Conor and I recently had this conversation about providing math feedback to the player in First Grade Kids Math.
Ana – In the bubble game, I want to improve the feedback on what was missed and point out the mistakes. Currently it’s a popup – confusing for kids to progress after it.Conor – Put a button in that spot. They can click to see results.Ana – Yeah right! Kids only click a button when you don’t want them to. Button will just confuse them.Conor – Ok, then. How about an optional button. It pops up only if the player makes a mistake. Then they can’t click it any other time.Ana – I had one problem – a dialog. Now I have two – a button and a dialog.Conor – You’re welcome. What else can I help you with 🙂
Less is More
Conor works on enterprise web apps, as I used to. Last year, I would’ve had the same response – just add more options. After a year of designing apps for kids and watching them play, I think about how to show less, not more. Not – What can I add? But – What can I remove? I want to remove the extra dialog without losing the purpose of the game – learning.
Pretty is nice
The second thing I learnt designing kids apps is that presentation matters. As an enterprise app designer, designs were dull and blue-scale. When designing for kids, I add lots of color – purple, pink, green, red, yellow. It makes things pop. See Kids Science Lite for an example.
Watch them play
The third, and most important thing I learnt designing kids app, is to test the apps with a novice. I test the apps for usability by handing it to a kid, and just observing what they do. I don’t tell them how to play. I usually find plenty of things to fix.
Now, if only there was enough time to fix them all!