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Design

September 2022 — 2 min read

UX and kids

Some people on our team have children. As obvious as it may seem, work and parenthood are two worlds that run together. Even more, we did realized that the way parents decide to raise their children has a lot in common with some UX best practices.

UX designers always have their end user in mind. Their goal? offering the best possible experience throughout their interaction with the product. Parents prioritize their kids’ needs and feelings, so they can have smooth experiences when exploring their environment.

So, let’s dive into our research and see how similar these two concepts are:

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to get in someone’s shoes

Users have different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, ages, limitations, etc. When trying to solve a problem, we need to keep all those differences in mind and design an experience depending on many scenarios and personas. Kids also have limitations depending on their age, personality and experience. Their brains and emotions are still growing - if we keep this in mind, it’s easier to understand why your child cry because you brought the orange pair of socks instead of the green one.

Familiarity

Familiar behaviours make people more comfortable

Users have naturally learned how to navigate through digital apps/websites from their past experiences. In a new environment, they will try to repeat behaviours they already learned (ie. looking for a menu at the top of a page, dragging down to navigate on a page, etc.). While change and innovation are always possible - incorporating patterns they know well will help them feel confortable and increase their likelihood to appreciate their experience.

Kids also feel more confident and safe when they experience something they know well. A plush toy or a pillow can help them feel at home when sleeping somewhere else. It’s all about finding the right balance between familiarity and disruption.

examples of ui and plush toys
Status

Where am I? What’s going on? What’s next?

Users should know where they are in a process - or what’s going on through appropriate copywriting. When they are aware about it, they tend to have a more positive experience and feel like they are moving forward with their “tasks”.

Kids also need to know about the process, that is why their routine is so important. If something changes, keep them informed about the next steps so they can manage their expectations. For example on a trip, we can inform them about the drive, the new house, the sleepover and the come back home after after a couple of days.

examples of ui and a child travelling on a car
Easy access

Important things should be very accessible

In a digital experience, users need to have easy access to whatever they need. When each element is thoroughly located in the screen, they will reach their objective easier and that can only sum up in happy users.

Kids also want to have their toys as close and accessible possible. This allows them to be more independent.

Error prevention

Helping people to avoid mistakes

Users need to be guided on their actions. Having clear messages, components and flows can facilitate their experience a lot.

Kids are unpredictable. Knowing and anticipating your child’s behaviour can help avoid a possible crisis. As a short story example, feed them before going to the supermarket to avoid a massive meltdown.

exemples of ui and a lot of candies on a shelf
Positive words

Choosing the right tone of voice

Users feel safe to continue their journey when we encourage and give them solutions. Negative words or unclear messages generate frustration. Although this can be played around to motivate people one way or another, optimistic copywrite is the way to go.

Kids may be similar to demanding users as they are sensible to negative words that can affect their behaviour. Positive words make them proud and keen to cooperate.

examples of ui and a "be kind" poster
Consistency

Manage expectations

Users expect similar behaviour for similar components all around their experience. If they aren’t consistent, users might make a mistake and get discouraged.

Kids also need to understand that they will always receive the same answer from their parents, no matter how many time they ask the question. When one parent says that ice cream is not allowed before dinner, the other parent can not contradict.

In the end, it’s up to you to memorize those golden rules with your own little stories and parallels. Be open to new challenges, learn from your mistakes and always try to balance those principles with well-thought innovation. Kids and users are unpredictable, but they all change.

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