Designing Websites for Kids: Trends and Best Practices

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How would you like to design a beautiful, colorful, stimulating website that is captivating, memorable and allows you to let your creative juices flow without the need to worry too much about conventional usability and best practices? In today’s Web design market, it’s rare that such a project would present itself — unless you were asked to design a website for children!

Websites designed for children have been largely overlooked in Web design articles and roundups, but there are many beautiful and interesting design elements and layouts presented on children’s websites that are worthy of discussion and analysis. There are also a number of best practices that are exclusive to Web design for children’s sites — practices that should usually not be attempted on a typical website.

This article will showcase a number of popular commercial websites targeted towards children with an analysis of trends, elements and techniques used to help keep children interested and stimulated.

Design That Stimulates The Senses

Humans are mentally stimulated by a number of factors, and this is especially true with children. Successful children’s websites implement a number of elements and design principles that create an environment suited for a child’s personality and interests.

Bright, Vivid Colors

Bright colors will easily capture and hold a child’s attention for long periods of time. Although color choice is a primary factor in designing any type of website, this is especially true when designing a website for children since colors make a big impression on children’s young minds. Color choices and combinations that would likely be rejected or laughed at when designing a typical website may be welcomed on a website for children.

How many of the color combinations used in the screenshots below would succeed on a website aimed at an adult audience? Not many. So, when designing a site aimed at kids, use bright, vivid colors that will visually stimulate in an unforgettable way.

PBS KIDS

PBS KIDS

Herman’s Homepage

Herman's Homepage

Funbrain Playground

Funbrain Playground

A Happy Mood

Kids will remember and return to a website if their experience is a happy one. Elements can be incorporated into the design to ensure that a cheerful, positive mood is presented.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse creates a happy mood by making Mickey himself a visual focal point on the page. His happy face and body language help enhance this happy feeling, creating a welcome atmosphere.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

The Play-Doh website creates a happy mood using a beaming child as the focal point.

Play-Doh

The Fifi and the Flowertots website has a large smiling Flowertot character in visual focus, creating a happy mood.

Fifi and the Flowertots

Elements From Nature

Children are stimulated by recognizable elements that they can relate to. Because children’s experiences in life are limited, some of the things they are most familiar with are found in nature. Natural elements such as trees, water, snow, and animals are used in the websites shown below. In many cases, these elements are overemphasized through size or simplicity of design.

The Disney website alters its theme depending on what product is being promoted. In this screenshot, they use a Grand Canyon-like landscape to create a memorable visual experience.

Disney

Discovery Kids uses an underwater theme.

Discovery Kids

Club Penguin presents an arctic theme.

Club Penguin

CBC Kids uses a seasonal theme based on simplistic, eye-catching graphics.

CBC Kids

PopCap Games uses a grassy landscape in front of large rays of sun.

PopCap Games

Larger-Than-Life Design

Large design elements have proved to be effective in all types of Web design, demonstrated by the fact that large typography, large buttons, and large call-to-action areas have become commonplace in modern design. Because children are naturally drawn to simple, obvious, and recognizable objects, websites designed for children will increase their effectiveness through the use of large design elements.

Animated Characters

Large, animated, speaking characters are a fascinating and captivating way to grab and hold a child’s attention. Many sites designed for children use this element effectively.

Barbie

Barbie

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Disney Princess

Disney Princess

Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Tank Engine

Barney & Friends

Barney & Friends

Depth in Design

Children like to let their imaginations run wild in a world that looks and feels real. This kind of atmosphere can be created through depth in design elements. This might include extruded shapes, shadows, landscapes, beveled effects, shiny gradients, or floating objects. Often, many of these elements are present in cartoon-like displays, as shown below.

The Webkinz “Adoption Center” uses shadows, a life-like character, and other 3-dimensional elements to create a design that has depth.

Webkinz

Poisson Rouge creates a deep, realistic atmosphere using a window that looks outside at the sun, along with a number of other 3-dimensional elements.

Poisson Rouge

Rainbow Magic creates depth in their design through a Flash-animated landscape scene that moves as the user hovers over different elements.

Rainbow Magic

Navigation and Call-to-Action Areas That Stand Out

In any website design, navigation and call-to-action areas should be focal points. Children’s website designers can oversimplify these areas so that children can navigate easily. Text-based navigation on children’s websites would not be as effective as large buttons and graphics, because they would lack visual focus on a page.

Peppa Pig has a horizontal navigation bar that includes large icons and easy-to-read descriptions for each item.

