This paper reports on an exploratory study among adolescents (
Children’s exposure to computing devices depends on a great variety of factors—including cultural traditions, economic power, and family values. But there is no doubt that, in general, children’s access to technological devices and interactive products has increased dramatically in recent years. We are now seeing even higher adoption of technology among children—thanks to the unpredictably intuitive interaction of youngsters with touchscreen technologies and mobile devices that they can carry everywhere and use at any time. As a result, it is important that we, as designers of interactive products, understand what is different in the development of digital applications that we’re targeting specifically for children. What are the implications for the UX design and user research methods we have traditionally followed?
Designing websites and related media for kids presents plenty of opportunities for Web designers. Openings are available at many businesses and schools, as well as through parents and kids themselves, giving designers many ways to find work on electronic and print projects that appeal to kids. The types of work range from interface designs for video games to websites for birthday parties.
The Internet today is a part of kids' natural environment. Most children have access to the Internet at school and/or at home. In 2000 there were 55,475,000 U.S. households with personal computers. 99 percent of public schools have access to the Internet. The number of Internet users worldwide is expected to grow to 300 million by 2005, from roughly 150 million currently, according to an estimate by IDC. The greatest growth will be in Asia and South America. The number of online users will rise 61 percent to 95 million in the US, more than double to 88 million in Europe and quadruple to 118 million in the rest of the world. NUA Internet Survey, on the other hand, estimated total number of people online to be 407.1 million in November 2000. In November 2000 almost 20 percent of all digital media users were children. A recent National School Boards Foundation telephone survey of 1,735 randomly-chosen households showed that children predominantly use Internet at home and in school. In a survey of 10,000 students aged 12 to 24, from 16 countries, Ipsos-Reid Group found Internet to be widely available to Swedish and Canadian students. 78 percent of students in Sweden and 74 percent in Canada are able to go online at school. 80 percent of Swedish children and 71 percent of Canadian students have web access at home. Taiwan ranked third, with 63 percent accessibility at school, followed by the UK, US, Netherlands, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Brazil, and Urban China.
New research with users aged 3–12 shows that older kids have gained substantial Web proficiency since our last studies, while younger kids still face many problems. Designing for children requires distinct usability approaches, including targeting content narrowly for different ages of kids.
An interesting discussion on the potential of providing childcare facilities to coworkers – with the coworkers themselves dedicating a portion of their time to caring for the children of other community members.
It is often difficult for an adult designer to accurately remember what it is like to be 10 years old, and so it is important to turn to research conducted with children and teens to get a sense of their preferences.
Designing websites for kids is a fascinating, challenging, rewarding, and exasperating experience: You’re trying to create a digital experience for people who lack the cognitive capacity to understand abstraction; to establish brand loyalty with people who are influenced almost exclusively by their peers; and to communicate subjective value propositions to people who can only see things in black-and-white. Fortunately, it’s possible to create a successful registration process for these folks with an understanding of how their brains work. Debra Levin Gelman explores how to design effective registration forms for kids based on their context, technical skills, and cognitive capabilities.
This article expands understanding of the digital divide to more nuanced measures of use by examining differences in young adults' online activities. Young adults are the most highly connected age group, but that does not mean that their Internet uses are homogenous. Analyzing data about the Web uses of 270 adults from across the United States, the article explores the differences in 18- to 26-year-olds' online activities and what social factors explain the variation. Findings suggest that those with higher levels of education and of a more resource-rich background use the Web for more "capital-enhancing" activities. Detailed analyses of user attributes also reveal that online skill is an important mediating factor in the types of activities people pursue online. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for a "second-level digital divide," that is, differences among the population of young adult Internet users.
While most of the content and interactive elements in applications for children employ graphic components and vibrant color combinations, the way in which application’s combine these elements can lead to a great user experience or be a cause of frustration and confusion. This column is a continuation of my last Designing for Children column, “Effective Use of Typography in Applications for Children.” In this column, I’ll discuss the optimal use of color and graphics when designing digital applications for kids between two and five years of age.
I dedicated my last Designing for Children column to exploring the effective use of color and graphics in interactive applications for toddlers and preschoolers. In this installment, I’ll continue my exploration of the use of color and graphics, but this time, in applications directed toward older children.
