To develop a child-friendly website, there are a few things you must remember because it isn’t the same as for an older audience. You need to carefully consider the target age group and design your UI and flow around that. You must also make sure the website is geared only towards children by keeping tabs on ads and other content that is inappropriate for children. There are more considerations when designing for kids, so here are some to help you out.
Children these days are much more intelligent and tech-savvy than some people give them credit for. Before they can walk, kids today can use phones and tablets for gaming and be fully-fledged web users by the age of 5. Therefore, you must not be afraid to use modern tools when designing a kids’ website. For example, you can integrate chat into a website so kids can find what they are looking for, and with the prolific use of AI today, this will even be expected.
Of course, AI isn’t the only design and feature tool you can make use of when designing a site for kids. Mini-games are a great way to keep children on a site and can help retain their attention when learning. Search and categories should also be easily accessible from anywhere on your site’s UI. This way, kids can move from one area to another with relative ease. It will also help to keep mobile usage in mind, so design buttons and text large enough for tapping.
Children of all ages use computers, smartphones, and tablets. It helps to decide early on which age group or groups your site is for. A general learning and education site could cover grades K to 5 and include resources that are age appropriate. Each age group has different requirements across the board, including content and design. And getting these right can take a lot of research and a deep understanding of what they need. Here are some general guidelines:
Bright colors and interesting sounds will capture the attention of 3 to 5-year-olds. Children of these ages will also learn to associate sounds with images, so use cute characters to help them. Untuned motor skills also mean buttons and interactive elements should be widely spaced.
When they reach the ages of 6 to 8, children have good reading, writing, and math skills. However, they still rely on vivid colors and imagination to navigate their world. Elements must be widely spaced, but you can tighten them up using framed boxes and drop shadows for depth.
By the age of 9, kids today can use the web and devices as well as any adult. While your design should remain friendly, you can begin to steer more toward standard web design with tightly spaced interactive items and more complex wording. Colors should be muted and saturated.
Designing your site for a specific age group allows the audience to interact much easier with your site. This also helps keep things as expected for a child of a certain age, maintaining the right interaction balance. For instance, older kids won’t engage with what they consider baby sites, and young kids will find it hard to interact with sites aimed at older children. This is both physical and mental, which is why it is vital to include larger click or tap areas, for example.
The correct use of color is the job of any designer, and you must understand this for websites, especially for different age groups. Primary colors are great for catching the attention of babies and kindergarten kids. While a mix of muted and vivid colors keeps 1st and 2nd-grade kids interested. The use of color should also be used to make your site appealing and happy for the intended audience for maximum engagement. Think of Peppa Pig as a perfect example.
Another good example is Disney. The artists at Disney are masters of color and use them to great effect across everything they do, including their websites. The colors of Disney sites, games, and characters are used to induce happiness and are balanced perfectly. Take Mickey’s red and black against a yellow background, for example. Plus, he is always smiling. This helps kids associate happiness with these colors to the point where it becomes familiar and expected.
Like any good website, a kids’ site must be highly user-friendly. This means paying attention to navigation, icons, and CTA. They must all be noticeable immediately and help the children understand what they are looking at and what will happen if they click. Here are some tips:
Using websites should be simple for the kids. They may be just learning to read, so why make it more challenging for them to use your site? If you have trouble deciding on a design theme or what colors to use, check other children’s sites, such as PBS Kids and Between the Lions.
Kids love interactivity, and you can take advantage of that for your site. Having interactive assets such as games and educational fun keeps the kids on the site for longer, which is good if you rely on running or other forms of monetization. However, games should be appropriate and, if possible, provide some educational value. The time for video games purely as a hobby will come later in their lives. But for now, games should be geared toward providing some value.
Parents don’t want to let their kids spend hours on something that gives them nothing. Sure, the games might be fun, but it is a waste of time from a parents’ point of view. But remember that games don’t need to be strictly about math or writing, and there are other forms of value. Teaching morals and ethics is a great example. Interactive games based on the teachings of the Bible are a good example. However, the core concept should always be fun and engaging.
You must stay responsible when designing a site for children. Every now and then, take a step back and assess what is included. If something leaps out, then ask yourself if you would let your kids use this feature. Of course, this is a hard thing to do, so here are some guidelines for it:
Designing a website for children can be a fun experience and something a little different from what you are used to. Yet there are still many technical things to consider, and it can actually be harder to consider these from a child’s perspective, so assess the site often and make changes.
The safety and security of the website and the children are the absolute top priority when designing and building a platform for kids. Parents are letting their kids use your website, and therefore, you owe them the trust they place in you. With a one-sided development such as a site for kids to play or learn, there is no issue apart from ensuring security and data protection. However, with enhanced features such as posting, messaging, and chat, there are other issues.
Opening up your platform to users for interaction exposes it to malicious intent. This could be hackers trying to find out information that can then be used for fraud or sold on the dark web. And then there is the issue of child exploitation. There really shouldn’t be any reason for someone to be able to contact a child through your site unless social features are the focal point. In this case, designing security features for the site operators is highly recommended.
Some of the expected features when you develop a child-friendly website include ChatBots, smart navigation, and even mini-games to help kids find what they need. Interactive elements like games, videos, and audio will help keep children entertained, but you must design them for each age group. There is also the issue of safety and security. And as a designer, you need to consider things like ad exposure, data protection, and keeping kids safe from harm when online.
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