Many of today’s adults remember the day when the internet first entered their homes. The majority of homes didn’t have the internet until the turn of the century, and it was a dial-up connection, which meant families had to use their time online sparingly, as to not tie up the phone lines.
Things today are much different. Kids are going on as early as 3 years old, according to a survey from the parenting site Netmums.com. Other research shows that 80 percent of children five years old and younger use the internet on a weekly basis.
The frequency and use of the internet grows as kids do. Kids from the ages of 8 to 18 spend as much as seven hours per day on electronic devices, which includes smartphones, laptops, and tablets.
Kids are spending just as much time online as adults, but there are certain parameters that parents like to have in place for their kids. When kids go online, they have different needs than adults. A child’s unique perspective should be the core of the design process. As you design a site meant for those under the age of 18, there are some things you should consider.
- Keep Kids in Mind from Beginning to End
The user should always be at the forefront of your mind as you design a site. You’ll want to think like a kid as you design. Everything from the colors and graphics to the language and accessibility should be taken into careful consideration.
It’s especially important to design sites according to age appropriateness. In adults, website use isn’t much different for a 21-year-old and a 29-year-old. However, children are much different. They develop very quickly, and a few years is almost like a lifetime.
You might not think there’s much difference between a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, but there is. When kids reach the age of seven, they’re more interested in color, motion, and more complex actions while five-year-olds are still figuring out how to click targets and complete simple motions. Testing appropriate age groups and keeping their specific needs and skills in mind is essential to a well-performing website.
- Surf Existing Kid-Friendly Websites
You’ll get a lot of your ideas from visiting other kid-friendly sites. You’ll notice a distinct difference in fonts, colors, and graphic styles that will appeal to a younger audience – this can act as inspiration for your own website design.
Some great websites to visit include:
- PBS Kids
- Fun Brain
- Ziggity Zoom
- Discovery Kids
- Yellowstone National Park Just for Kids
- Sesame Street
- National Geographic Kids
Note the target age group for each of these sites. You’ll learn a lot from simply viewing the sites mentioned here.
- Choose Fonts That Appeal to Kids
Any web designer knows that font choices strongly influence web design. It’s no different for websites tailored to a younger audience. The fonts should be fun and visually appealing for kids, but not unreadable. To help you get a better idea of this, consider the kinds of fonts used on children’s greeting cards or stationary. It’s always more colorful, bolder, and more unique than what you see on adult cards.
There are certain fonts that are commonly used on kids’ websites with some success. Highly recommended options include:
- DK Crayon Crumble Font
- Squeaky Chalk Sound Font
- Rudiment Light
- KG Second
- Angeline Vingate
- KG Life is Messy
- Bad Gong Regular
- Justaword Regular
You’ll notice that many of these fonts are reminiscent of things kids are familiar with – chalkboard writing and imperfect handwriting. It makes them feel safe and comfortable when they visit your site.
- Go with a Kid-Friendly Theme
If you’re not designing your website from scratch, there are dozens of kid-friendly themes that can do the trick. These themes encompass many of the design elements already discussed with some new and exciting capabilities. Here are some favorites:
- Child Dooris
- Kids Planet
- Little People
- Peach Club
- Baby Kids
There are themes for every age group and website purpose. Explore your options carefully before deciding.
- Make It Safe
This is a big one for parents who often carefully screen their kids’ internet usage before letting them log online. There are also many parental blocks that can be installed on home computers to prevent kids from stumbling onto websites that aren’t age appropriate. These blocks read the code for images, themes, and content, scanning for things like pornography, drugs, or other inappropriate content.
Carefully craft your website so that it only allows kid-friendly materials. Don’t allow advertisers to post anything inappropriate, so it will remain a site that parents let their kids visit.