Apps aimed at children are big business on the App Store. Trust me, I’ve purchased a couple already and my daughter is only 3 months old. But, it seems like there are some practices that are irking parents, so Rian van der Merwe put together four tips for developers who focus on apps aimed at kids. It’s a short article, and I don’t want to give it all away by quoting it extensively here, so I recommend checking out the article on Smashing Magazine’s website.
That being said, I do have some comments on two of the four points van der Merwe brings up in his post.
First, van der Merwe’s point about affordance is a great one that extends well beyond just kid apps. Having interactive elements hiding in plain sight, with no indication that they’re intereactive is just bad design. The Yellow Submarine iBook fits into this category as well. Simply put, if I don’t know something is supposed to happen, why would I touch it in the first place? With children, and I’ve seen this first-hand, using applications quickly becomes about tapping things furiously, and less about enjoying the experience. It’s all chaos, and no order, and that isn’t a great learning environment for a child.
Finally, van der Merwe takes direct aim at the developers who trick youngsters into purchasing in-app upgrades. He puts it politely, telling developers that he’ll never do business with their company again, but I’m going to take it one step further. This practice is easily the most disgusting, and reprehensible thing I’ve ever seen on the App Store. I’d like to recommend that the developers be taken out back and flogged senslessly by four-year-olds. There’s no reason for these types of apps to be approved on the App Store, and I’d love it if Apple told them that they’re not welcome.
That being said, there are a couple of more points put forth by van der Merwe in his post. More specifically he comments on the misplacement of menus and terrible pagination practices by developers. If you’re interested in those two things, we recommend checking out his article.