Designing successful apps for children is no easy task. Not only is quality and age-appropriate content hard to create, but designing the flow and interaction of these apps is made more difficult because developers must refrain from implementing advanced gestures, which would only confuse and frustrate kids (and, by extension, their parents, the decision makers of what apps their kids are playing).
As game and app developers, we are constantly on the lookout for tips and advice from consumers on what makes an app successful and interesting. This is especially important for children's apps. We were really inspired by the article by Rian van der Merwe, father of a two-year old daughter "currently on a very successful #OccupyiPad mission" in his house.
As someone who often tests and buys apps for his daughter, and as a parent who wants to expose his child to productive and appropriate media, Rian proposes four guidelines for children's iPad app developers that make for good apps: affordance, pagination, menu button location, and avoidance of advertisements.
Majority of interactive apps for children feature elements on the screen that kids can touch, but give no indication of which of the elements are interactive and which aren't. Give the interactive elements a characteristic that indicated they are touchable and you've created affordance and peace of mind for the child.
When creating apps for children, developers need to keep in mind that pagination is one of the most enjoyable parts of an interactive app for kids. With that in mind, remember that swipes can be tricky for tiny fingers and generally require some precision, the arrow approach is much better for kids.
Also, where tiny fingers are concerned, it is important to remember that they will most likely touch various parts of the screen, because they can-especially the bottom of the screen. To make children's apps more kid-friendly, don't put any interactive elements in the bottom part of the screen.
And lastly, this is probably is important to adults as it is to kids. When parents buy apps for their children, they don't expect the app to trick the kids into buying stuff. So if you want to create a successful children's app, avoid advertising and icons that lead to "accidental purchases".
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