I started my iOS adventures about 1.5 years ago. During that time I released 5 apps targeted towards the educational market. This post covers the lessons that I have learned during those 1.5 years and my humble beginnings as an iOS developer.
Know Your Audience:
Although it sound like a common sense but some times we forget about the most important player in iOS application, audience. I conserved myself to a younger audience ages 1-5 years old so most of my applications are teaching alphabets, numbers and basic mathematical operations. The type of audience also dictates in interface design of the application. For younger kids you tend to make everything larger with animation effects to keep them engaged.
Although 4 of my 5 applications display iAds, I still believe that displaying iAds in a kids application is not a good idea. When I released ABC Pop couple of years ago I made it a $.99 cent app. It did sell couple of hundred copies in first few weeks but I was still not satisfied with the overall result. Later on I changed the app to free with iAds enabled. The app got downloaded like crazy and I was making 20-30 times more than the paid app. During the same time Apple sent out an email that it will not be displaying iAds for kids app.
Naturally, I was furious with this decision but my app was not popular enough to be affected by this change. It was only later when I saw my daughter playing my game and constantly launching the iAd by accidentally touching it. Needless to say it was a good decision by Apple to not serve iAds for children’s applications.
The user interaction is considered one of the most important aspects in educational applications. The size of the fonts and the elements become inversely proportional to the audience age. For a game targeted for 2-4 years old everything in the game should be big enough so the user can easily interact with it.
The interaction behavior also gets changed with age. A game targeted for young toddlers should have more elements of interactivity than a game targeted for different age group. Some times it appears to be a good idea to make the background of the game flashy but non-interactive. This is a common misconception since it steals the attention of the young audience from the actual game towards the background.
The worst display of interaction is when the app disguise as a character on the screen to navigate to the buy more apps or launch an in-app purchase. This is like being the evil witch in “Hansel and Gretel” louring the kids with candy.
Shoving app settings right into the application is always a bad idea specially if the app is targeted to young audience. For young audience you must almost always launch the application as quickly as you can. Children have a very small attention span if you give them a number of screens to go through they might just give up without reaching the game.
If you have app settings then put them in the iPhone settings section. This will keep the application clean and simple and kids will be able to enjoy the app instead of messing with the settings.
Sounds and Fonts:
An app without sound is like a car without an engine. Take careful attention when choosing sound effects and background music for kids app. The background music must match with the game play as well as the audience age. If your game dictates something then make sure that the voice is clear and suited for children. Almost always use a female voice when creating kids game. Male voice does not have the same effect as female voice and kids are more inclined to female voice then male voice.
Font selection is critical for kids apps. It is hard to think that a simple thing as font can have astounding effect on the end product but it does. The smaller the age of the audience the more bubbly, floaty the font becomes. Never use adult fonts like Time New Roman in a kids game. Rockwell extra bold is an excellent example of font that is suitable for young kids.
I hope you liked this article and it will help you in creating future educational kid games. You can check out all of my apps at www.azamsharp.com.