Peppa Pig

The Winnie The Pooh website incorporates their navigation bar into their “forest” theme, using large wooden graphical elements that won’t be overlooked by the user.

Winnie The Pooh

Sesame Street has an easy-to-locate horizontal navigation bar, along with large call-to-action areas.

Sesame Steet

My Little Pony uses text-based navigation, creating a less-graphical experience, which allows focus on the content elements. This might be ideal in some situations, but on a children’s website a graphic-based navigation bar is more likely to be effective.

My Little Pony

User Interaction

Probably one of the most important ways for a children’s website to succeed is to include elements that allow a child to interact with the site in some way. Children don’t want to do intense reading or research; they want to play and be entertained.

On a typical website, certain design elements are viewed as distracting, unusable, and cumbersome. On a child’s website, those same elements are viewed as an effective means of attracting users.

Interaction Through Animation and Sound

Effects and experiences created with Adobe Flash are discouraged in typical modern Web design, but on children’s sites there is almost no other option. It’s true that JavaScript animation and effects have come a long way because of the many JavaScript libraries available, but the ease with which complex animations can be created with Flash makes this method the first choice for many commercial websites designed for kids.

The Pauly’s Playhouse site, like most of the websites featured in this article, is built entirely in Flash.

Pauly's Playhouse

The Hot Wheels website includes an animated “car of the day” that zooms onto the screen when the page loads, creating visual interaction.

Hot Wheels

Roary the Racing Car has a brief “flash intro” with a “skip” button. This is an old-school trend in typical Web design, but is an effective means of catering to a child-based audience. The intro animates through a road until the characters appear on the horizon. This helps the user feel as though they’re personally entering Roary’s animated world.

Roary the Racing Car

The Yahoo! Kids navigation bar is created with Flash and makes sound effects and animates when its items are hovered over. This trend is very common on many of the sites featured in this article.

Yahoo! Kids

Interaction Through Video

Television is known to captivate child audiences for hours, which is why “Saturday morning cartoons” have for decades been a lucrative part of the broadcast schedules for many TV Networks. Similarly, video on a child’s website adds a fun, interactive, and educational aspect to a site’s content.

Kids’ CBC – Video

Kids' CBC - Video

Yahoo! Kids Movie Guides

Yahoo! Kids Movie Guides

National Geographic Kids – Videos

National Geographic Kids - Videos

Interaction Through Games

What child does not enjoy playing games? One of the most effective ways to entertain, educate or otherwise occupy a child on a website is to include a “games” section. Almost all the websites researched for this article include games that educate, stimulate, and allow direct interaction, while also incorporating many of the design elements already discussed. Below are some examples.

CBeebies – Gordon the Garden Gnome

CBeebies - Gordon the Garden Gnome

Toy Story – Woody’s Big Escape

Toy Story - Woody's Big Escape

Disney Pixar’s World of Cars allows users to create, share, and race their own custom cars.

Disney Pixar - The World of Cars

Printable Elements

Kids like to have something tangible to take with them, to help them remember their experience. Printable pictures and colouring pages allow kids to have a keepsake of their experience, while giving website owners an opportunity to enhance and promote their brand outside of the computer screen. Below are some examples of printable colouring pages on kids’ websites.

Pingu Coloring Pages

Pingu Coloring Pages

Crayola Digi-Color

Crayola Digi-Color

Peppa Pig Colouring Pages

Peppa Pig Colouring Pages

Thomas and Friends Online Colouring

Thomas and Friends Online Colouring

Teletubbies – Print To Color

Teletubbies - Print To Color

Unconventional Methods

We’ve already discussed a number of elements that, in modern typical Web design, are now considered unconventional. Sound, animation, and large obtrusive graphics are often frowned upon in typical Web design. On children’s websites, these elements help the user experience. Other unconventional elements and design choices are discussed below.

Changing the Cursor

This is absolutely viewed as a bad practice in standard Web design, but can be a fun, effective way of adding a playful element to a kids’ website theme. This can be done using dynamic HTML, but is more often done via Flash.

The cursor on the Discovery Kids website turns into a snapping bear trap graphic.

Discovery Kids

The cursor on the Sesame Street website is followed by a yellow star when it hovers over standard HTML elements, and turns into a yellow star surrounded by smaller animated stars when the cursor is moved over clickable Flash elements.

Sesame Street - Games

Talking Navigation

Sometimes a navigation bar will produce sound effects, but in other cases, the navigation links will sound out what they represent in a cheerful voice.

The PBS KIDS navigation bar speaks using children’s voices, when the user hovers over it.

