The creators of a long-running educational show for kids, in an effort to make apps more user-friendly and streamlined for our children, have just released their own handbook of app-creation guidelines for developers. Sesame Street Workshop’s Best Practices Guide for Children’s App Development is now available for download for free for anyone who wishes to read it, however, it is geared specifically toward those who develop apps that are marketed toward children.
These guidelines, written by the popular non-profit group, covers a wide scope of issues that may arise while creating an app specifically for children. As most parents know, a full size iPad can tend to be clunky or even cumbersome for little hand to hold and interact with at the same time. Sesame Street Workshop, as a result of over 50 touchscreen studies, addresses these ergonomic issues and makes recommendations that sound great to any parent. For instance, the handbook cites that the most natural and instinctive gesture for children who are interacting with an iPad is a simple ‘tap’ on the screen. For this reason, as any parent could tell you, more complicated movements may be more of a frustration to small children, rather than beneficial. Sesame Street Workshop also recommends that apps support ‘partial completion’ of in-game moves since children have a hard time not lifting their finger after a ‘tap’. While kids also find ‘swiping’ the tablet to be an intuitive gesture, they experience difficulty with any overly complicated motions such as pinching, shaking, or double-tapping. Landscape mode tends to be the preferred method of holding the iPad by small children and Sesame Street Workshop makes recommendations on that as well.
Sesame Street Workshop’s studies also found that children respond best to an app when directions are presented upfront by a friendly adult or character as soon as the application is opened. They also recommend that, while instructions are being given, all interactive parts of the screen should be disabled or hidden so that children do not get distracted and navigate away from the directions.
While the handbook was written to aide developers in creating higher quality apps for children, parents may find useful information to guide them on their quest to download quality apps for their children. With the thousands of children’s apps at our fingertips, we need all the help we can get!
Click here to download and view Sesame Street Workshop’s Best Practices Guide for Children’s App Development.