Whether it’s bright vivid colours or interesting narratives, website design for kids needs to be creative, imaginative and original. Kids are responsive to sites that capture their attention with interesting elements and design principles. When designing sites for children, website designers need to consider complex themes and issues that come into play. Here are 10 interesting examples of web design principles and the leading websites that emulate these to stay ahead of the game:
#1 Choosing Vibrant Colour Themes
Colours are a vibrant, fascinating medium of communication with kids. Young minds are geared towards noticing bright, vivid colours that capture attention for long periods of time. Colour choices and combinations need to be selected with care, therefore. While designing the website, vivid colours that visually engage with the young audience are the key. Consider sites like PBS Kids, Herman’s Homepage or Funbrain Playground. Kids will return to a website only if the colours and graphics depict joyful elements. A cheerful and optimistic feel can go the distance when it comes to evoking the interest of young kids.
For example, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse site features powerful website design. Protagonist Mickey Mouse is the focus of the entire site and his smiling face and active persona create a welcoming and energetic atmosphere. Or consider the Play-Doh website. Beaming kids are the focus of the website and the reason for this brand’s phenomenal success with tiny tots.
#2 Opting for Visuals That Communicate Relatedness
Kids respond well to website design that incorporates recognisable elements which are easy to relate to. This includes nature and elements like water, snow, tree and pets. Size and simplicity of design are other essential factors that must be considered. Leading kids brand Disney, for example, has a website which alters the theme depending on the product being promoted.
Discovery Kids has an underwater theme for interesting kids with facts about the aquatic world. Club Penguin, much as this brand’s moniker suggests, is focused on an arctic theme. CBC Kids, on the other hand, depicts eye-catching graphics using a seasonal theme. Each of these classic websites offers examples of how to effectively use objects and themes from nature that are easy to relate to.
#3 The Value of Large Design Elements
Large design elements are a big hit with younger viewers. This includes large typography, larger CTA buttons and larger call-to-action areas. As kids are drawn to recognizable and obvious objects, websites need to have obvious design elements and larger-than-life characters. Animated characters, friendly protagonists and strong titular heroes and heroines hold an appeal for young viewers. This includes sites for Barbie, Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood, Disney Princess, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Barney & Friends.
#4 Use In-Depth Design Elements
Letting the imagination run wild in a world that feels and looks real is something every kid can relate to. For creating this particular type of experience, in-depth design elements are crucial. This includes shadows, extruded shapes, bevelled effects, visual landscapes, floating objects or even shiny gradients. These elements are presented in cartoon type displays. Consider the website for Rainbow Magic, which creates depth in design through the use of animated landscape. As users move across different elements, each come alive when the viewer hovers the mouse over these.
#5 Tap Simple Navigation and Compelling CTAs
Calls-to-action and navigation are the focal points in any website design. Website designers need to simplify these areas so navigation becomes easier. Text-based navigation for kids simply won’t work. Instead, clever use of big buttons and colourful graphics would position your website better when your web marketing strategies are aimed at the younger audience.
#6 Harness Game-Changing Entertainment for a Fun-Filled Ride
One of the most important ways for a kid’s website to succeed is including elements that permit children to interact with the site in different ways. Children don’t want to be caught in a maze of text or a dizzying array of numbers. They want to play games and enjoy interactions. Most website designers make the error of designing sites that are distracting, cumbersome or simply unusable.
An example of how to use graphics effectively and interact with kids is through the Hot Wheels website which features a cartoon car of the day, that zooms around the page while loading the site. This is a Pathwwway Ltd. trend that is catching on.
#7 Cash in on Games
Website design should also incorporate the element of gamification. This remains one of the most effective ways to entertain, inform and engage a child on a website. Websites should include games that educate, encourage interaction and use interesting design elements. Cbeebies Gordon the Garden Gnome is a classic example of this. So is Toy Story’s Woody’s Escape. Disney Pixar even has a World of Cars site that permits kids to create and race their custom cars and even share these.
#8 Think Printables
Having pictures and colouring pages that can be downloaded from your site offer a wonderful way for brands to connect, even when they’re offline. Examples of these include the Crayola Digi Colour printables found on this site. Teletubbies also offers a print-to-colour option.
#9 Use Innovative Cursors That Click With Kids
Add a playful element to the website theme by using dynamic HTML or Flash to transform your cursor.
For example, the cursor on the Discovery Kids website also transforms into a bear trap graphic. Sesame Street, the popular TV show, has a website where the cursor is followed by a star when it hovers over HTML elements and surrounded by smaller stars over Flash elements.
#10 Go For Unique Layouts
Traditional modern web design techniques have embraced a grid-based design, but kids websites can have unique layouts which are creative, imaginative and reflect the unique world of the child. The Spongebob Squarepants website is case in point. The navigation bar on this website is slanted, going against grid-based web design.
So these 10 great examples of website design for kids that your web agency should ideally follow. These trends are creative to the core. Web design is all about understanding the world of the audience. The inner mind of a young viewer is as imaginative and rich as the 3D graphics and customised videos on sites aiming to evoke interest and curiosity in young audiences. Website designers need to remember that just because their audience are children does not mean site design can be taken for granted. Uniqueness and originality matter, because tapping the inner world of a child requires sensitivity and creativity in the web designing process.