article How to design kids friendly website
How to design kids friendly website
Kids are becoming more web savvy every day, but they’re still kids and still respond to things like bright, bold colors, simple and clean design and high degrees of interactivity and feedback. Apart from adults, who usually use the web to stay informed and work, children go online for entertainment. They see the computer as a gateway to fun and play. Also kids are very great at remembering something they like.
Even if the website you’re designing isn’t specifically targeted at children, but if you’re targeting parents with small children, you’ll still need to employ the same design approaches as a kid’s website so that the parents feel confident that you “get it”.
Most adults will tell you that children are more understanding of the technology they use than the adults themselves. However, this is not true. There is a huge difference between knowing HOW technology operates and actually knowing WHAT a piece of technology is supposed to DO. And the reasoning of children seems relatively simple: They do not feel particularly inclined to clearly comprehend the working of the Internet before they use it.
Before we jump to inspiration we wanted to cover some of the most important element to keep at mind while designing. Below we have listed an outline for you to follow:
Use Icons and Images.
Icons should have a clear connection to the real world because children haven’t developed a lot of mental models for abstract icons yet. The younger the user group, the more direct this connection needs to be. As they grow older, they will learn more conventions.
Bold, bright colors.
Most children, usually having a more limited vocabulary than adults, will instantly get turned off by a web site with too much text. This is a good rule of thumb for any website, but when designing for children, it doubly important. Keep the text to a minimum and keep it in its own area. The kids aren’t going to read paragraphs of text— they want pictures and colors. Most households these days have robust internet connections, so some of the old rules about keeping the entire page weight to under about 100k aren’t as applicable as they once were. Don’t be afraid to use fun images in your navigation. Don’t be afraid to use bright, colorful backgrounds.
Make the website more like a game.
While adults mainly use the internet to obtain information, children use the internet to find entertainment (in extreme cases, maybe even to do some homework!). More than anything, kids like playing games. They turn pretty much everything into games and competitions. Use quizzes and reward systems and other game features to move kids forward through the information you’re communicating to them.
Use Voiceover Sound for Young Kids.
So, use voiceover support for young kids, and let the older kids turn off sound if they can read. Otherwise, they will most likely experience mental overload, because reading and listening at the same time is really hard.
Provide Information and Instructions “Just in Time”
Young kids (up to 8) won’t wait for instructions. (Honestly, no one wants to read instructions!) They have a “learning by exploration” behavior, but they will leave if they are not immediately successful. So, they will benefit from “on-demand” instructions (just remember the voiceover support). Older kids, on the other hand, benefit from post-failure messages, and they won’t be discouraged in the same way if they make mistakes.
So keep it fun, keep it bright, keep it engaging and keep it easy and intuitive to use. Because if the general rule is that you only have 2 seconds to grab someone’s attention with a website, for kids, it’s more like a split second. And this final guideline is not really a guideline but important nonetheless. As with any project, testing is essential. But with kids, testing is a very different thing. You can’t expect them to follow your instructions.