PBS KIDS Navigation Bar

The CBeebies navigation bar uses a voice to sound out the destination of each navigation item.

CBeebies Navigation Bar

The Bob the Builder navigation bar speaks to the user on mouseover.

Bob the Builder Navigation Bar

The Fifi and the Flowertots features a speaking navigation bar.

Fifi and the Flowertots

Breaking the Grid

While traditional modern Web design techniques have embraced the benefits and aesthetics of grid-based design, kids’ websites can break free from an overly structured layout to create a unique world that a child will enjoy experiencing.

This is not to suggest that using a grid as the basis of the design is wrong. It may be beneficial to start with a grid, then design elements outside the grid in a controlled manner. This flexibility in design and layout is demonstrated on a number of the sites already discussed, but is also evident in the navigation bars of the examples below.

The navigation bar on the Spongebob Squarepants website is slanted, going against convention in typical grid-based Web design.

Spongebob Squarepants

The Hannah Montana website features navigation bar graphics that break the grid.

Hanna Montana

The In the Night Garden website features a very unusual navigation bar design that bears little resemblance to that found in a conventionally-structured design.

In the Night Garden

Below are some examples of websites that utilize a more rigid, grid-based format, and as a result are not as unique, memorable, or captivating as some of those already considered in this article.

Kids WB is rigid, and not as memorable.

Kids WB

The Crayola website is somewhat old-school with its grid format and vertical navigation.

Crayola

Neopets is also designed on a more structured grid.

Neopets

Granted, in some cases a stronger grid-based design would be necessary if the audience was an older child audience, as is the case with SI Kids, shown below.

SI Kids

Taking Responsibility

If you are attempting to reach the minds and hearts of young, impressionable people through an online experience, you are entrusted with a weighty responsibility. Children are mentally fragile, and easily affected by what they see, hear, and touch. There are certain factors that need to be addressed on every children’s website, to ensure no harm is being brought to the children.

Promoting Education

Games and other interactive elements should be created not just to promote your company’s brand and identity, but to help educate and train young minds in a beneficial and positive way. Promoting education through games and activities will show that your company cares about the user and how their online experience might affect them in the future.

Online Learning Games from Fisher Price include games that vary according to age group.

Online Learning Games from Fisher Price

Funbrain promotes itself as “The Internet’s #1 Education Site for K-8 Kids and Teachers.”

Funbrain

Information for Parents

Parents will be keeping a close eye on their children’s internet habits. Many children’s sites are aware of this, so they include information that is geared towards parents. Sometimes this is in the form of a tip, as is the case with the Sesame Street games website, or simply a navigation item that points to a parent’s section.

Sesame Street Games includes a “Parent Tip” box.

Sesame Street Games

BEN 10 has a “Parent Stuff” link in their primary navigation bar.

BEN 10

Thomas the Tank Engine includes a “parents” link.

Thomas the Tank Engine

Usability Testing

Finally, one of the best ways to help build a successful online experience for children is through watching children navigate and interact with your site’s games and other unique features. Not all companies will have the budget for extensive testing, but almost all will have the ability to do at least a minimal amount of testing — even if it’s with just one child. This will allow you to see the site through a child’s eyes and make any necessary modifications, the same as would be done in any usability tests.

Companies like Disney, Sesame Street, and PBS, of course, have been studying the behaviour of children for years, so many of the examples showcased above could be utilized to form the basis for a successful children’s website, even if no usability testing is done.

Conclusion

Here is a summary of both conventional and unconventional best practices for designing a website for kids:

Conventional Best Practices

  • Create elements that are large and visually memorable
  • Use bright, vivid colors that stimulate the senses
  • Incorporate elements from nature
  • Create depth in the design
  • Add navigational elements that are large and easy to find
  • Use video
  • Include printable elements
  • Break the grid
  • Make modifications based on usability testing

Unconventional Best Practices

  • Create a happy, playful mood
  • Use animated characters
  • Use graphic-heavy navigation bars
  • Use Flash animation abundantly
  • Embed motions and sounds that trigger on page load
  • Include a “games” section
  • Change the cursor to contribute to the theme
  • Add voices to navigation rollovers
  • Be accountable to both children and parents

A Web designer who has worked on a children’s website would likely say that it was one of the most fun and interesting projects they’ve had the privilege of working on. If you ever have the opportunity to create a user experience that is geared towards children, be sure to follow some of the proven methods demonstrated on many of the sites discussed here, and your website will have a good chance to be a big hit with children.

