Much has been written about designing websites. In fact, since the mid-1990s, an old-fashioned encyclopedia could be filled with information about website design. However, very little has been written about designing websites for a child user. Let’s face it, especially now with the easy availability of iPads, the Internet user is starting earlier and earlier so we should take special care with understanding our young audience. So, what’s so special about website design for kids? Let’s start with the rules first.
There are two main sets of guidelines to understand and follow when your audience is children (under the age of 13). First, the rules from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are called the COPPA – Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act . Then there is the Better Business Bureau’s self-regulatory rules. Both contain the obvious content specific warnings about suitability for children, and the necessity for vigilant monitoring to ensure no improper users attain access. But it’s important to know these rules if you design websites for kids.
Now for the fun stuff! Be creative because that’s what kids respond to! How many times have you organized a birthday party for your child and you racked your brain to come up with a novel theme or activity? It’s the same concept with the web design. Kids like new things so turn up your creative powers to full blast! Remember, though, that parents need to understand the site too, so make sure it’s easily accessible to all age groups.
Right now there’s a trend to using comic-type characters. Create a personality character who can guide the user through the site. A good way to represent directions to explain how to use or do something is via infographics. Make useable buttons big and blocky so they are easy to find and click on. There are so many ways to use design to make a website suitable and fun for kids. What are your best practice ideas? Share with us what sites you’ve designed for kids – we want to see them!