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A comprehensive guide to design beautiful, usable, ethical digital experiences for kids.

Child using a tablet

C

reating a valuable user experience for a child is as complex and involved as when designing a typical app for an adult, if not more, and Designing Digital Products for Kids is here to be your guide. Author and designer Rubens Cantuni recognizes the societal importance of a high-quality and ethical app experience for children.

Designing Digital Products for Kids walks hopeful designers and developers through digital product design—including research, concept, design, release, marketing, testing, analyzing, and iterating—all while aiming to build specifically for children.

Industry experts and their real-world advice are showcased in this book, along with careful advice for the ethics that go along with this unique market.
A full compendium covering research, development, UX design, UI design, interaction, animation, character design, user testing and marketing.
250+ pages of best practices, tips, guidelines and information, based on scientific studies and decades of experience.
Interviews with industry experts, including people from Netflix, PBS Kids, Toca Boca, and more.
Practical tips and real-world advice to really put into practice what you read.
Usability and accessibility information that will make you a better, more inclusive designer on any kind of product, not just for kids.

Who is this book for?

Product Designers
Product Managers
UX Researchers
CEOs
Teachers
Parents

This book is for anyone involved in the creation of a digital product for children. You may be an unexperienced designer or a seasoned one that never approached this kind of product before, or, even if you did, you'll find lots of information related to design, research, strategy and the business side of the product that you will surely benefit from this book.

All the tips, best practices and guidelines are backed up by studies and experts in the industry, with decades of combined experience in design, education, business, marketing, and writing for kids.

Some of the questions this book will answer

Which device should I design for?
What genre works best?
Which interactions should I use for my target age?
My target age can't read, what should I do?
How to design the information architecture?
What's the best font for kids?
How can I define the color palette?
What's the best monetization strategy?
Is this touch target too small?
Will kids understand this feedback?
Is this safe for kids?
How can I design the best gamification?
How should I test this?
Native app or web app?
Is this icon too complex?
Is this text too small?
Should this app have a character?

Chapters

Chapter 1

Find the Right Motivation

Why designing digital products for kids? There are several opportunities, from a business and a design perspective. In this chapter you'll discover some of them to help you find yours.

Chapter 2

Before You Start, Know the Industry

Knowing the market, the opportunities and how to exploit them and obstacles and how to overcome them. What's out there already? What is working and what is not? Many products claim to be "educational", but what does it really mean? What is the right balance between education and entertainment?

Chapter 3

Know Your Target Audience

The main peculiarity of digital products for kids is their target. You won't deal with just kids, but with their parents (a.k.a. the ones who have the money) and the teachers. How can you please such a diverse audience? What is each of these targets looking for in a product for children?

Chapter 4

Concept

Establishing a solid foundation for your product is of uttermost importance for its success. Understanding which platform to choose depending on your target audience, for example: is it going to be a native app or a web app? But also where to look for ideas, passive vs. active learning, and, if educational, what subjects work best.

Chapter 5

Gamification

Gamification is not just a layer you place on top of the experience at the end of the design process. It's a strategy that requires careful planning and must be embedded in the UX since the very beginning. But what does constitute an effective gamification? What are the ingredients at our disposal and how can we make the best out of them?

Chapter 6

Safety Measures

In children's products, safety must be a priority. There are legal and ethical implications to consider. Protecting the young users when interacting with our product must be on top of our mind and here are the things you should know and the best practices you should follow.

Chapter 7

Interaction Design

This is one of the core (and chunkier) chapters of this book. We talk about mental models, cognitive load, motor and cognitive skills development in children and much more. What interaction can I use in a product for preschoolers? And which ones for older kids? Young children can't read yet, how can I solve this problem? You'll find the answers to these questions and many others in this chapter.

Chapter 8

UI Design

This is another thick portion of the book. UI is a big part of the UX of your product and you want to make this right. Here you'll find hundreds of tips and best practices, from defining a color palette, understanding how to choose a typeface and its sizing, icon design for kids, proper sizing of buttons and touch targets, animations and sounds, and so much more, even a guide on how to create a character for your product.

Chapter 9

User Testing With Kids

User testing with children is not the same as with adults. There are many things to keep in mind when conducting user interviews with kids, from getting parent's consent, to make them feel at ease and establish a empathic connection with them, while, at the same time, providing a neutral feedback to their observations to avoid swaying the test results.

Chapter 10

Market Your Product

Unless it's a nonprofit project, a product is also supposed to make money. What are the most common monetization strategies out there? Should my product be a subscription, a freemium, a one-time payment product or what? Monetization models are not interchangeable, and the one that works great for a product might not work at all for another. Also, how can I get users?