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Louis Lazaris is a freelance web developer and author based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs about front-end code on Impressive Webs and curates Web Tools Weekly, a weekly newsletter for front-end developers.

  1. 1

    Very interesting article! Never really thought about it up to now :)

    2
  2. 2

    Lovely post…just the thing I was looking for a while. thanks!

    2
  3. 3

    Extremely useful – I’m actually in the middle of designing/building a children’s website right now.

    1
  4. 4

    Surely kids find splash pages, slow loading flash elements and confusing navigation as frustrating as the rest of us.

    0
    • 5

      Agreed, my boy was a bit frustrated waiting for the Sesame St flash to load he banged on my Mac and broke the hard drive!!!

      0
      • 6

        Yeah, I wonder if there’s been any usability testing comparing cluttered designs with simpler ones — or, for that matter, comparing bright designs to muted one. Children aren’t magically different; they’re just small people. I wouldn’t be surprised if these design memes were misguidedly inherited from 90s toy design.

        0
        • 7

          I am a graduate student working on an MFA in graphic design and I have actually conducted a usability study with children testing and comparing portions of the website, http://www.funbrain.com, which uses a complex design with a high number of clicks to access content, with a much simpler website I designed myself.
          I had a small participant group (12 children between the 2nd and 5th grade). I found that in general the participants navigated the simpler site with ease and got to the content in significantly less time than what it took them to navigate and access content on the more complex site.
          However, another finding showed that children (at least in this group) did not necessarily correlate ease of use to overall site preference. While over 80% of the participants performed the task objective on the simpler website in less time, 60% still indicated a preference for the more complex site.
          Because this group was small, more research is clearly needed for conclusive results, however, the logical conclusion I came up with was that much like adults, for children, ease of use is not necessarily related to overall preference. The study took into account other variables such as visual appearance, enjoyment of use, understanding of icons and words, and also user’s cognitive models.
          Another interesting thing I found was that the older children 4th/5th grade seemed to prefer to more complex site because they felt the more simplistic site looked “babyish”. This becomes an issue when trying to design for a large target audience such as k-8. As far as I can tell it is almost impossible to design for a kindergartner and an 8th grader at the same time. One notable exception may be certain Disney cartoons such as “Up” which appeal to people of all ages, including adults.
          Usability expert Jacob Nielsen has also done a major study with children and usability which can be accessed here:
          http://www.useit.com/alertbox/children.html
          There is some excellent research based information in this article, and one of the major points Nielsen makes is that kids don’t like confusing navigation and information architecture any more than adults.
          To me the trickiest part of designing for kids is finding the balance between unique, exciting, complex, animated layouts and ease of use.

          16
        • 8

          I am a graduate student working on a MFA in graphic design and have conducted a usability study comparing an existing website with complex layout and navigation requiring many clicks to access content to a simpler website I designed myself.
          I worked with 12 participants in grades 2-5 having them perform the same objective on each site. One interesting finding indicated that ease of use does not necessarily correlate to overall user preference. Over 80% of the participants completed the tasks in less time on the simpler site, however, 60% still had an overall preference towards the more complex site.
          Other factors were taken into consideration such as visual appeal, enjoyment of use, previous exposure, comprehension of icons and words and the user’s cognitive model.
          Several of the older students 4th/5th grade preferred the more complex site because they felt the simpler site was “babyish”.
          Because I was working with a small sample size more research is clearly needed to obtain conclusive results, however, from the study I would predict that children are much like adults in the sense that usability is not necessarily why they prefer one site or device to another, but the social/ emotional connotation associated with the site or device may take precedence. Also, the study points to the idea that perhaps designing for wide age ranges of children is ineffective, for example designing for k-8 means that a site must have content that appeals both to kindergartners and 8th graders.
          Usability expert Jakob Nielsen has also done a usability study with a larger group of children which can be accessed at:
          http://www.useit.com/alertbox/children.html
          While the study was done in 2002 there are some excellent, foundational principles for designing for kids which are based on research and I believe still pertinent today.

          3
          • 9

            Thanks for posting this – very helpful. Hope you completed your course with great results since this post too.

            1
  5. 10

    I find these websites ugly, cheap, gimmicky and inherently manipulative.
    Unlike adults kids can’t differentiate commercial gimmickry.

    “Health advocacy group find excessive lead levels in toys with Barbie, Disney name.”

    Nice. Hey you should do a web roundup on Cigarette related websites.

    -7
    • 11

      Clearly the close-minded opinion of someone who was never a child and/or does not have any children.

      This may be news to you but, children are not interested in minimalist / business-style / modern designs.