In this installment of my column, I’ll take a look at one of the most important visual design elements for graphic user interfaces: typography. I’ll concentrate on general guidelines for the effective use of typography in the design of applications for children between 3 and 10 years of age. What considerations do we need to take into account when working with digital typography when children are its primary interpreters?
This study examined the usability of educational websites for children. Children ages 7 - 11 performed seven search tasks with one of three websites. Overall, participants, especially those less than 10 years of age were not very successful. Terminology, number and organization of links, location of information above the fold, and length of individual pages all influenced performance on the tasks.
Although user-centered design is a well-supported concept in the literature on adult computer products, not until recently have publications begun to appear addressing the need to include the user in the design process of children’s computer products.
How is designing computer software and hardware for kids different from designing for adults? At the time of this writing, little formal research has been done on this topic. Most research done to date has focused on designing educational software, and evaluation is primarily of learning outcomes, not usability. However, usability is a prerequisite for learning.
Elementary-age children are among the largest user groups of computers and the Internet, so it is important to design searching and browsing tools that support them. However, many interfaces for children do not consider their skills and preferences. Children are capable of doing Boolean searches, but have difficulty with the sequential presentation of hierarchical structures used in many category browsers. Based on previous research, we believed a simultaneous presentation of a flat category structure might better support children. We conducted two studies of searching and browsing with these two types of category browsers. Our results suggest that a flat, simultaneous interface provides advantages for both Boolean searching and casual browsing. These results add to the understanding of children’s searching and browsing skills and preferences and suggest guidelines for other interface designers.
Our usability study of kids found that they are as easily stumped by confusing websites as adults. Unlike adults, however, kids tend to view ads as content, and click accordingly. They also like colorful designs, but demand simple text and navigation.
It was my first year in business and I was 20-minutes into delivering a one-hour presentation skills seminar when it was becoming painfully clear that I was losing my audience fast. With this particular group, the early warning signs were all there. It started with some subtle multi-tasking activity followed by a pronounced loss of eye contact by a few individuals at first and then half the group. If you’ve ever had that experience you know that you only have a couple of options at that point. You can try to pump up the energy level and occasionally re-energize an audience; but, let’s face it, the odds are pretty slim. Or you can always start summarizing, cut your loses and go for a well-scripted close. At least there’s some hope that your audience will, at a minimum, hear a few crisp closing points and an interesting story to tie it all together. On that particular day, I didn’t have a chance to do either. The bell rang at precisely 11:22 and Cheryl Bailey’s third period PowerPoint class darted for the door and I was left standing there (unplugging my projector and laptop) wondering what the heck just happened. It was my first time presenting to a group of kids and since then I’ve had to revise my technique considerably for this unique audience.
When using websites, teenagers have a lower success rate than adults and they're also easily bored. To work for teens, websites must be simple -- but not childish -- and supply plenty of interactive features.
This article reports on the types of scientific writing found in two primary grade classrooms. These results are part of a larger two-year study whose purpose was to examine the development of informational writing of second- and third-grade students as they participated in integrated science-literacy instruction. The primary purpose of the present article is to report on the “genre set” (Bazerman, 2004) established in this community around science instruction. Using Halliday’s (1993) Systemic Functional Linguistics approach and Hasan’s (1985, 1994) Generic Structure Potential, I describe the genres of scientific writing and drawing activities in which these children regularly participated. Findings indicate that children participated in several distinct scientific genres, some of which were flexible, and some of which were highly constrained by the teachers. Each of the genres represented a distinct purpose, structure, and linguistic nature of scientific discourse. The influence of this particular genre set on children’s appropriation of scientific discourse is discussed.
This paper reports the results of scavenger-hunt usability tests conducted with 16 adolescent children (8 males and 8 females) in two age groups (12 years old and 16 years old), using two general-interest topical Web sites. The tests yield comparison data regarding both search performance and self-reported subjective preferences. The sole independent variable affecting search performance was the age of the subject, from which the authors conclude that children's domain knowledge may be a key component of their ability to retrieve information successfully from Web-based systems. Subjective preferences of children are systematically compared to previously reported preference data for adults who tested the same topical Web sites. Based on these data, as well as on insights based on subjects' verbal protocols, conclusions regarding both commonalities and differences in Web usability requirements between adults and children are suggested.