked, “What is the one thing you are going to take away from my presentation and immediately change in your business?” to which the audience responded, ‘change the background on my website to black’!

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  • September 25, 2009 at 1:41 pm
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    Is there any data to back up these assertions? To the best of my knowledge, the colours and combinations Crockett is suggesting are quite poor in terms of eye strain and general legibility, especially for extended periods of reading. Then again, if ‘digitital natives’ have such short attention spans, perhaps this isn’t an issue. I’m still a little sceptical…

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  • September 25, 2009 at 1:44 pm
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    ‘Digital natives’ are also probably better at using spellcheck on their phones.

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  • September 25, 2009 at 6:59 pm
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    World Square Hostel is the only tourism business that I know of that are using anything close to these colour suggestions. Maybe they are just ahead of the pack!!!

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  • September 26, 2009 at 1:07 am
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    Nice theory but black sites with red writing? I think not. We tested black backgrounds years back and as MsUnreliable says – horrible to sit and read.

    Our experience certainly shows larger, more inspiring images, less text and strong colours for the headers and ‘call to action’ buttons work for this user group. It needs to be a fast, easy to understand message.

    Maybe Thumbrella has it right and purple is the new black? :O)

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  • September 27, 2009 at 6:47 am
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    Heh Dan
    Are we about to see a rash of Xebidy websites resembling a redback?, interesting observations by lee crockett, my two “Z generation offspring” both said for travel research what was important to them.. Must be easy to read, ugly websites are quickly passed over Any colours are okay as long as the site reads easily. Must have fast downloads to their geek phones with cool graphics, both commented that travel decisions are also influenced by digital social media, provided by friends.

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  • September 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm
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    Absolute nonsense! It’s like Pepsi saying after all these years of failing young customers they need a new logo.

    We live in an era of the quick fix.

    We’d rather pick the lock than discover the keys to unlocking this market.

    Youth are not wired differently today, they don’t grow up any quicker and they (under 21s) are online 1/3 rd of the time your average 35-44 year old is during any given week. Go figure…

    If you want to engage youth you need to work on solutions that are long term, exist outside the 90 day window and find their basis in relationships not silver bullets. Red Bull, Monster Energy, Vans, Threadless, Jones Soda (under PVS), Boost Mobile USA, Nike (see Nike San Clemente), Apple (K12 education policy, summer camps etc) all highly trusted youth brands focused on grass roots movements that took years – not thanks to a few waves of the “technology futurist’s” wand.

    If you’re in travel and want to engage youth – look at brands that have been successful in different categories (as above) and observe how they did it. You’ll probably find inconsistencies in websites, b&white on one, color on the other. It doesn’t matter. The medium *isn’t the message* anymore.

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