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Kids say the darndest things1


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When we think of UX participants, we typically think of adults, but there's a growing generation of kids who are bypassing their parents in their tech savviness. For companies thinking ahead to new technologies, it makes sense to include the insight of their young audience who will soon question "Why wouldn't I do it that way?"

Kids testing and UX research can be fun and insightful, but poses a unique set of challenges. In this session, we'll learn which methodologies work best for kids and some practical tools for making the most out of our time with them.

Published in: Design
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Kids say the darndest things1

  1. 1. UXPA 2015 UX Research with Kids Kids Say The Darndest Things @sarah_eden #UXPA2015 @UEGroup
  2. 2. • Sarah Garcia, Lead Researcher • UEGroup, Silicon Valley • Since 2004 Welcome!
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. “Real kids are shy. You have to talk to them like real people.” -Stan 4
  5. 5. They have opinions. Sometimes you have to draw them out & sometimes you have to reign them in. KIDS ARE REAL PEOPLE! 5
  6. 6. They have preconceived notions. They are influenced by technological/historical constraints, but perhaps less than adults. KIDS ARE REAL PEOPLE! 6
  7. 7. 7
  8. 8. They are open to new ways of doing things. But analog is appealing too! KIDS ARE REAL PEOPLE! 8
  10. 10. 10
  11. 11. 11
  12. 12. VIEWFINDERS! 12
  13. 13. They are dreaming of the future. Why wouldn’t you do it that way? KIDS ARE REAL PEOPLE! 13
  14. 14. Their input matters! Good companies are designing for the future. KIDS ARE REAL PEOPLE! 14
  15. 15. NOW WHAT? 15 How do you find them? What kind of research is appropriate? Who do you pick? What challenges will I face? What kind of questions should I ask? How should I set up the room?
  16. 16. RECRUITING
  17. 17. • Always go through the parents - NDA - Consent to participate - Consent to video - Payment RECRUITING THE RIGHT WAY 17 Templates available on
  18. 18. • Screeners are key - Open ended questions help the screening process - Follow up with a phone call • Too shy vs. too rehearsed • Parent groups/Word of mouth • Consider pairs/siblings RECRUITING THE RIGHT KIDS 18
  19. 19. 19
  20. 20. • Allow parents to preview session script/diaries, etc. • Allow parents to view sessions • Include parents in session EASE PARENTAL CONCERNS 20
  23. 23. Sensory-motor intelligence 0-2 years UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT 23 *As defined by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, 1929 Pre-conceptual thought 2-4 years Intuitive Thought 4-7 years Concrete Operations 8-11 years Formal Operations 11-18 years
  24. 24. 24 *Chart adapted from Sabina Idler,, Feb 2014
  25. 25. “PLAY” USER TESTING 25 4-7 years 4-11 years P r e - c o n c e p t u a l
  26. 26. TRADITIONAL USER TESTING 26 8-18 years
  27. 27. • Kids are setting up their parents’ devices • Kids are getting their own devices • First time experience needs to be accessible and meaningful to all ages OOBE WITH KIDS 27 11-18 years
  28. 28. ETHNOGRAPHIES WITH KIDS 28 2-18 years
  29. 29. DIARY STUDY 29 11-18 years
  30. 30. INTERCEPTIVE TEXTS 30 Helps us get an unexpected snapshot into the lives of the participant. 11-18 years
  31. 31. “What makes you happy?” 31
  32. 32. “Who is watching TV right now?” 32
  35. 35. • Match scenario • Set context: “This is your living room” • Draw similarities between what the child has in real life and what is staged in room • Add personal touches & creature comforts • Minimize camera/recording distractions CREATE THE RIGHT SPACE 35
  36. 36. SPACE MATTERS 36
  37. 37. SPACE MATTERS 37
  40. 40. Takes session time based on cognitive ability into consideration. A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 40 2-4 year olds <20 minutes 5-10 year olds <40 minutes 11-18 year olds <60 minutes
  41. 41. Allows for plenty of “warm up” time. • Ask questions! • Let them talk! • Come down to their level - Ditch your computer and notes • The quality of your research is only as good as their comfortability A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 41
  42. 42. Incorporates something familiar from home. • Lets them be an expert in something • Reminds them what they think A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 42
  43. 43. A Good Test Plan for Kids 43
  44. 44. Sets expectations. - “We are going to play for a little bit, then I’m going to ask you some questions…then we’ll play some more.” - “You are an expert at being a kid—that’s why you are here!” - “I didn’t make any of the games you are going to play today, so you aren’t going to hurt my feelings if there is something you don’t like, or make me feel better if there’s something you do like…So I just want you to tell me the truth about what you think!” A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 44
  45. 45. Is neutral, not leading. A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 45 “We are going to play a fun game for kids your age.” “How easy was that game?” “We’re going to play a game now, and your job is to tell me what you think about it, okay?” “Was that game easy, hard or a little bit hard? vs.
  46. 46. Has the end in mind, but leaves room for unexpected outcomes. • Keep an open mind • Make time to listen A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 46
  47. 47. Incorporates appropriate metrics. • The right metrics • The right amount A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 47
  48. 48. EMOTIONAL JOURNEY 48 file:///.file/id=6571367.65531244 11-18 years
  49. 49. EMOTIONAL JOURNEY 49 file:///.file/id=6571367.65531244
  50. 50. RATING SCALES 50 How much did you like or not like the game? 4-18 years
  51. 51. ANCHORED SCALES 51 1 2 3 4 5 WORST Game I’ve Ever Played: Frogger BEST Game I’ve Ever Played: Tetris X 4-18 years
  52. 52. “If this was an app, would you keep it or delete it?” “Would you tell your friends or a family member about this game, yes or no? How old is that person?” CONTEXTUAL QUESTIONS 52 4-18 years
  53. 53. What was fun? BALANCED QUESTIONS 53 What was not fun? What parts were easy? What parts were hard? 4-18 years
  54. 54. Let’s imagine… PRETENDING 54 Set up an idea, let them finish it… 4-18 years
  55. 55. Break some rules. • Go overboard with empathy • Feel free to change the tone • Be a little silly A GOOD TEST PLAN FOR KIDS… 55
  56. 56. Practice Empathy 56
  57. 57. • Watch the language - It’s not a “test” • It’s all about making the kid feel comfortable - More comfort=better feedback - Give them lots of wiggle room • Hold explanations, encourage discovery - Answer questions with a question • Minimize difficulties - Let the product assume responsibility • Leave the note taking for someone else PUTTING KIDS FIRST 57
  58. 58. • They bring fresh insight • They represent “what’s next” • They provide a unique perspective • They keep you on your toes and help you hone your skills WHY KIDS IN YOUR RESEARCH? 58
  59. 59. • Identify the best person on your team • Write a research plan and make the adjustment for kids • Talk to teachers about techniques • Start talking to kids (Borrow some) • Go for it! (Practice makes better) HOW TO GET STARTED 59 And remember, kids are users…just littler ones.
  60. 60. THANK YOU! B4N HAGS KIT: @sarah_eden