Master Guide on Designing App Development for kid

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Most people could however remember Mark Zukerberg, when he said, he couldn’t have developed Facebook, if he had not played computer games as a kid, therefore this co-incidence is never a surprise, although it did spark up the creativity in Mark, in revolutionizing his environment .I was making some research about the most appropriate application for children, but each time I ran a Google search, the same app keeps showing up again and again, at that moment I realized that developing computer application for kids is phenomenal, and incredible; developing  for kids will bring out the genius in you, to my personal opinion. However through the development and deployment of various computer application platforms, we found out that developers and de signers can influence or change the way their environment looks, in the nearest generation to come, inadversely.The developing of new and responsive, dynamic apps; we bring our next generation Mark Zukerberg, for the next generation, has been argued that these applications have a selected impact on the future generation, that is the massive success. It has been recorded for this singular reason that designing and developing application for kids is not as easy as we might think.





The major difference here is in terms of goal, what the developer is intended to achieve in his or her development. When a developer or a designer is actually designing for kids, the bottom line normally is a small part of the whole story.

According to Debra Gelman, Author of Designing for Kids, when you are designing for adult, even the popular games we design for adult, the ultimate goals is to assist them crossing the finish line, therefore; more to say that designing for kids, makes the finish line a small and integral part of the whole story.

These three difference are to be examined before designing for kids:

  • Kids loves Challenge:

Why not think about it this way, an adult who uses a banking or email application, have it in mind to accomplish a particular task as quickly as possible, whereby a child who is playing a game, has challenges and conflict to resolve in his mind while playing; this is because it make their accomplishment more significant and valuable very good example is the Toca House a very popular app which is found in the applestore, and was developed byToca Boca. This game challenges children to empty a dirty rug, although the rug is not dirty. Just with one swipe the whole rug will be clean. Owing to the fact that it couldn’t be hard enough, the developer of this game believes that it helps children to resolve conflict very fast, moreover micro-conflict helps children to develop their innate skills, such as  the following:

(A)They creatively dissolve disagreement

(B)They also controls their own emotions

(C)It helps them in communicating properly

(D)They also predict how others are likely to react to their own point of view




  • They want to get reasonable feedback on everything:


Whenever kids are engage in the digital world, what they expect from any platform is that visual and auditory feedback, this is the reason why some children’s app or gaming software always triggers off some sort of reaction whenever an event is called. Children, also expects to be rewarded in every of their endeavors, therefor while gaming, they expect to receive some sort of accolades, whenever, they are through with the app.


  • They are more trustworthy than adults:

Because they cannot tell the consequences of their actions and because they also find it difficult in understanding such consequences, therefore they are more trustworthy that adults, this means that as a designer and developer, you are virtually responsible for knowing this and building a safeguards in your app.




The major fact is that one do not need to relearn everything from scratch before designing anymore and equally designing apps for kids, however there are few similarities between designing for kids and adults; below are some of the similarities.


  • Continual Usage:

Both children and adult, always expects that their design pattern remains the same and consistent, but contrary to that, kids do not like it when everything on their screen remains cool. However both adult and kids at the same time get annoyed by the same design element which always looks random and unnecessary. Children therefore get annoyed on a random screen, because it seems unnecessary. However any element in a particular application that does not spontaneously contribute to the overall goals of a kid can end up frustrating that kids appetite towards that particular application or platform, whichever the case may be.Moreover,if every single interface in the app does moves, changes colors or even make some sort of noise in the background, at this point both the adult and the children gets confused such interaction can make them stay away from such apps.In other to leverage this common principle, the fact still remains that a common interaction, responsiveness and feedback is what engages both the adult and children towards using a particular software a pplicatgion.Consistency enables quick learning of a particular app.


  • Take away the surprise:

Users of a particular app,never want to be surprised or shocked whenever they are trying to update their current application, as a developer you do not need to add anything new to your pre-existing app or platform; a very good example to this is whenever you purchase from online store, all you need is a confirmation email receipt. Users do not want to go through the extra mile of going through another landing page, this same fact is applicable to children “As a kid adding gem to a box in a game, all you need is to open the box where the gem are stored to see them all.

