LTUX - Designing with Kids

After a break for the summer Ladies that UX were back. And what a great event to lead with.

This months event looked at Designing with Kids and we had three excellent speakers, Leanne Dougan from the BBC, Monica Ferraro a UX researcher and Ayesha Moarif speaking about a project with ustwo and Sky.

Not a lot of UX designers get to work with children so this event gave great insight into how it can work and how it differs from working with adults.

Leanne started by talking about three BBC apps; CBeebies Playtime and CBeebies Storytime, both aimed at children between 0 - 6, and CBBC Go aimed at children in the 6 - 12 age bracket.

She spoke about designing playful interfaces, and focused on the process they used to get adult designers into a good mindset to create things that will excite children. She had several ways to help designers think like their audience and generate ideas while making sure they stick to a clear mission statement. This was key to the success of the projects.

You can see a video about their playful principles for designing for children on the BBC website.

"We should not be designing how a child should play, we should be designing a space where they can play."

Next up Monica spoke about how to include children in the design process. She is a huge fan of Allison Druin and her Cooperative Inquiry methodology.

There are two parts to this: Idea generation and Setting expectations.

But Monica shared more than just a methodology. Actually working with children she found they are easily bored and they do not always do what you want them to. Before you start it is important to build trust with them and make them aware of the importance of what you are doing, in this case Monica told the children they were ‘Inventors of Technology’.

And she also reminded us that we are learning from them and so should make sure they are listened to.

You can read a full description of Monica’s project on LinkedIn.

Last up we had Ayesha, also speaking about designing with kids and a project she worked on last year, which went live this spring. Apparently children are watching less TV now, instead they are using their tablets to watch programmes, after all everything else is on there too. Sky wanted an app which would bring their content in front of these children, ranging from age 3 - 9.

Ayesha and her team started by getting the experts to use competitors apps. And when I say experts I mean kids. This gave the team real insight into what worked and did not work for the different age ranges. She also found that really low fidelity prototypes, although frustrating the children, demonstrated all the gestures the child might use to interact with their designs. She reminded us that kids are really honest except when they are not, they can be very sensitive to the situation and try to please you. And with such a wide age range she advises making sure there are at least two ways of doing everything throughout your design.

It was a fascinating evening which gave some real insight into how different and sometimes difficult it can be to design with and for children. I think my favourite take away is that we should not be designing how a child should play with a thing, they will do that anyway. We should be designing a space where they can just play.