      2
      • 12

        I have two young kids. This is why it is important to me.
        These websites have zero content.

        I don’t think parents should let their kids be exposed to interactive advertisements. Its bad for their brains.

        4
  6. 13

    How about globally? e.g. there are many great looking websites in korea dedicated to kids.

    http://kids.daum.net/
    http://jr.naver.com/
    http://kr.kids.yahoo.com/
    http://www.kebikids.com/

    1
    • 14

      It would not be practical to write about kids sites that are in another language, because I wouldn’t know what the site is about, or what links to visit to view any unique sections or features.

      But thanks for those links, maybe some of the Korean readers can find those useful.

      1
      • 15

        Actually, it’s good to show foreign kids’ sites. With good web design in general, one of the tests you can do is, can you figure out where the major parts of the page is on a site where you can’t read the language? For a kids’ site, can a kid figure out where to go? Depending on the age of the child, they may not be reading yet anyway, or learning a new language (plaza sesamo).
        It would be quite interesting to see similarities between various international childrens’ sites! What design qualities are the same, which are different and why (cultural reasons are neat to learn about). I think a good web developer knows when to use cultural cues and when to keep things neutral (esp with sites that can have an international reach like sesame street).

        2
  7. 16

    not sure we are giving credit to the kids out there. Out of all the examples above none seemed to doing anything exciting, and they all looked very similar, i.e. cartoon, vector based. Nothing has a natural feel to it. Is this what they want our what they get given.

    2
  8. 17

    p.s. looks like a lot of cynical marketing to buy cheap tat.

    2
  9. 18

    “The Fifi and the Flowertots website has a large smiling Flowertot character in visual focus, creating a happy mood.” Dude! That is actually Fifi! I am not british but I know who she is.

    Some of those sites are old and in fact gimmicky. Some are actually very popular among kids, I’ve worked on Fifi myself some years ago and it is quite old design, we wouldn’t change it because I think it works for this target audience pretty well.

    Some examples are just horrid and seem to be here only to make this article longer (Pauly’s Playhouse). I know that you wanted to present whole range of sites, but would be good if you have supported it with some actual results. Some of those sites may have 1 visit a day and some 1 million.

    Kinds can spot commercial lie, indeed, but not so much through design as through content and tone of voice. Younger kids are attracted to colours an “busy-ness” of the site. Growing older they start selecting or rather focusing on content more then on just having fun.

    1
    • 19

      Actually, before researching this article, I had no idea who Fifi was. But technically, I wasn’t really wrong, was I? Isn’t she considered “a flowertot character”? It’s not like I can find her on Wikipedia do discover her true nature! ;)

      And yes, there are some very diverse examples. The problem is, many of the popular and really nice and unique sites all belong to the same companies (Disney, PBS, etc). so I tried to do my best to have a wide range of choices shown. But I did focus a lot on commercially-known stuff.

      1
  10. 20

    Michelle Runowski

    November 27, 2009 9:33 am

    hey great list! Here’s a kids site that I just recently designed and illustrated:

    Ubisoft Petz Park – http://promos.ytv.com/PetzPark/index.asp

    I’ve also done work for Lucky Charms and My Little Pony. You can see those examples on my portfolio site (www.meeshelle.com)

    Thanks again for the list! I’ll be sure to reference these when my next kids project comes along.

    1
  11. 21

    Wow these are such lazy examples. Please take the time to find good designs to reference to.

    1
    • 22

      I have to add to this.

      I feel like most of this post is just padded out to make it seem longer with little real insight given into the examples provided. Just by pointing out that there’s a yellow flower in the corner of the screen that’s obviously a bright colour does not make this a good post on the aesthetics of designing kids websites — it just makes it seem like you spent 5 minutes googling and pasted in what you could find.

      I would much rather have had the article written by someone who currently works behind a Kids website. Where are your references to Nick Junior or Noggin? Both of those sites are hugely popular, yet you’ve gone for the ones who go for the conventional – here’s some animated flash with pretty colours options.

      Having kids, I’ll tell you what kids like in the design of a website: They want it to be very very easy to navigate so large or medium sized buttons that are easily accessible are a must. Next, you need to ensure that you target kids of many ages – kids will want to be able to find the things they are looking for using pictures, so in the case of Nick Jr, pictures of Dora the Explorer or Miley Cyrus make it much easier to find what you’re looking for. Bright colours certainly do make websites more appealing, but what’s more appealing is when kids are able to easily use the sites without having obstrusive advertising (BIG no no for the parents who’s money you’re trying to get), no pop-ups, nothing that will require more than a few short clicks to access it. Kids don’t fully grasp the concept of a browser history so if you want them to be able to easily get back to where they were before, you’ll want to include obvious arrows and icons in your design so that they know where to go.