  • Users are always expecting something new:

Surprise, is when someone tap you from the behind, when you are deeply immersed in something and somebody scares you up. For instance snap chat’s “pull down to refresh”. This new feature in snap chat shows a dancing ghost that changes color every time  these difference and similarities are meant to be kept I mind by developers each e they are designing for either adult or children





As we have been elaborating   earlier on that designing for kids is something too different from the traditional app development process, children most especially loves colors and the color combination most be b right colors and they also wants feedback in virtually  everything they do


Here are some of the steps to take while developing for kids:


  • Allow them to have endless possibilities:

Kids should be allowed the chance of having endless possibilities, in other to engage them for a very longer period, and also developers should equally make sure that it is not all that is scripted. Kids should be given the opportunity to choose their own path through their new experience.


  • Design For Kids First:

Developers, must a times miss it out whenever they are trying to develop for kids, by imposing adult perspective on the entire platform, this is contradicting from having interactions which seems normal from an adult point of view; for instance, tapping an object to select it and also tapping the same objects again to use it, this is not something kids can n relate with; they always want to pick up object and make their decision straight away. Therefore a two-step process is not involved in this. Try to give kids a little surprise, develop a system that gives the feedback so they can explore and be creative within your app.




  • Think Beyond Reality:

According to Guerroto  “Limiting for the sake of limiting could be a bad opinion, such as making a certain clothing items which s should be available to certain character. One basic features in TOCA BOCA’s app that kids virtually love, is the stacking of items on the top of another, such that the stacked items forms objects such as a hat, scoop of ice cream. Coming to the reality of life, it is very hard to accomplish such task, but kids do not care about that, they just want to play the game owing to the fact that it is challenging, helping them to resolve conflicts within themselves, therefore challenging the norms can often give an interesting perspective on the play, and usually challenging norms is fun for little kids.


  • Children also loves difficult fun:

The late mathematician, computer scientist and educator, Seymour Papert was inspired by a first grader in the college to find the term that had been eluding him difficult fun. The Gardner Academy was one of the first school to own enough computer for students to spend significant time with them every day. The introduction for all grade was learning to program, in the computer language logo, and at an appropriate level.

Parpert therefor wrote that hard fun could summaries it, at this point people get more excited when they are engage in some sort of serious challenges, therefore combining learning and fun, you will develop an app that will engage a kid for the whole day.

Game designers have a better take on the nature of learning than curriculum designers. Their livelihood depends on millions of people being prepared to undertake the serious amount of learning needed to master a complex game platform.




  • Do not trick them into buying stuffs:

While developing for children, developers should always take away the tricks, unlike when developing for adults. Lot of app have this functionality of throwing up Ads when not necessary, the screen of a computer or a mobile device is a landmine of carefully placed icons that may lead to unwanted purchase of items, when they are not needed.Godady is a very good example of this, which tries to trick it users into buying more domain than they required. Rather than using that tricking perspective, developers should rather use a more persuasive approach in their design pattern, most especially when developing for kids.




Today’s youngest app user, the freshly minted generation Alpha, have gained unprecedented exposure to the world of technology. Studies and thorough research have shown that in the United State, about 75% of children under the age bracket of eight have access to smart mobile devices and technology, while 36% of children under the age bracket of one still have access to smart  digital technology. What this means actually is that designing for kids could even be more lucrative than we have thought. What I mean here is that, you can imagine yourself as the designer who developed ten game Zukerberg played, that made to have interest in programming.



Any developer who had done any sort of serious creative work in designing will have to be familiar with the term such as creative blocks; all of this ideas are been visualized and also works in the development and designing of kid’s app, therefore for app developers, all this process looks too familiar, however, unlike any other problem that have a clear and distinct solutions. Owing to this fact, a smart and creative process can assist us in the designing of a responsive UI and UX for kid’s app.


Therefore , when designing for kids, sketching of the UI and UX is a very important point in web application developemen.UI and UX sketching is one unique way through which designers communicate efficiently with their users and also the flow of the application is also determined by how dynamic the UI and UX looks. I and UX sketching for kids normally takes a two way dimension, many options and procedures are to be considered, before desiging,wghich however results in the execution of the best process. Moreover designers and developers are meant to consider their choice or path of design, before proceeding to work.

The two process in sketching UX and UI in the development of kids apps are as follows;


  • Idea Generation:

At this initial stage, designers and developers are required to generate or develop the required idea for their design, it is therefore not too common for some factors or elements to be missing. However the main approach is to consider the path that would allow you as a designer achieve your designing potentials.


  • Detailization and Refinement:

Step by step, a designer settles on a few promising variants and proceeds to work out the speifics.Thus rendering some ideas unsuitable.






