5 essentials for building a kid friendly websiteThese days, kids seem to use the internet as much as we do. If they’re not playing games online or surfing social media, what are they doing? According to research from Child Trends, about 60 percent of children from 3-17 use the internet at home. For perspective, that’s about six times more than kids who used the internet a decade ago.

Many kids have computers in their bedrooms or their own mobile devices, like a tablet or smartphone, and the numbers continue to grow. As technological attachment in the home grows, so does the interest in kid-friendly websites.

In this day and age, building a kid-focused website can be a highly lucrative endeavor. You just have to make sure the appropriate measures are taken. Kids require brighter colors and simpler maneuvers, which requires some specific design metrics on your end.

1. Use Brighter Colors

When you’re designing an adult website, you typically don’t want to use more than three main colors. Yet, the rules are much different for a kid’s website. Kids are highly visual. Bright colors are captivating and bold hues are more interesting.

Consider this website that sells kid-friendly, customized items. Even though the background is white, their products scream personality. They use multiple colors in their fonts and their images are bright and vivacious. This kind of design is exactly what will capture kids’ attention.

2. Animate Whenever Possible

You might have noticed that kids cartoons are always bright and colorful, and they feature otherwise inanimate objects like letters and fruit dancing across the screen. This is a clever design move to keep kids entranced.

Animation is usually achieved with Adobe Flash or Javascript. To see a great example of motion in action, check out the homepage for PBS Kids. When you open the page, there’s instant movement. Things shift when you move your cursor over the screen, enticing kids to stick around and explore.

3. Utilize the Imagination

Kids exercise their imagination daily. A 2009 study from the Wall Street Journal revealed that letting the imagination run wild – even if it means believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and imaginary friends – is vital for their development. When kids exercise their imaginations, they’re more social, experience less stress, and perform better in school.

Your website can help kids express their creativity, but you’ll need to use some imagination. Rather than sticking with standard norms and conventions, introduce something crazy. Create a brand new character that’s unlike any species you know. Color the sky green and have characters go on a magical quest. Whimsical bits scattered throughout your site will make it easy for kids to stretch their imaginations.

4. Make Things Simple to Use

Children don’t usually reach full coordination until they’re 9 or 10 years old. Though they can work a mouse and follow the parameters of a website fairly well starting at the age of three, they won’t be able to master micro-movements for several years. If you’re designing a website for children under the age of 12, make it as simple as possible to operate.

Buttons should be large and easy to click. As an example of this, check out the popular website Webkinz, which pairs stuffed animals with online adventures. All of their buttons are large and easy to click. Kids have no problem navigating the page based on pictures, and links to different pages cover a large surface area.

5. Design for Your Target Age Group

There may not be much of difference a between a 35-year-old and a 38-year-old operating a website, but those three years make a huge difference in developing children. For that reason, your website will require certain parameters based on the age group in question.

As a general rule of thumb, keep these constraints in mind as you design for different age groups.

  • Ages 3-5: Bold colors, minimal text, cute cartoon characters, nature themes, sound and vocal cues, animated graphics, large buttons
  • Ages 6-8: Basic sight words, more human-like characters, deeper color schemes, simple typography, large buttons
  • Ages 9-12: More complex words and images, interactive games, digital and printed projects, complex color schemes, animation, life-like illustrations
  • Ages 13 and up: Simpler versions of adult-targeted design, subtle colors brighter than an adult website, interactive movements that please a shorter attention span, elaborate typography, complex words and images

Each consideration is designed with the developing child in mind. They’re meant to capture attention and keep kids interested. Use your imagination and keep your target front and center as you create a website for kids of all ages.