Designing engaging apps
The best apps for kids combine elements of design to create delightful, enriching experiences that are age-appropriate and parents can feel good about.
Create fun and enriching experiences
Experiences for kids can be delightful and enriching. Create hands-on experiences that engage kids and spark wonder.
Build for multi-ages and abilities
Tailor your design to be appropriate for the age of your target user while also usable for the youngest user. Kids of different ages have different motor and cognitive abilities.
Test your assumptions
Try to understand how children look at the world and how they process information. Test your assumptions by conducting research with children and their parents.
Promote joint engagement
A kid’s positive experience with content can be enhanced by the support of engaged parents who play along with them. Consider how to bring parents into the experience.Learn more
Avoid unnecessary distractions
Only use essential sounds and visuals. Younger kids have limited motor skills, focus, and patience. They may get frustrated or distracted.
Design simple navigation
Consider using icons for navigation, and always have the navigation showing. Use common visual elements that children have seen before, like home buttons and back arrows. Avoid text-only buttons to support non-readers.
Keep gestures simple
Use gestures like draw, swipe, and drag. Avoid multi-finger, double-tap, pinch gestures, and multi-gestures unless the app is designed for older kids or they’re essential to the experience.
Create big touch targets
For touchable or interactive elements, make touch targets big enough so kids still developing their motor skills can easily interact with them. Kids may also hold devices differently than adults, and their hands, fingers, and wrists can land in places you might not expect.
Be clear after an action
Kids of all ages have different abilities, so be sure to use a combination of sound, visuals, and text to provide feedback after the kid takes an action. Most kids under 5 can’t read and may not know how to turn the sound on if it’s off.
Use common icons
Many kids will be familiar with common buttons like home, play, pause, and stop. Don’t rely on just one mode of instruction — utilize sounds, visuals, and text.
Lead with what’s important
Make sure the most important content is at the top of the page, and then provide hints that there’s more info if the content scrolls.
Keep kids engaged and motivated when they finish a task through rewarding visuals, animation, and sound.
Create encouraging errors
Give positive audio and visual feedback, and allow the kid to get back into the experience quickly.
Use visual hints
You can support a child if they choose a wrong answer by providing strong visual hints like arrows, highlights, or pulses that point to the right answer. Avoid using text to point out errors since users under 5 typically can’t read.
Think of parents as your user, too
Engaging parents and creating joint experiences between families will help kids get the most out of the experience. Provide opportunities for parents and kids to play together, giving each an active role that enhances the experience.
Consider a parent-only section that gives parents instructions on how the experience works. Create settings for content, communication, and ads that can customize their kid’s experience.
Gate parental controls
Use a challenge or question that only an adult would know. This way, only parents can access important settings, like content and purchasing controls. Explore tips for good digital parenting from Family Online Safety Institute.