Notes from: “What Designing For Kids Can Teach Us About User Experience”

The second I get just a little bit of free time I love attending or listening to all sorts of UX/UI webcasts and seminars. I recently stumbled across the fact that O’Reilly offered free live webcasts on a variety of subjects, yes FREE!! Previous webcasts are all archived and available as well, visit http://www.oreilly.com/webcasts/index.html for more information.

JustMakeitFun-Webcasts

One such webcast I found particularly interesting that I was able to attend live was Debra Gleman’s “Just Make it Fun, What Designing for Kids Can Teach Us About User Experience.” In it she talks about the five principles for designing for kid’s friction, response, investment, action and flow and goes on to go into each one in detail and how to use it effectively for grown ups.

For example, the right right amount of friction makes the interaction interesting but at the same time too much friction may hurt, especially when it comes to commerce. Users may like a fun way to add to cart, but make sure it’s fully tested.

When it comes to response it’s key to remember every action a user takes has a response. This is a great when doing repetitive tasks like form completion, nothing too in your face but something in a fun and interesting way.

She also mentioned using communication as a great way to get people invested. MailChimp is a great example of this and is one of my favorite online applications for this very reason. The error messages and fun sayings at the top make me smile whenever I was helping small businesses set up an online subscription service. It full fills the business requirements in a fun and interesting way.

When it comes to action or movements, she talks about how kids need movement but for adults it need to be very purposeful. Examples when movement on the screen would be appropriate are things like, first-time user, using action as a way to highlight what to do on the screen, contextual help or when browsing or discovering. It’s not for routine tasks as it can get in the way.

Lastly, is flow, users need to feel as though they are progressing through an experience. This is especially useful when tracking, searching or creating information.

One of the big take-a-ways from this webcast for something I know all too well from watching my kids play countless games on the iPad, was the idea of a Lagniappe. Many times it’s a simple badge or trophy that shows up on the screen after they complete a task. My kids eat this stuff up, and they can’t wait to get to the next level or the bigger trophy.

Now I can’t stop thinking all the different ways to translate that concept into the grownup world as well. Maybe take an upload complete pop up and add a colorful icon to it or some fun messaging?? It doesn’t need to be much, simple is good but there is no reason even corporate sites and applications can’t make one smile while using it.

Again, if you haven’t heard of the O’Reilly webcasts, be sure to check them out.