Chapter 11

Beyond The Screen

As new technologies arise, we’ll see more opportunities for new digital products and new experiences. Combination of real toys with digital products are already out there, as well as some very interesting applications of AR. Where are we going? What's next?

Chapter 12

Conclusion

Wrap-up of the journey into digital product design for children with some final considerations from the author.

Chapters

Why designing digital products for kids? There are several opportunities, from a business and a design perspective. In this chapter you'll discover some of them to help you find yours.

Chapter 1

Find the Right
Motivation

Knowing the market, the opportunities and how to exploit them and obstacles and how to overcome them. What's out there already? What is working and what is not? Many products claim to be "educational", but what does it really mean? What is the right balance between education and entertainment?

Chapter 2

Before You Start, Know the Industry

The main peculiarity of digital products for kids is their target. You won't deal with just kids, but with their parents (a.k.a. the ones who have the money) and the teachers. How can you please such a diverse audience? What is each of these targets looking for in a product for children?

Chapter 3

Know your target audience

Establishing a solid foundation for your product is of uttermost importance for its success. Understanding which platform to choose depending on your target audience, for example: is it going to be a native app or a web app? But also where to look for ideas, passive vs. active learning, and, if educational, what subjects work best.

Chapter 4

Concept

Gamification is not just a layer you place on top of the experience at the end of the design process. It's a strategy that requires careful planning and must be embedded in the UX since the very beginning. But what does constitute an effective gamification? What are the ingredients at our disposal and how can we make the best out of them?

Chapter 5

Gamification

In children's products, safety must be a priority. There are legal and ethical implications to consider. Protecting the young users when interacting with our product must be on top of our mind and here are the things you should know and the best practices you should follow.

Chapter 6

Safety Measures

This is one of the core (and chunkier) chapters of this book. We talk about mental models, cognitive load, motor and cognitive skills development in children and much more. What interaction can I use in a product for preschoolers? And which ones for older kids? Young children can't read yet, how can I solve this problem? You'll find the answers to these questions and many others in this chapter.

Chapter 7

Interaction Design

This is another thick portion of the book. UI is a big part of the UX of your product and you want to make this right. Here you'll find hundreds of tips and best practices, from defining a color palette, understanding how to choose a typeface and its sizing, icon design for kids, proper sizing of buttons and touch targets, animations and sounds, and so much more, even a guide on how to create a character for your product.

Chapter 8

UI Design

User testing with children is not the same as with adults. There are many things to keep in mind when conducting user interviews with kids, from getting parent's consent, to make them feel at ease and establish a empathic connection with them, while, at the same time, providing a neutral feedback to their observations to avoid swaying the test results.

Chapter 9

User Testing with Kids

Unless it's a nonprofit project, a product is also supposed to make money. What are the most common monetization strategies out there? Should my product be a subscription, a freemium, a one-time payment product or what? Monetization models are not interchangeable, and the one that works great for a product might not work at all for another. Also, how can I get users?

Chapter 10

Market Your Product

As new technologies arise, we’ll see more opportunities for new digital products and new experiences. Combination of real toys with digital products are already out there, as well as some very interesting applications of AR. Where are we going? What's next?

Chapter 11

Beyond the Screen

Wrap-up of the journey into digital product design for children with some final considerations from the author.

Chapter 12

Conclusion

Take a look inside

Free Articles

These are abstracts from some of the chapters that you can consult for free to get a taste of the information you would get from the book. Each of the these is greatly expanded in the book, with lots of guidelines and insights from industry experts.

Colors in children's apps

Defining a color palette for our product is one of the most important steps of its visual design phase.

Read More
How to pick a good font for kids' apps

The choice of a typeface for an app for kids can be a tricky matter. It has to be friendly and readable, among other things.

Read More
Advertising in children's apps

Is advertising a legitimate way of monetizing children's products? If you really need to, at least do it right.

Read More
Use Touchscreens for Younger Kids

Touch-based devices are the best choice for products aimed to children 3 to 5 years old.

Read More
Entertainment, Educational, Edutainment

The educational value of a digital product is not just black or white, there's a whole grey area to explore.

Read More
The audience of kids' digital products

Unlike products for adults, kids' ones have to deal with audiences with very different goals in mind

Read More
Photo of the author

The Author

Rubens Cantuni is an Italian digital product designer with 15 years of experience across two continents.

Winner of an Emmy Award in the “Outstanding Interactive” category, a Webby Award nomination, and several Parents' Choice Awards and Teachers Choice Awards with his work on digital products for children.

His experience spans from agencies to startups to big corporations, covering multiple design roles for a wide variety of clients in different industries.

He also writes about design on Medium and Builtin.com and has a past experience as a character designer and illustrator, freelancing for many companies worldwide.

hello.rubenscantuni.com

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271 pages • Soft cover • Dec. 2020 ed.

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