      As a Web developer with 11 years of experience, I really wish more effort had been put into writing this up.

      3
      • 23

        Addy,

        I did consider Nick jr. but I didn’t see anything worth using that was applicable to the points I was making. I also think their site is very rigid-looking and not as unique.

        And, although it would have been nice to have someone who has worked extensively on kids’ sites, some of the main points of the article were loosely based on an article I read in dotnet magazine about designing sites for kids, so the things that I mentioned were not without solid basis.

        But thank you for your thoughts, you made some good points about usability for children.

        -2
      • 24

        Thanks, Louis. I apologize if my comments seemed a little over-critical. This is a very useful article and I’m glad that the topic was addressed.

        -1
      • 25

        Hey Addy, don’t apologise, you made great points, but it’s not really the article you should be criticising, it’s the websites. The material that Louis has to drawn on is, frankly, 5 years behind the curve.

        I’ve been designing children’s websites for Disney, BBC and Toy companies for about 7 years and I’m completely flabberghasted by the poor quality of design that goes on in the sector.

        I think for years, agencies must have thought that since their user base were unable to articulate the problems with the interface, that they could get away with throwing some acidic colours and rudimentary animation on any old web page and calling it educational.

        In fact, children are much less tolerant of interface clutter. If the average internet user’s attention span can be measured in seconds, then you’re buggered if a child cannot get to what they want within 1 click. And what they want is not a drawing app with a million options or a reskinned platform game or a crappy printout.

        Unfortunately they want video, and lots of it. The fantastic possibilities of interaction do not register on the imaginations of young people- or old people for that matter!

        0
  12. 26

    I would like to see how a child can actually “use” those websites. My son is struggled with the Dora toy with 7 buttons, so I doubt about fantasmagorics interactions.

    1
  13. 27

    websites for kids are THE place to use Flash!

    1
  14. 28

    Here is a good kids/parents site and it’s just simple CSS.

    http://www.catrow.com

    1
  15. 29

    Wow !
    Thats very colorful and playful.
    Nice collection!!!

    1
  16. 30

    Very nice article!

    I like this type of post. It’s kind of like a list and showcase, but you make it very detailed and you actually add some “meat” to the post. Keep up the great work!

    1
  17. 31

    Me and my son (8yo) loved this article. From watching him use the web I would say that this article is on point.

    -1
  18. 32

    Remembering myself when I was a child, I’m pretty sure big characters and games (Disney Pixar’s world, Thomas and friends online coloring and Crayola digi-color) would work for me ;) Some of these are as cluttered and silly as the cartoons or characters they present. I’m going to leave the right to judge to the kids though ;)

    1
  19. 33

    Hasbro has a couple of fun kids sites that just launched: http://hasbrokids.com and http://playskoolkids.com

    1
  20. 34

    John (Human3rror)

    November 27, 2009 5:29 pm

    wow, this is great! thanks for it.

    1
  21. 35

    Thanks, very useful article, and for everyone else addding good tips though I have not done a children web site, neither i was thinking to do one (until now) and actually not sure I’m ready for these critics.

    1
  22. 36

    I never considered that usability principles could change based on audience, but in hindsight, that seems pretty obvious.

    And just because the sites look simpler, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that they’re easier to develop. I imagine a ton of child psychology goes into making an effective kids’ website.

    1
  23. 37

    very nice article. The detail explanations are very good. I love reading every lines. Thanks a lot

    1
  24. 38

    The subject of how to best design websites for kids seems more interesting than the examples shown here would suggest. They’re mostly very mainstream both in design and overtly commercial intent, often based on t.v.,movie, toy and other product tie-in’s.

    These examples suggest that wee need site developed for kids that are interesting and engaging on their own merits, and not just as an offshoot of some other brand or character they cross-promote.

    -1
  25. 39

    It would be great to see some good designs for teenagers.

    0
  26. 40

    I know most of these sites well being a mum…my youngest uses some sites with his touch screen so good navigation is important.

    babytv.com

    is a good site too

    1
  27. 41

    Excellent, as usual. And very comprehensive!

