Five guidelines on designing apps catering to preschoolers
Touch-screen devices have made it easier for preschool-aged children to access educational interactive content. Touch-screen devices are fairly intuitive and easy to use, and can also be powerful educational tools.
Special considerations need to be made by designers when making an app for children. Simply making icons bigger isn’t enough to ensure usability and easier navigation. Below are some guidelines for developing kid-friendly apps.
1. Intuitive gestures
Preschoolers find it difficult to make certain gestures. Tilting and shaking as a means of control can lead to children dropping the device. Pinching is tricky for little fingers with limited dexterity. However, most children know how to tap, swipe, and draw with one finger. Double tapping is difficult for most children to do: an alternative would be for apps that allow holding down and releasing actions.
Children often rest their wrists on the bottom left and right corners of a touch-screen device. Many apps place directional arrows on these areas, causing children to exit the activity unintentionally. Directional arrows must be made larger and visually distinct from other interactive icons by placing them at the top of the screen.
3. Easier navigation
When a child clicks on the wrong icon and is brought to a pop-up screen, the “X” button on the screen or menu should be large and visible. Sliders should be avoided, as preschoolers’ motor skills are still developing and they might not be able to complete the sliding action.
4. Visual cues
Interactive Items should be visually distinct from the rest of the images on the screen. This can be achieved by highlighting colors, animating objects, or adding a visual effect like a sparkle.
5. Make text short and simple
Children of preschool age may find it difficult to read and understand written instructions on their own. Text instructions should be short, in large font, and should start with a call to action; for example, “Click the arrow to see the picture” instead of “To see the picture, click the arrow.”
Children are naturally curious and developers should create apps that nurture this quality while being fun, entertaining, and educational.
Photon Infotech is an Internet consulting firm that provides social media and mobile applications solutions to companies worldwide. For discussions on apps design and development, like this Facebook page.