If you have ever seen a kid playing with a smartphone, you know how immersive the experience is for them. The real magic, though, happens behind the curtains. Believe it or not, when software engineers and React developers design applications specifically targeted to children, they follow several guidelines that drive their app’s success in the youngling’s market.
Yes, there is a strong debate regarding children and the use of smartphones. However, we are not going to get into that. Instead, we are going to focus on how following these guidelines can also change the way you think about application development for adults. After all, we were all children once, and there is no harm in learning a thing or two from apps tailored to them.
Enjoyable Micro Conflicts
As adults, we often think in terms of tasks and the time we will need to finish them. The same thing happens when we use our smartphones. We want our bank app to let us check our card’s balance in a few steps, and we want taxi apps that find nearby drivers almost immediately.
Children, on the other hand, don’t care as much about the final goal. According to Debra Gelman, author of the book “Designing for Kids: Digital Products for Playing and Learning”, children prefer to encounter micro-conflicts that are easy to resolve but keep motivating them to take the next step.
When it comes to mobile games, micro-conflicts work just as well with adults. However, other app categories force us to think outside the box. Alibaba, for example, made great use of micro-conflicts to boost its 11.11 Shopping Festival campaigns by including short minigames that let users gather coupons as they browse stores. This was a major part of their incredible $30.8B sales record in just under 16.5 hours during the 2019 event.
Give feedback on (almost) everything
Children rely a lot on visual and auditory feedback to interact with the world around them. That’s why any app successfully designed for their age comes prepared to send exaggerated amounts of feedback whenever young users do anything. Similarly, when kids reach a goal, they expect praise and a valuable reward. That’s just a human trait and there’s no way around it.
Adults may have further developed cognitive abilities, but the need for feedback is still there. Of course, this doesn’t mean including success notifications after every action, but rather finding unobstructive ways to let users know their request has been received. This can come in the form of subtle animations, pleasing sounds, short device vibrations (haptic feedback), etc. As long as it doesn’t become annoying, your users should be pretty confident about the way they use the app.
For rewards, we could follow the example of children’s apps and see how invaluable but attractive rewards motivate users to continue using the app. This is actually the idea behind trophies and achievements in games, which I believe we are still not seeing enough on non-gaming apps.
Ease of Use
Children will most likely disregard any app they don’t enjoy in the first couple of minutes. This means that the value of UI and UX skyrockets on children’s apps, which is something that all software and React development professionals know very well.
What we don’t often realize is that adults tend to have their focus on so many other things that their attention span and understanding capabilities compare to the ones of a child.
That’s why it is a good idea to make your app as easy to interact with as possible. Everything on it must be clear and of high usability. The same goes for tutorials and onboarding screens. Children’s apps use short texts to describe anything and put their focus on attractive animations and images, which makes it easy for users to understand the app without much effort.
Make it into a game
Finally, there are several things you can do to make any app feel like an entertaining game. In general, both adults and children love games that challenge them enough to keep playing without discouraging them.
- Competition: Take advantage of the online world and let users build communities where they can interact with one another. You can also include profile pages, leaderboards, social network integration, and special events per location or time of year.
- Adaptive complexity: Both adults and children have very varied levels of skills for using tech. Adding different levels of complexity to your app will broaden your user base and give any user the possibility to feel comfortable using your application.
- Environment and personality: Just like children, adults get a feel out of your app from the environment and personality it conveys. Your app should be fun and friendly, and that message should be given through its challenges, feedback, buttons, animations, and logic.
- Let users make mistakes: The children’s app “Word Wizard” doesn’t show a huge red X or play a loud alert sound when kids choose random letters as a solution. Instead, the child understands that they’ve made a mistake when the app reads the word out loud. The creators of Word Wizard believe that making errors helps children learn faster.
- Explore interactivity. Implementing 3D, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Voice Assistance, or even getting into the Internet of Things is not difficult if you reach out to Software and React Development Companies. Kids may adopt new technologies faster than most adults, but adding another level of interactivity to your app can make it much more interesting for any user.
Some final words
No matter the age group, every user expects the same when they download an app: an enjoyable experience. Although adults and children use applications very differently, there still are many things an application for grown-ups could try to replicate the feeling children have when they use an application meant for them. Like we said at first, we have all been children before—and most likely there’s still a child inside of each of us.