    1
  28. 42

    Very nice ! but check http://www.zozole.pl/ – Poland website

    1
  29. 43

    A Website originally aimed at a younger audience that utilizes many of the techniques from the article is http://www.clubtreasureworld.com. It is an online community to support a Nintendo DS game, and very heavily makes use of “Elements From Nature”, “Depth In Design”, and almost everything else in the article. I think it’s a great example.

    1
  30. 44
  31. 45

    Nice one,
    but where is lego.com page? That’s one of my favorite.


    Dalrin

    -1
  32. 46

    Is there any website that is aimed for kids that doesn’t use flash? All the websites I’ve been to always uses flash.

    -1
  33. 47

    In the nick of time. I will just create a page for the crèche.

    -1
  34. 48

    great article, my sons going to love this! There’s one called reading eggs http://readingeggs.com/, this is a great site that is all about educating young child from an early age, my sons 4 and he finds this site very easy to use and navigate. It’s very well done with super simple navigation and big buttons, the voice overs are crystal clear also. Thanks SM!

    1
  35. 49

    good ….
    nice info

    1
  36. 50

    I can’t believe TreeHouseTV is not on here. It uses many of the elements you described here. My 2 girls (6 and 3 1/2) love the site and can navigate it easily to find the games they prefer.

    1
  37. 51

    Thank you so much for bringing up the topic!
    I’ve been working for five years by now at designing kids program UI and cd-covers. It’s a very complicated field and it certainly doesn’t limit itself to the color choice.
    The thing is, there is such a lack of professional resources and showcases. So thanks again, just let the discussion bloom.

    2
  38. 52

    Some of the designs are just too much blinky-blinky flash-flash! I have kids myself and most of the times they think it is too much going on. They get lost on these sites and don’t find the stuff they have been enjoying the last time.
    Good article though.

    2
  39. 53

    check out this site (Kinderspielplatz Wilde Rübe Berlin-Neukölln) : http://www.wilde-ruebe.de/

    1
  40. 54

    nice article. What about ‘Designing Websites for the Adult Industry’? Is this some kind of taboo? :p

    1
  41. 55

    Here is a site that tries not to sell stuff in the things they do and still be friendly and promote education.

    http://www.tvokids.com

    1
  42. 56

    Thank for giving us a little of colorful websites !

    1
  43. 57

    I think it’s a beautiful collection of kid websites – makes me want to jump in and use them :)

    1
  44. 58

    Really good article. These are excellent examples of best practices for flash sites.

    1
  45. 59

    Great list!

    Unfortunately the online home of Miffy didn’t make it to the list. http://www.miffy.com. It launched a few days ago…

    1
  46. 60

    Louis,

    First off great list and good article. I am the only web designer at a children’s museum that creates educational websites for science and math. It is so great to aware people of all challenges that come with designing for kids. I am particularly happy that you promoting education part of the article.

    There have been a serious of questions in the comments that your findings are out of date and that there are things that you are missing. I hope I can add some insight into a couple challenges that were not mentioned in the article.

    Designing for kids can fall into some serious challenges. A large number of children sites are used in schools as teaching tools as well as educational sites. Schools have the added bonus of technology that is sometimes years off of the current web standards. We often have to create sites for schools that still use IE 5.5 and don’t support Flash. It would be an ideal world if we could design for large screens with fast connections but this just isn’t the case. A large number of kids only get a chance to use computers at school and libraries and sometimes are still restricted to 800×600. Now I’m not saying we have design specifically for the lowest denominator but I think it is also important to keep this in mind. It is also important to think about second language sites for our non-English speaking community.

    These are just a few of the constraints when designing educational kids websites, particularly ones that plan to be used in schools.

    2
  47. 61

    Thanks for using our site when talking about color and navigation. We pride ourselves on creating an experience for our kids that they can feel that they have control over and understand.

    About a week after your article went up, we actually launched a big of redesign of PBS KIDS to try to take things to a more immersive level, and bring more educational games up to our users.

    Hop on over and take a look: http://pbskids.org.

    1
  48. 62

    Thanks for posting this article :D

    1
  49. 63

    nice nd excellent collection..

    -1
  50. 64

    http://www.kidsrgreen.org is an interactive website for children who love
    exploring, enquiring, investigating and discovering the world we live in.

    This exclusive online monthly environmental magazine has many interesting features. Spaceship Earth is a regular feature in every issue. Each one talks about an interesting aspect of our planet earth. Key points supported by illustrations help to explore different environments, plant and animal life, and learn about systems that support the rich life on earth.

    -1
  51. 65

    very excellent! thank you soo much for posting ^_^

    -1
  52. 66

    This is a great site! I love using Squidoo to find stuff for my kids to read, watch, learn and play online. I found a great index of kids websites on http://www.squidoo.com/kidswebsites . It has info on E-Learning, games, kids TV and software. Keep it up!

