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How to design web interfaces for kids

Published on 12 August 15
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Times have changed and internet is not only meant for adults, kids are also spending lot of time online. However there are many cognitive and physical challenges that affect them. Poorly designed content or dark patterns can have an adverse impact on kids. Web designers and businesses have a greater responsibility towards creating websites that are equally good for kids to view keeping in mind the limitations they have.

When we were kids, it was just the beginning of the internet era which was slowly gaining popularity. We relied on books and newspapers to get the information we require. But the same situation does not exist today. Information is readily available through internet. And kids are aware that they do not have to wait longer duration for a website to load, and if it loads slowly then they are likely to engage in some other activities until the website loads completely.

Kids who are under the age of seven are likely to make use of touch-screens and apps rather than making use of internet. However kids above the age of seven are likely to use browsers for accessing websites and web applications.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the factors that affect kids using the web. It is important for web designers and developers to take in to consideration these factors before creating a website for kids.

Mental Models


Kids at a very early age will be more interested with user interfaces that have graphics or large navigation buttons with very limited text. They will be also more familiar with video-control buttons such as pause and play as well as full-screen buttons etc. Thus touch screen environments play a vital role in their mental models at the beginning phase when a kid interacts with a smartphone or a tablet computer.

Language and Reading

Reading skills are also important while making use of a user interface by the kids. Kids learn to read much faster than writing and designers will have to take in to consideration these aspects before designing the search, navigation and content etc. It is essential to design tools through graphics or icons that make a meaning for the kids to understand. This is why YouTube and Games are among the most favourite for kids.

Now letâs move on to the guidelines that designers will have to consider while creating web interfaces for kids.

Data Entry should be simple

For kids under the age of 10, typing can be a difficult process. So designers should ensure the keyboard based data entry requirements are much simpler for the kids to type.

Just Buttons, No Text Links

Include buttons as the main entry point for navigation rather than any text links which would make it harder for kids to navigate through the website. The touch-screen environments are more preferred by kids rather than any text links.

Images and Icons

Kids who have difficulty in reading prefer using images and icons for navigations. The user group and their age have to be considered by the designers while designing the icons or images. It should be designed in such a way that kids should be able to navigate without reading the text itself.

Voiceover instructions for younger kids


The younger the kid, the more effective voice instructions would be. The older they grow, the more they prefer reading the instructions and ignoring the voice instructions. So design the web interface with a voiceover support for kids and also include a turn off button for older kids who prefer to read the instructions.

Visual Search and Auto-complete


Web designers should ensure the Search function are made visually impressive for the kids and also include auto-complete functionality so that they do not find it difficult to search properly.

Conclusion

In addition to the above mentioned guidelines, website designers should also emphasize on including quiz competitions and rewards feature just as in games which kids like the most. This is among the best ways a website can communicate with the younger kids. So include such features within the websites to make it more interesting for kids.

How to design web interfaces for kids - Image 1











































Times have changed and internet is not only meant for adults, kids are also spending lot of time online. However there are many cognitive and physical challenges that affect them. Poorly designed content or dark patterns can have an adverse impact on kids. Web designers and businesses have a greater responsibility towards creating websites that are equally good for kids to view keeping in mind the limitations they have.

When we were kids, it was just the beginning of the internet era which was slowly gaining popularity. We relied on books and newspapers to get the information we require. But the same situation does not exist today. Information is readily available through internet. And kids are aware that they do not have to wait longer duration for a website to load, and if it loads slowly then they are likely to engage in some other activities until the website loads completely.

Kids who are under the age of seven are likely to make use of touch-screens and apps rather than making use of internet. However kids above the age of seven are likely to use browsers for accessing websites and web applications.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the factors that affect kids using the web. It is important for web designers and developers to take in to consideration these factors before creating a website for kids.

Mental Models


Kids at a very early age will be more interested with user interfaces that have graphics or large navigation buttons with very limited text. They will be also more familiar with video-control buttons such as pause and play as well as full-screen buttons etc. Thus touch screen environments play a vital role in their mental models at the beginning phase when a kid interacts with a smartphone or a tablet computer.

Language and Reading

Reading skills are also important while making use of a user interface by the kids. Kids learn to read much faster than writing and designers will have to take in to consideration these aspects before designing the search, navigation and content etc. It is essential to design tools through graphics or icons that make a meaning for the kids to understand. This is why YouTube and Games are among the most favourite for kids.

Now letâs move on to the guidelines that designers will have to consider while creating web interfaces for kids.

Data Entry should be simple

For kids under the age of 10, typing can be a difficult process. So designers should ensure the keyboard based data entry requirements are much simpler for the kids to type.

Just Buttons, No Text Links

Include buttons as the main entry point for navigation rather than any text links which would make it harder for kids to navigate through the website. The touch-screen environments are more preferred by kids rather than any text links.

Images and Icons

Kids who have difficulty in reading prefer using images and icons for navigations. The user group and their age have to be considered by the designers while designing the icons or images. It should be designed in such a way that kids should be able to navigate without reading the text itself.

Voiceover instructions for younger kids


The younger the kid, the more effective voice instructions would be. The older they grow, the more they prefer reading the instructions and ignoring the voice instructions. So design the web interface with a voiceover support for kids and also include a turn off button for older kids who prefer to read the instructions.

Visual Search and Auto-complete


Web designers should ensure the Search function are made visually impressive for the kids and also include auto-complete functionality so that they do not find it difficult to search properly.

Conclusion

In addition to the above mentioned guidelines, website designers should also emphasize on including quiz competitions and rewards feature just as in games which kids like the most. This is among the best ways a website can communicate with the younger kids. So include such features within the websites to make it more interesting for kids.

How to design web interfaces for kids - Image 1

This blog is listed under Development & Implementations and Digital Media & Games Community

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