6 Steps for Building a Kid-Friendly Website

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on April 12, 2011
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If you have a shop or product designed especially for children, then you’ll want to make a website that appeals to kids and is easy to use… and complies with federal regulations on marketing to an underage crowd. Here are some of the considerations you should be thinking about when you build your site if you have children in mind as your customers.

1)   Keep in line with COPPA. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), enacted by Congress in 1998, serves to protect children younger than 13 from distributing any personal information online without first getting consent from their parents. If your website requests personal information from its users, you must include a clear privacy policy explaining the types of information collected, how the information will be used, whether the information will be distributed to third parties, and a request for parental consent for information provided by children under age 13. For the full COPPA guidelines, visit the official site.

2)   Focus on bright colors and fun graphics. Children are stimulated by vivid colors like bright reds and yellows, so be bold with your design: If children are your market, don’t be afraid to fill the site with splashes of color. Animated figures are always a hit, too, but make sure that you have the rights to any stock images you use: Take a look through a stock image site like Fotosearch or iStockphoto to find royalty-free, kid-friendly images.

3)   Include large, clear navigation icons. Make your website easy for even the youngest children to use by including simple, picture-based buttons to go back, forward, home, and to navigate to different category areas.

4)   Provide information for parents. Most parents keep a close eye on their young children’s internet habits, so create a more detailed “parents” section filled with information about your company, store, and products, so they can make an informed decision for their children.

5)   Be careful where you link. You never want to include links to sites with even remotely obscene content or potential malware, but it’s even more important to make sure that you’re linking only to reputable sites when you expect children to visit your website. Verify that all outgoing links are to safe, educational sites for kids, and double-check the links frequently to make sure the sites haven’t changed. If in doubt, leave it out.

6)   Take the site for a test-drive. There’s no better way to see how well your site appeals to kids than to watch them use it. Hold a “focus group” among your own children’s friends, and give them all a chance to test out the new site before it goes live. Take account of their feedback, and pay attention to how easily they are able to move from one page to another, keeping notes if they find themselves confused by certain words or symbols. Use the lessons you learn in the focus group to tweak your design before it goes live.

kathryn

Kathryn Hawkins is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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