    -1
  53. 67

    Nice collection but not useful for inspiration….

    -1
  54. 68

    thanks for sharing. the article is really useful and the ideas are very interesting.

    -1
  55. 69

    Gail Cavanaugh

    July 1, 2010 4:05 am

    I found this website to be very useful. I was aware of the role that color plays and I am grateful for all the other tips. Thanks BFA for sharing your findings. I am trying to design an interesting site now, but I need more work! Excellent article!

    -1
  56. 70

    Hi!

    I would appreciate it very much if you could name quality-websites intended especifically to promote children´s learning- i.e. pedagogically valuable, but still attractive for children!

    Thanks!

    -1
    • 71

      Hi Talia, I work on a website that might fit your requirement.
      http://abc.net.au/btn – we help kids understand local (Australia) and world news and teach them the terms and concepts they may not be familiar with.

      -1
  57. 72

    This sight is NOTTTTTT very useful!!!!

    -3
  58. 73

    Nice… Thank you !

    2
  59. 74

    Wow
    Very Nice Work
    I am a school boy & from Pakistan.
    Now a days I am learning web designing & your this information is very help full for me.
    Thanks

    1
  60. 75

    Excellent work!
    One of my personal favorites is Kiddicool. It’s probably designed more for parents than for kids, but it’s still childishly cute :)

    1
  61. 76

    Another lovely site for children http://vipoclub.net/VipoClub/

    1
  62. 77

    Thanks for this article. It’s sometimes a real struggle when it comes to design websites for kids..the fact is that we’re used to some habits and trends in typical modern Web design whereas designing for kids sometimes means to go against some of those habits..

    1
  63. 78

    Re International: here in Victoria, Australia we redesigned our sites several years ago as an education department. We involved students in the design – they were brilliantly honest and sent us back to the drawing board on more than one occasion.
    Their biggest criticism was being patronised.
    We “sell” learning and have 3 different audiences.

    Early Childhood Age about 3 -7 http://www.education.vic.gov.au/child
    Primary 5-12 http://www.education.vic.gov.au/primary
    Secondary 12- 17 http://www.education.vic.gov.au/secondary

    1
  64. 79

    One of the problems I have with this magnificent list is that all of these sites are flash based. This means trouble for the mobile devices such as the iPad. So much good content inaccessible due to this limitation. Then to make matters worse the only way to get this equivalent content is to purchase the app. I have found one site fooflenoffer.com that is still really new but they work great on my phone and iPad and it looks the same on the desktop. I hate mobile versions of websites!

    1
  65. 80

    Thanks! This will help me a lot with my project for creating a flash game for kids. I hope I’ll pass my exam this time (*:

    0
  66. 81

    Thanks, never thought the post would be long. I wonder if web designer should have a speciality., web designer for education / kids
    , web designer for corporate, and so on.

    Again thanks, you helped me in my project

    1
  67. 82

    One thing I would like to add. I work for an Australian kids program and visit a primary school every fortnight to watch the show with them and get their feedback. As part of the visit we ask them to tell us their favourite website. Without a doubt, and despite even being too young to be allowed on it, they always have Facebook as their first preference with Youtube close behind – both sites noticeably void of the elements suggested in this post.
    I believe it is our assumption that kids are attracted to bright colours, cheesy graphics and superfluous animation. They are more compelled by (surprise) content that relates to them and what’s in their real world.

    2
  68. 83

    This article can save a designer tons of research on the subject. Thank you for sharing your expertise with the viewers.

    2
  69. 84

    Thank you so much for the effort of putting it together

    0
  70. 85

    HI! This is a commendable job and all the comments have definitely added to the knowledge quotient. I was looking for information on making a good website for my children’s newspaper. The old website http://www.educationedge.in needed to be revamped. I seem to have hit the gold pot at the bottom of the rainbow! Million thanks. Keep up the good work and many more people benefit.

    0
  71. 86

    In advance, sorry for the grammar.

    I realize that kids inside the target group of some of these websites weren’t even born the time this was written.

    But i still think most of the information is relevant. I was wondering if someone could make “kids” more specific. I think some of these websites are aimed at pre-schoolers and kids in the early fase of primary school. Do you guys think this information is still relevant for a target group between 8 and 12 years old? I believe they don’t really like childish stuff like this anymore, or am i wrong? Having a hard time finding the right words to find research about that specific group.

    0

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