A Framework for Designing for Kids

Designing a good children’s app is more than just dumbing down adult concepts. Like designing for adults, you must understand your users and where they are cognitively, physically, and emotionally so your app resonates.

Simultaneously, you don’t want to stray too far away from common design principles either, which is why it’s helpful to also understand the similarities of designing for kids and designing for adults.

Some of these steps will probably look very familiar to you

Drop your sketchbook, and pick up your notebook.

One of the reasons designing a phenomenal kid’s app is so difficult is because designers aren’t children. This is an issue because, as we all know, designers must have empathy with users.

But before you decide to go watch some random kids to figure out how they interact with each other, what holds their attention and what doesn’t, choose an age range – two years max – to focus on.

Once you picked an age range, it’s time to observe, and take notes.

Let’s be real, kids can be difficult to understand, especially for those of us who aren’t around them a lot. This is why you have to observe them to actually understand them.

Also, today’s children are digital natives. They have grown up with technology from day one so even if you can somehow remember what being a kid is like, you can’t possibly fully relate to today’s youth.

Try observing different groups of children in the same age range, such as children who know each other, all girls, all boys, indoors and outdoors.

Children communicate volumes simply by how they play, what they choose to play with, how long they choose to play with it, and when they decide to play with something else

How do they play, communicate and interact with things in their environments?

Surprisingly, any silly thing a child does could potentially tell you how [s]he will use your app.

Here’s a few things you could ask yourself.

  • Do kids in this age range enjoy sticking to the rules, or do they prefer inventing their own games?
  • Are they trying very hard, or are they just trying to out-silly each other?
  • Are there differences between the ways boys and girls approach play?

Now, it’s time to take things up a notch, and choose a specific type of play to narrow in on that relates to your app.

Toca Tea Party, the popular iPad app by Toca Boca, is a prime example here.

It began as a paper prototype, with cutouts of teapots, cups and saucers, sitting on top of an iPad. The creators set out the elements, and let children play with it.

“Originally the idea was to make the food, but the kids just wanted to get past that part,” says Jeffery. “Now we have pre-made cakes but you get to set the table. One of the most appreciated features was spilling. That came from the kids. ‘Ooooh, he spilled!’”


Consider participatory design.


Participatory design, also called co-design, is a phenomenal method for understanding children. It involves gathering groups of children together, giving them craft supplies, and having them come up with their own design ideas for your product.

This helps you – not because the kids’ designs will be good – but because you’ll understand how they view different subjects. For example, if a girl creates a fairy to help her with her homework, what type of personality does it have? Is she mischievous like Tinkerbell or caring like The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella?

You could also give children workbooks, or have them create collages or storyboards for you as well.



UX Sketches and Wireframes For Kids: Introduction and Classification

Your wireframes may differ depending on factors such as the desired level of detail, colors and style, whether you are going to show them to someone, and so on.


I singled out the following sketch types:

  • Sketch: Idea Generation

These are initial sketches. Lower level details are simply noted. A limited number of colors is employed.

I draw a lot of basic sketches to consider the problem from different angles and to consider different solutions. While drawing such sketches, I am also striving to generate as many solution variants as possible.


  • Wireframe: Specification, Detailed Phase

I usually pick promising sketches and go over the details, after which I choose the best variant and work it out in greater detail.

However, this does not mean every single detail. Obvious things may just be noted. Moreover, some aspects will be difficult to describe on paper.

At this step, I draw all the important details, but I do not yet draw wireframes in Balsamiq. After everything is done on the paper, I start drawing in Sketch.


  • Visual Design Draft

This is a rarely used approach, but sometimes it can be helpful. Various visual solutions are considered at an early stage of the project, but it may take a long time to create digital sketches for all of them. That is why I draw design sketches on paper first, to consider different options and choose a visual design direction.

  • Components/Elements Breakdown

I find this technique useful when I have already have a general idea and I am thinking about a particular page functionality, or of the integral parts of interface components. I draw different page elements, going into detail, and then draw different possible positions of the page elements.

Elements, even the simplest ones, must have a state; a button can be pressed and it has a hover text block that may or may not be empty. The more complex it is, the more states it has.


