Designing Apps for Kids: A Reading App User Experience
With the boom of digital, education can’t be left behind. Although perceived by many as a threat to traditional education, web and mobile apps can play a big role in children’s cognitive development. From a design perspective, there’s still a lot to be done. So how can we, designers, help our users (kids) making the most of their experience when interacting with a digital product? That’s exactly what I’ll cover through this article. I’ll share with you some of the challenges when designing apps for kids, like seeing the world through their eyes, understanding their gestures or how to get them engaged by using color and text. I’ll also approach what designers should consider when building reading apps for children, being those educational web or mobile apps. Why are apps important for kids ? I believe that apps in general can be a great complement to formal education. However, these web or mobile apps need to keep up with today’s youngest generation needs. Kids grow up immersed in the digital world like never seen before. This is a huge opportunity to create valuable products that can be integrated with the current educational tools. Not only they estimulate kids learning process, but also to help tutors and teachers to better manage assigments. Readings apps for kids matter According to the Reading Agency, in 2014 one in five children in England could not read well by the age of 11. This number is followed by PISA results from 2018, which shows several countries’ reading results falling behind. The latter results are not to be seen as a ranking, but rather as educational improvements to be made. Children of different age groups might face different challenges regarding reading (besides pre-existing reading disabilities), and the earlier educators and parents can help to tackle them the better. Being known that kids struggle to read and practice reading, these apps can be of great help, not only for schools or educators, but especially to help kids improve reading skills. Best practices to design apps for kids From a design perspective, it is exciting to look into how this a target group can benefit from interacting with apps. Designing for such a playful and demanding audience can, however, be challenging if you don’t have a set of principles in mind as we’re explaining below. Kid’s age group defines the design Kids are constantly changing and so are their capabilities, needs and goals. If there’s one thing to recall is that cognitive and physical skills can differ drastically from one age to another. In that sense, adapting the app you’re designing to each skills’ age group is a good strategy. Take the example of Homer app a personalised reading app, where the onboarding guides parent(s) through a journey of selecting the kid’s age (to find their reading level). It takes into consideration skills such as matching lowercase with uppercase, sound recognition, rhyming, consonant/vowel reading, spelling, etc. Allowing parents to answer about such capabilities gives the user (the kid) a customised experience designed for that specific age, behaviour and interests. Children’s interests, engagement and willingness vastly vary from a toddler, to a preschooler and a grade-schooler. Keeping these aspects in mind might prevent you from getting that comment from a 10-12 year old saying “This is too silly!”, or even “I don’t use these baby-like things anymore!”. Age is the first and decisive aspect that will be crossing all the aspects and decisions throughout your design process. » Read More
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