If you are going to design a website for children, you need to really think out-of-the-box! The traditional minimalism, restricted use of colors, call-to-action buttons, etc that you otherwise use in corporate web design, won’t work here.
To design a child-centric website, you must keep the following in mind:
- Very young kids (3-5) – Use themes inspired by nature, soothing colors and a variety of graphics in the layout. You can use 3D animation, sound clips, etc, in the website to make it lively. Avoid text in the website and include some very easy games for play.
- Mid-range (6-8) – Mid-ranged children like to see more texts and play comparatively tougher games. You should use bold texts in the site and offer challenging games to retain their attention.
- Older kids (9-12) – Grabbing the attention of this age group and encouraging them to visit your site regularly is a challenging task. To engage them, offer character creation games and let them create their own team of superheroes. You could also include a facility to play and compete with other players all over the world, online.
Use Bright Colors- You can go wild with color combos in a children’s website design. Use as many bright and lively colors as possible and don’t be afraid about visual clutter. When you add various elements in your web pages, you increase your target audience’s inquisitiveness and grab their attention. You should add lots of pictures in such websites as kids don’t like to read much content; also, wherever you use text in the website, keep it very simple and use large font sizes.
Include Interesting Games to Play- Games make your website popular and create a loyal audience. To retain your target audience’s attention and get repeated visits, you should add games, quizzes and other interactive elements in the website. However, you must know your target audience’s gender to design a game that will interest them. For instance, if the website is targeted at girls, you can design a dress-up game, while car racing games will be more popular in a website for boys.
Besides entertainment, you can design educational games like fill-in-the-blanks to create a word. You can also design a “downloads” page and post some coloring pages there. This way, you can ensure when your young audience is not in front of their computers, they are still playing with the items you have provided them with.
Animated Characters- Animation helps you set the mood of a children’s website. Use animated presentations of their favorite cartoon or comic characters, include sound effects, and make the site interactive. The mouse-over and mouse-click animation is preferred by kids.
Easy Navigation- The navigation process has to be absolutely simple so that children face no difficulty finding what they are looking for. You should use large buttons and graphical icons instead of text links. The “map” layout design is very useful for a children’s website. Don’t make a page so big that it needs scrolling; kids generally don’t scroll a page to find content.
Give Them a Reason to Wait- Due to the heavy use of graphics and Flash animation; children’s websites take a long time to load. To help them wait patiently till your site gets loaded, you should design interesting pre-loaders. Pre-loaders can offer attractive graphics that can hold kids’ attention and prevent them from closing the browser window.