Technology has had a tremendous effect on all of us - especially the smart gadgets that are coming out. Generation Z (if we can call them that) is growing among touch screens - learning to use a tablet or a smartphone even before they learn to walk or talk. This is the first generation which has had internet readily available to them from a very tender age and rely on it extensively for social interaction, education and communication.
With such a technology-driven lifestyle, it is no surprise that companies are looking to build products targeting the younger generation and easily accessible on devices they use.
If you are thinking of building an app for children, there are a few important things you should consider. Based on our experience developing award-winning apps for children - both educational and entertaining, we’ve listed down the top 5 things to consider when building an app for kids.
1. The idea
Is your idea innovative and does it stand out among the multiple apps available already? Why would children want to try it out - or why would parents want to download it for their children? Are the interactions in the app simple enough for a child to follow? These are some important questions you need to answer before you start working on the actual development.
Is your app educational? Is it a game targeted only to children or has mass appeal? This can help you get started with the idea. Usually when parents pick out apps for children, they look for apps which have some educational value. The more unique your idea, the more chances it has of standing out and getting due attention.
2. The age group
Is your app for very small children, toddlers, tweens or all age groups? The target age group of your app decides a lot of things - the look and feel, user interaction, marketing strategies, pricing, privacy and the app store category.
If it’s an educational app for toddlers, the UI needs to be such that they can walk through it without a lot of parental guidance. If its a game for all age groups, the game dynamics should be such that anyone can learn without much difficulty (Angry Birds anyone?). Also if your game is for older children, remember there is a chance that a lot of young children would play it as well - my 6-yo loves a flight-simulation game! So the difficulty level of the game should increase gradually so that it is challenging but also something that holds their interest.
3. Look & Feel
So now you have decided the app idea, its category and the target age group. Next comes the visual design. Children are attracted to bright colors and tend to pay attention longer to them - reds, blues, orange rather than browns and grays. Keep the design and navigation simple. Use bigger fonts.
As you target older age groups, the font size changes, the graphics become more visual. The load time is also important - apps targeting children should load fast - there are no alternatives available. If you do show a splash screen, use interesting graphics/animations to keep children occupied while the app loads.
4. User Experience
This is again largely governed by the target age group. The buttons should be big for small children to easily press and navigation easy enough to understand. Simple graphics like pulsating buttons is also a good idea to let the child know what to do next. Young children tap randomly on the screen - reward them with nice sounds and graphics when they do - they will enjoy your app more.
Apps for smaller children should also be “intelligent” enough to prevent random swipes from taking the child back to the previous screen.
If its an educational app, make sure the information being provided to the child is easy to understand and something they can retain.
While this is not something the child would easily understand, it is definitely a very important factor for parents. You also need to ensure you follow the rules laid down by the app stores around apps aimed for young kids.
- You can’t track the user’s activity within the app to serve relevant ads
- Any sections of the app dealing with payments of any sort should be behind a parental gateway
- If your app is made for kids, it must fulfil certain conditions (like no graphical violence, no reference to addictive substances etc)
Apart from this you also need to ensure that if your app targets kids 12 years or younger, you cannot collect any PII (personally identifiable information) from them.
There are a lot of other factors that come into picture when building an app for kids, but this list can get you started. If you would like us to help you in building the next cool kids app, drop a line and lets talk.