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Product Design for Kids: A UX Guide to Design for Children

UX product design for kids is an exciting opportunity for product designers as it provides plenty of room to express creativity. Designing products for children should not be mistaken as being easy as creating a kid-friendly interface has its own set of challenges. First of all, designers should understand how children think. Being well-versed with children’s cognitive abilities also helps to realise children’s needs while they use a new app or website. 

So, without further ado, let’s understand a couple of UX design ethics for children.

Creating product design for children has different demands than adults and this gap affects the design greatly.

Different cognitive abilities 

Adults and children have different cognitive abilities when it comes to attention, logical reasoning, etc. Children tend to lose focus or get bored more easily than adults. To create an appealing user interface for kids, the design needs to be more interactive. Designers need to especially focus on sound effects, animation, easy navigation, etc.

Greater safety measures

Considering that the mental development of children is not as mature as adults, children are not aware of the consequences some of their actions may have. Designers should therefore put extra effort into making the user experience as transparent as possible. Avoiding promotional and advertising content on the content pages is a good idea, as it eliminates the possibility of tricking children into clicking on unwanted content. 

More faith in children’s capabilities

Like adults, children also like consistency and respond well to uncomplicated design elements. To create the best possible UX product design for kids, it is necessary to not underestimate children and their capabilities. Designers should treat children as a user group that requires specific design patterns as per their age group. Understanding psychology UX, therefore, becomes a priority.  

Best Tips for Enhanced UX Product Design for Children

1. Focus on the target age group 

Just like the content of school books changes with growing age, the UX product design also needs to be organised as per age and topics, considering the gap in reading, comprehension levels, and preferences among different age groups. The first step towards achieving this is by defining the age group of the audience. 

Jean Piaget’s theory of development differentiates between 4 stages of cognitive development in children:

Pre-operational stage (Kindergarten): 2 to 6 years

Children in this age group learn through symbols and images. Their reading comprehension and reasoning skills are developing with the use of minimal vocabulary. To create better product design, content needs to be a mix of pictures, icons, and symbols with simple words that easily communicate the meaning. 

Concrete operational stage (1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade): 7 to 11 years

Children in this age group have developed logical thinking skills. They can do addition and subtraction while also understand a conversation with expanded vocabulary and complex sentences. Content should therefore be conversational with a combination of pictures, icons, etc.

Formal operational stage (4th, 5th grade and above): 12 years and above

Children in this age group begin to think hypothetically and have matured and developed logical thinking and comprehension skills. Although pictures, symbols, and icons can still be used in the user experience, content should not entirely rely on these to communicate meaning. 

2. Use colours to communicate meaning

Don’t hesitate to add more colours for children’s ux product design. Depending upon the targeted age group, an appealing product design needs to be developed in order to communicate and engage children. For instance, younger children respond more to bright colors that tend to attract their vision. For older children, you may use a more mature or deeper colour palette. 

3. Place importance on font type and size

In addition to adding colour, using readable fonts is important to make an appealing UX product design for children. You must have noticed that cardboards books or easy readers for younger children tend to have larger font sizes than adult books. Larger line spacing and font sizes make it easier for children to read, especially on the screen. Using button options to increase or decrease the font size is also a good option. You may also consider using child-friendly fonts like Futura, Gill Sans Infant Std., Sassoon Primary with a combination of colours to create a better User Experience.

4. Take care of the layout

To achieve an enhanced user experience for children, the layout and functionality of the website play a significant role. In general, the idea is— ‘the simpler, the better.’ For instance, instead of links, kids notice large buttons. They know that buttons are to be clicked on. 

Moreover kids don’t always read text descriptions. Replacing these with attractive icons is another option to increase the functionality of the website. 

Marketing messages or label links like ‘more search options’ are usually redundant as kids don’t open them. Redirecting such content on pages meant for parents would make more sense. 

5. Consider a digital helper

Designers can use their creativity to invent an appealing and friendly digital character that can help children with product navigation and ensure a smooth and interactive user experience.

Bottomline

If you are designing for children for the first time, accept the challenges with a positive attitude toward learning something new! Rule of thumb, the product design needs to be safe, interactive and of course, fun!

In the process of designing, it is important to gather as much feedback as possible. You may recruit a group of children that can become a useful and informal user group for research and usability testing. Feedback can also help you to form the right questions, use the correct age-based vocabulary, and create proper prototypes, among others. 

Published by Sanjali Sharma

Associate UX Lead

Sanjali

Sanjali Sharma Associate UX Lead