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Children's Websites: Usability Issues in Designing for Kids

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, September 13, 2010, Children’s Websites: Usability Issues in Designing for Kids: “New research with users aged 3–12 shows that older kids have gained substantial Web proficiency since our last studies, while younger kids still face many problems. Designing for children requires distinct usability approaches, including targeting content narrowly for different ages of kids. Millions of children use the Internet, and millions more are coming online each year. Many websites specifically target children with educational or entertainment content, and mainstream websites often have specific “kids’ corner” sections — either as a public service or to build brand loyalty from an early age. Despite this growth in users and services, little is known about how children actually use websites or how to design sites that will be easy for them to use. Website design for kids is typically based purely on folklore about how kids supposedly behave — or, at best, on insights gleaned when designers observe their own children, who hardly represent average kids, typical Internet skills, or common knowledge about the Web. To separate design myths from usability facts, we turn to empirical user research: observations of a broad range of children as they use a wide variety of websites. This research covers users aged 3–12 years.”

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