1st edition — by Gabriela Lopez — Mar. 12, 2007
The Site Type
In today's fast-paced business world, not many designers have the opportunity to work with children's sites; that’s why when I received my first request for a website for kids I was ecstatic. This was an entirely new experience for me, as I am used to designing websites for an older demographic. Kids’ websites usually follow similar layouts to grown-up sites, what makes them different is the use of cute illustrations, fun typography and primary colors.
Illustrations are everywhere, with special emphasis on navigation; each section has its own icon that identifies it. For kindergartens’ illustrations are simple with basic shapes, minimal detail and, if there are any characters, these look friendly and child-like. For example: Blue’s Clues, Dora the Explorer, Rolie Polie Ollie, Barney and Curious George. For kids in primary school, illustrations are detailed, complex and with characters that have stronger and defined personalities some good examples are: Pokemon, Power Rangers, Transformers, Dragon Ball Z, and Bratz.
Appropriate Color Usage
Pastel colors are usually appealing for younger kids, and for older kids the colors are stronger with higher saturation. The idea is to utilize colors that kids are used to seeing and playing with, colors that are associated with fun, candy or toys. Blue, pink, green, yellow and red are great colors for a kid site, on the other hand brown, gray or other earth like colors are too dull. We should also take into consideration the gender of the audience when choosing colors. For a unisex websites there should be a balance between feminine colors, like pink and yellow, and masculine colors, like blue and green. Colors should always be bright, energetic and highly saturated.
Remember that cute font that you added to your Suitcase but never got a chance to use? Well, I have good news for you. One of the most important elements on a kid’s website is typography. There is a great variety out there; some fonts are bubbly, bouncy, hand written, 3D, and sporty. The most important thing is to choose a font that is legible and that perfectly match the theme of your site. Typography it’s the one element that helps you set the mood of the site.
Age Appropriate Design
As with any other project, be conscious of the age range of your audience. The aesthetic of a website for 5 to 7 year olds is quite different from one for 8 to 11 year olds. I know that it doesn't seem like a big difference, but bear in mind that these age ranges are part of the stages of the cognitive development on children. According to Jean Piaget, creator of the Theory of Cognitive Development, children from 2 to 7 years old are on the preoperational stage: they lack perception of quantity, have a short attention span and are developing mental operations, like using symbols, words or pictures to represent objects. From 7 to 11 years old, children are on the concrete operational stage where they develop the use of logic, learn math and are able to arrange and name objects according to size, shape, or any other characteristic.
A website with a fun layout, great typography and fun colors is
PBS Kids. By using a carousel style navigation that introduces the content of the site, it creates a very fun and interesting interaction for kids. Another great kid’s website is
National Geographic Kids. It’s an educational site for older kids with cute icons, strong primary colors and simple flash details that make the site appealing for both parents and children alike. As with the examples above, kids websites should be great to look at, easy to use and just plain fun!
About Guest Writer Gabriela Lopez
Gabriela Lopez is a Senior Designer at NBC Universal in New York City. She has a MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design.Visit her site for more information.