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Little People, Big Challenges: UX with Kids. Presented at Midwest UX 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.


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Conducting UX activities with school-age children is fun and interesting, though it can also be frustrating at times. If you are planning a project whose user group includes children, this is the session for you. These aren’t just little people after all, they have a completely different range of emotional, physical and learning abilities than adults. In this brief session you’ll learn the characteristics of these kids and how they can affect your UX study.

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Little People, Big Challenges: UX with Kids. Presented at Midwest UX 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.

  1. 1. Midwest UXApril 9, 2011<br />Little People, Big Challenges: UX with Kids<br />
  2. 2. Imagination, Wonder, Fun!<br />
  3. 3. Little People…<br />
  4. 4. Not Short Adults<br />Cognitive Skills<br />Reality and make-believe <br />New to computers<br />Reading<br />Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? By Bill Martin Jr / Eric Carle<br />
  5. 5. Physical<br />Little hands and unreliable grasp<br />Computer operations (drag-and-drop)<br />Short in stature<br />Need for movement<br />
  6. 6. Experience & Emotions<br />Interpretation of information, icons<br />Fear, shyness<br />Non-talkers or Chatty<br />
  7. 7. Recruitment<br />
  8. 8. Gain Trust<br />Legitimacy<br />Approach Organizations<br />Rotary Club<br />Parent-Teacher Groups<br />Private Schools<br />Home School Co-ops<br />
  9. 9. Mindful of Family Situations<br />Caring Adults<br />Religious, social<br />Holidays, birthdays, politics<br />Awareness of Media, Internet, TV<br />
  10. 10. Network<br />Ask for recommendations<br />Finder’s fee<br />Participants knowing each other<br />Enjoy experience with friends<br />Can carpool<br />Depends on test<br />Patel and Paulsen<br />
  11. 11. Publicize<br />Social networking<br />Through your site<br /><br />Advertising<br />Parent e-mailing lists and bulletin boards<br />Volunteer sections<br />Fliers<br />
  12. 12. Recruiting Issues<br />Advanced computer users <br />Making games, web pages, etc.<br />Flexible testing hours<br />Arrange care or space for siblings<br />Younger distract<br />Older want to help<br />Sensitive to concerns about child’s abilities<br />
  13. 13. Protecting Kids<br />
  14. 14. Physical Considerations<br />Child-friendly <br />Child-sized chairs and tables<br />Avoid distraction<br />Lab equipment <br />Effective yet unobtrusive <br />Check for safety<br />
  15. 15. On Location<br />Classroom<br />Least interaction<br />Best opportunity for comparison<br />Home<br />Most interaction and deepest understanding<br />Most time consuming per subject<br />Other situations (playgrounds, museums, etc.)<br />Difficult to plan<br />Hard to know who you’re observing<br />Use most caution in this situation<br />
  16. 16. Guidance<br />Never be alone with child<br />No full names in any documentation<br />No discipline unless they are in danger<br />Photograph only with permission<br />Casual dress<br />
  17. 17. Welcome Caring Adults<br />Child’s Choice<br />Benefits of Adult in Room<br />Gives child sense of security<br />Can help “adjust” child when needed<br />May Need Guidance<br />“Lead” child or pressure child to perform<br />Engage facilitator in side conversation<br />
  18. 18. Caring Adult-Child Pairs<br />Used to having support available<br />Expect to be used with adult<br />First time use <br />Educational products<br />Offline activities<br />Interaction <br />Relationship issues show up<br />Coping skills vary – encourage to be supportive<br />
  19. 19. Consent<br />Adult must sign any agreement<br />Activity for child while waiting<br />Designs "top-secret" <br />
  20. 20. Online Information Gathering<br />COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule)<br />Became effective on April 21, 2000.<br />Operators Must:<br />Post privacy policy;<br />Obtain verifiable parental consent;<br />Prohibit disclosure of information to third parties;<br />Maintain confidentiality, security, and integrity of information.<br /> More at:<br />
  21. 21. Conducting Research<br />
  22. 22. In the Classroom<br />Schedule carefully <br />Levels of approval<br />Make concessions <br />Teacher<br />Used to being observed<br />Hectic - prepare for change<br />
  23. 23. In the Home<br />Can be chaotic<br />Distractions abound<br />Go with the flow<br />Pets (consider your allergies)<br />Show their room<br />
  24. 24. Test Your Materials<br />Child’s ability level<br />Rotate tasks – more tired at end<br />Prepare varying levels of hints<br />Scary disembodied voice<br />Speak softly<br />Give warning before speaking<br />Tiny voices, close mics<br />Pressure zone microphones<br />Hanna, Risden, and Alexander<br />
  25. 25. Control & Trust<br />New experience for child<br />Office and equipment<br />Different than home <br />Answer Questions<br />About gear<br />Go behind one-way mirrors<br />Match experience<br />Adjust to preference<br />Slower cursor speed<br />Resolution<br />
  26. 26. Set Expectations<br />Caring adult<br />Allow child to try things out and make guesses<br />Help with hints if gets stuck<br />To Child<br />Use simple language<br />We’ll have fun!<br />Warm-up activity - get to know them<br />Avoid suggesting<br />Eager to please adults<br />
  27. 27. During Testing<br />Keep it short<br />Restate tasks as needed<br />Encouragement and feedback<br />"You really worked at that!"<br />"You did that all on your own!"<br />Reminders to pay attention<br />Free exploration time<br />Hanna, Risden, and Alexander<br />
  28. 28. Communicate Emotions<br />Behavior<br />Non-talker <br />Trying to “break” product<br />Less verbally capable children <br />Explain what you need to know<br />Memory aids<br />From left to right 'boring, 'don't understand', 'fun', <br />'too difficult, 'too slow', 'childish', 'stupid/strange', 'too scary'. <br />Barendregt and Bekker<br />
  29. 29. Post-Study<br />Children are tired<br />May be upset test is over<br />Thank them!<br />Comment on how helpful they were<br />Hard work = see exactly what needs to be fixed<br />
  30. 30. Incentives<br />Classrooms<br />Thank entire class and teacher<br />Gift to class (pizza day, etc.) - optional<br />Homes<br />Appropriate for age and economic class<br />Bring extras for siblings<br />Gift certificates<br />
  31. 31. Testing/Researching Children<br />Create usable, satisfying products for children<br />Be prepared for anything<br />Unpredictable, challenging and fun!<br />
  32. 32. Carol Smith<br />@carologic<br /><br /> <br />@iTwixie<br /><br /><br />
  33. 33. References<br />Hanna, L., Risden, K., and Alexander, K. 1997. Guidelines for usability testing with children. interactions 4, 5 (Sep. 1997), 9-14. DOI=<br />Barendregt, W., Bekker, M.M. 2005. Extended guidelines for usability (and fun) testing with children. SIGCHI.NL Conference 2005, HCI Close to You, 13 October Den Haag. Den Haag, NL<br />Patel, M. and Paulsen, C. 2002. "Strategies for Recruiting Children for Usability Tests." Usability Professionals Association, 11th Annual Conference. <br />Ames, Louise Bates, Ph.D., et. all. Your __ Year-Old, Series, Gesell Institute of Human Development.<br />