Getting Started with the Basics

  • Prepare your tools– Find the most convenient place possible, a large table with plenty of space. Take a lot of paper and prepare some pens and markers.
  • Warm up– In order to get ready I recommend drawing some lines, circles, basic templates and icons.
  • Define your goals– Decide what you want to draw. Set your aim and decide what story you have to tell. Determine the desired level of detailing. Decide whether you are ready to draw a lot.
  • Define your target audience– If you are doing this for yourself, you don’t need to worry about the way your sketch looks. However, if you intend to show your drawings to a client, make sure you allow some extra time to add more details to your sketch.
  • Set a time frame– Having decided on the amount of time you are ready to allocate for sketching, let’s say 30 minutes, will help you focus on your work.

Now, you are all set and you can get started:

  1. Draw the edges– Draw the frames, a browser or phone window, a part of the interface, and so on.
  2. Add the biggest or basic elements– Menu, footer, main content.
  3. Add details– Add relevant details, but keep them simple at this stage.
  4. Add annotations and notes– These are required only if you’re planning to share the sketches. However, they can be useful even if you’re doing them for your eyes only.
  5. Sketch alternatives– Sketch some quick alternatives to your solution.
  6. Pick the best solution– Choose the best options.
  7. Add shadow and bevel– This is particularly important for sharing purposes. Add a shadow to make your sketch visually appealing, which is important if you plan to share it with team members and/or clients.
  8. Save the sketch– Take a photo or put it in a folder. I have a few paper trays on my table for sketches.
  9. Share– I usually use one of the following sharing methods:
    • Scan sketches via Evernoteand provide a permalink to other team members or stakeholders.
    • Take a photo and upload to InVision.
    • Upload and map images to Realtimeboard.
    • Or just emaila photo.
  10. Review the sketches and add notes– Take a break and then come back to your sketches a while later. Take a look at them again. Does the sketch still make sense to you? A good sketch must be easy to follow.


Clarifying Sketches with Additional Elements

Find or draw a proper sketch, and then add the following details to it:

  1. Title– Sometimes adding a title is a good option. Write a description and date, if necessary, at the top of the sketch. The title will help you understand what you are looking at and whether or not the sketch is relevant. This is especially useful if you have a lot of sketches or you are going to show to others.
  2. Annotations– Annotations are names and notes placed close to an element, to explain its content or other attributes. They add details that clarify other elements, and are usually difficult to draw. For example, it could be the name of the block, some interaction details, an explanation of a picture, some ideas for future design variations, and so on. You can check out one of my examples to see what an annotation sketch looks like.
  3. Numbers– Number the elements of your sketch, or the sketches themselves. You can decide how to order them (e.g., by interaction flow, the order in which you created them, etc.). It may also be useful during discussions (especially remote discussions), as your colleagues and clients can just point out the sketch number in their feedback and you will understand which one their comments refer to.
  4. Arrows– You can use arrows to indicate screen transitions. They can also be used to connect different parts of sketches, to indicate a sequence of actions, and so on. Since the meaning of an arrow can vary, just above the arrow you can add a description or explanation of what the arrow is meant to signify. Here is an example of a basic sketch showing a transition and several different states.
  5. Notes– Just like annotations, notes are used to explain concepts. However, notes differ from annotations in their placement. They are not attached to an element or located near the described element, similar to this example. Notes can be placed at the top or bottom of the page. They can even describe elements that are not included in the design, questions that you may have, general explanations,unsketched ideas and so on.
  6. Gestures– Gestures are relevant in the case of touch device design. Drawing a hand gesture may require practice. There are several variants of gestures used to indicate different types of actions, so it is better to decide in advance how you designate a particular action (if it is not obvious, of course) and to practice drawing it.
  7. Feedback– You may receive suggestions for fixing or improving the sketch after showing it to others, or after you take another look at it yourself. It is often useful to mark such feedback in a different color so as to help differentiate feedback from the original sketch.

You can use different colors for different types of elements. Sometimes I use black for drawings, blue for links, dark green for notes, red for titles and feedback. Try to use different colors in your sketches, but make sure your choice of colors is consistent




The goal of this post was not to create the ultimate, one-size-fits-all guide to UX sketching, or sketching in general, because designers have different needs and personal preferences.

As you can see, this is a lot to cover. Designers use a myriad of tools, techniques, and approaches to produce UX sketches, and it’s rather subjective. Certain techniques may or may not work for different people working on different projects. If you’re just getting started, you should definitely experiment.


It’s up to you to choose tips and techniques that will be the best fit for your project and your approach to design. Do you have any additional sketching tips for fellow UXers? Feel free to share them in the comment section.

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