Kids 4–6: “The Muddy Middle”

by Debra Levin Gelman

5 Reader Comments

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  1. Thank you ALA for posting this snippet from Debra’s new book. Another fantastic and insightful read. The single interesting question I took away was: how much of this article would still ring true if we replaced ‘4 - 6s’ with different, older age groups (i.e. 18 - 34s or ‘40 - 60s’)? I ask this because it feels like younger (and older) users are responding more positively to these exact design methodologies. By this I mean they want instant confirmation of their actions, to feel part of something social at all times, and to be surprised and slightly challenged (or encouraged to ‘win’) inside the applications they use. Any thoughts on this, amazing ALA community? (Love you guys)
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  2. Thanks for the article. I am recently working on an iPad app for preschoolers too, but the most user testing difficulty I face is that find a user. I think because I am still a student and not belong to any organization. Most of the kindergarten or day care organization are so exclusive. I understand the safety is always the most important for them, but the process is very frustrating. Does anyone have similar experience or helpful recourse?
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  3. Hi Robert—Thanks for your comment! You are absolutely right…many of the tools and techniques we use when designing for kids can apply to adult audiences, too. The examples in this chapter around help and feedback and challenge are especially relevant. What you’ll want to do before using these techniques is to (1) make sure that whatever you’re designing for an adult audience lends itself to these approaches; and (2) make sure the interactions are subtle enough to appeal to adults without getting in their way. For example, if a customer is checking their retirement-fund balance, they’re not going to want it to feel social. And, while kids love in-your-face feedback, too much/too intense/too persistent feedback is annoying for adults. Deb
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  4. Hi Amy - Recruitment is probably the hardest part of usability testing with kids, especially if you’re in school and don’t know a lot of people with children. I know it’s hard to get parents, schools and day care centers to allow you to test with their kids , but sometimes if you send a copy of your test plan and screen shots of your app to the schools, they will be more responsive, when they see what you’re trying to accomplish. You can also reach out to local pediatricians’ offices to see if they will post a flyer for you, or other reputable places that attract families (play centers, cafes etc.) Make sure you offer an appropriate stipend for your child participants - this makes you and the study seem more legitimate. Hope this helps! Deb
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  5. Hi Debra, This is an excellent article for all of us who plan to develop an application for kids age 4 - 6, or as you call them “the muddy middle”. I think I will grow a fan of that name :) Anyway, quality applications for kids are still “undiscovered territory” and there’s a lot of potential in that niche.
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