A kid’s primary goal in downloading an app is entertainment. If they don’t find that your app is simple and easy to use, they’ll leave and won’t bother to look back. Because developers have so little time to get and keep their attention, it’s a good idea keep some basic design guidelines in mind.
Show Interactive Elements
Any child who looks at an iPad with a Winnie the Pooh or Mickey Mouse based app that they love is going to want to touch stuff to make it happen. But knowing what to touch is a different story. Imagine having a child touch something they expect to do something but nothing happens. They may keep touching hoping that one day that cow will moo or that bee will buzz but it never does. The point is, whether it’s the honey pot or the ghost in Mickey’s living room, more than a few apps fail to provide any indication of which elements are the interactive ones. The answer is to make sure to give the interactive apps a special design like a question mark or a distinctive glow. Some adorable way to help kids know that when they touch that element, something fun is going to happen (image via shutterstock).
Plan Explicit Pagination
Most mobile sites or apps operate on a swipe-based or touch-based action that moves it forward. When dealing with the tiny, sometimes unsteady fingers of a child, there needs to be more precision. Using color coded arrows on the top of the screen, for example, will help kids move through the screens much easier. Some apps like Old MacDonald have this system down. The blue right-pointing arrow means forward, while the red left-pointing arrow means back (image shutterstock).
About the Menu
Many adults have no problem finding the menus at the top or bottom of the page. Kids however, tend to hover the bottom of the menu. This creates the opportunities for accidental tapping and launch of a menu, which can be frustrating. There are two possible solutions here: move the menu to the top or create a menu at the bottom that requires multiple actions to launch. If you have the arrow at either side, you may have room in the middle to add the menu. That way kids can associate the top part of the screen as a control panel. The second option would be to put the menu item at the bottom but require two taps for menu launch, for example, so an accidental swipe won’t break up the continuity of the experience (image via shutterstock).
When designing for younger kids, make sure you use larger sized fonts, like 12 or 14 point sizes. Children are just getting used to the language so they’ll take a little longer to read through and type. Also, kids tend to be explorers and some apps like to take advantage of that. There are more than a few out there who like to turn accidental taps into buying opportunities. Kids may not know better but once parents catch on, your app will probably be deleted and you will lose their business (image via shutterstock).