Gone are the days, when kids used to spend hours in outdoor games, read book and do other activities. The reality has changed and children of today’s generation are more interested in mobile apps and video games. Modern kids are adjusted to using mobile devices from initial years itself. Though parents cannot stop the process of technology revolution, there is one thing that they can do is to keep a control on the amount of they spend on mobile devices.
A lot of parents see digital games as a promising way to inspire them to be useful around the house. The new generation apps are designed for kids of 4-12 years and are aimed to turn the kids into laundry folder, bed makers, toy pickers etc by offering rewards in the form of redeemable digital coins.
In a survey, it was found that parents like apps that resemble video games, as a lot of children are already entranced by the games on their smartphones. Some of these games teach kids self-control and persistence to finish difficult tasks.
Mobile devices have become a ubiquitous part of today’s childhood, and we see children with mobile devices everywhere. Creating great mobile app for kids has an incredible power to mold the future.
With so many apps for kids on App store you may have considered designing one. However, with so many apps already available on App Store, it is not an easy task for developers to build a great app for kids. They have to consider a number of factors such as – targeted age range, participatory design, usability, etc.
In this post, I will help you find your way to build great apps for kids. We will also have a look on the recent trends on kid’s mobile app market.
After reading this post, you will know – 1) Difference between kids and adult apps 2) Framework for designing kid’s app.
1. User research
The first step in designing an app for kids is user research. Whether it is brainstorming ideas or polishing the final product, you should consider what users (kids) want.
Now, you might be thinking “why designing for kids is so difficult”? Well, the reason behind this is that the designers are adults and not kids. The designers mind is filled with life experiences and loads of technology preferences.
When designing kid’s app, it is important to have empathy for users, especially when they are toddlers. So, before jumping directly into the designing process, designers should light up the shoes of users through research. Your research doesn’t involve technology during the early stages.
All you need to do is observe the child’s play, understand how they interact with each other and what captures their attention.
2. Determine age range
It is important to determine the target range of your app, as kids tend to change quickly than adults. They grow fast and there is a huge developmental difference between a 5-year and 7-year old child. Some age children need upfront instructions to proceed, while some age kids love to jump in and figure out the app themselves.
It is essential to determine the target age zone to build a great app. Once the target age zone is determined — gather a group of children in the age range to observe their behavior, skills, interest, likes and dislikes. Try to observe the behavior of both girls and boys in that age range.
Take the observations to next level by setting up a scenario related to the app you are developing. For instance, if your mobile app is about fairy tales, you can incorporate a physical prototype and see ow kids react to it.
Remember that kids are inherently creative and you may need to walk away with tons of ideas on how to make the app engaging and exciting.
Co-design is a fun-filled method that helps you understand how kids see the world. During this process, designers have to gather a group of children within age range 6-12. Give them a few craft items and ask them to come up with their own designs for your product.
This exercise helps app designers to understand the feelings and interest of children towards your product. For instance – if the kids design a robot that help them with their homework, then designers should know what kind of features they want it to have?
Understanding their opinion on any particular product will help designers gain empathy for their users, as they start building the mobile app.
Testing the app
Testing the mobile app should be an important part of your app development cycle. There are a number of prototype tools that allow designers to test complex tasks such as pinching, swiping, zooming etc without the need of any code. The main reason to do this kind of testing is that the motor skills of smaller children are not as fine as adults, and children may not be able to use the app as efficiently as adults.
Designers should use traditional protocol and ask the child to teach you how to play or observe them teaching others on how to use the app. The usability session is very valuable, as designers will learn something totally unexpected. Remember that kids expect visual and auditory feedback whenever they perform an action. This is the reason why kid’s apps are designed with a kind of response for every action.
Tips to design Kid’s app
Designing a great app for children is involved with a lot of things than designing adult apps. Designers must understand the needs of usersand their behavior when using the app. Here are some tips that help you design a great app targeted at kids.
a.) Design an app that provides endless possibilities for kids. Let the kids explore things and experience the joy of delving deep. Make sure that the app is not entirely scripted. Instead, make it something that give kids an opportunity to take own path.
b.) Don’t design the mobile app from the perspective of an adult. Remember that kids are more imaginative than adults, and hence the app should give them the freedom to explore and be creative within the app.
c.) Your mobile app should not only impress the kids, but also their parents — as it is the parents who are going to buy the app. Encourage kids, parents and teachers to give feedback on your app, so that your app is rated without prejudice.
d.) Always think out of the box, rather than following the trend. Your app should create a new trend.
e.) Remember that kids love challenges and it is must to make the app challenging. Don’t make the app easy for them, as they get bored of it within a short period.
The bottom line is – mobile apps that are targeted at kids should be designed considering different factors such as – age group, interest of kids, skills etc. Designing kid’s app can reap you massive monetary benefits. However, they should be beneficial for the kids too – as the mobile apps have the potential to influence the entire generation.
A lot of companies try to create great mobile app for kids. However, only a few companies are willing to make changes as per requirement. Make sure to design kid’s app that need least care and consideration. If you want a well-developed community, you should captive the next generation — which can be possible by building ‘GREAT’ apps.