Why Kids are the Key to Great UX Design

1. You can learn a lot about Mobile UX from 4 year olds and My Little Pony

No, really. On two recent mobile-based re-designs, educator and UX designer Andrew Smyk chose to swap out a client’s content for ponies (of the My Little Pony variety) and then presented the pony-based prototypes to his four year old daughter to test. Why? Because every interface should be simple enough for a child to navigate.

My Little Pony

Andrew’s experiment provided his team invaluable insight into content placement, expected gestures, and common UI patterns. Here’s what his team learned from his 4-year-old daughter:

  • Regardless of age, organizing by color always works best. Color coding content leads to natural recall, allowing users to navigate your interface much quicker.
  • On first touch, kids tend to press instead of tap. If you have off-canvas content, the user might not reach it if you rely on a tap event to trigger the content into view – it’s wiser to fire events on press.
  • Users won’t wait for blank pages or progress bars to load, but they will wait for content placeholders or skeletons to load.
  • Back buttons on a page are not necessary, users use the one built into their browser.
  • Fitt’s Law states that the larger the size of the touch-target, the better.
  • Kids love to double tap if something seems to be delayed.
  • Simple solutions are elegant and performance is design

2. “I was thinking…” are some of the most dangerous words in Software Development

Dave Todaro – president and COO of Ascendle – explained how those three short words lead projects to change course and quickly go over budget. To keep teams on track and ensure software products get delivered to the client on schedule Dave recommends using agile estimation as team.

3. Javascript is the future of the web

Every single time block in the FSTO schedule included a talk involving Javascript development. Javascript has traditionally been a client-side language, but as the talks at FSTO showed, developers everywhere are abandoning traditional backends for backends powered by Javascript, mostly using Node.Js.

Why? Using Javascript to construct both the server-side and client-side of complex web applications can lead to faster performance, enhanced flexibility, and a better experience for the end-user. Also with the introduction of ES6, Javascript is finally getting a bit easier to work with.

4.  It’s all about the Front-End

“The front-end is where the innovation is going – that’s what the user touches” – Kelly J. Andrews, Principal Developer Evangelist at Syncano

As someone who primarily focuses on the Front-End, this excites me and I couldn’t’ agree more. Keeping the user happy as they browse a website or application is the most important thing. If they’re not happy, they’re not going to stick around to explore your application in depth. Unhappy users = unhappy results for all parties involved. Cheers to innovation and happy users.

5. Toronto Rocks

That’s right, I said it. Toronto is an awesome city, and it’s full of very smart developers. With a coffee shop on every corner, plenty of culture, cool restaurants and bars, and no shortage of craft beer, it’s no surprise that many developers choose to call Toronto home. Make sure you check out Kensington Market next time you’re in town – I’ll definitely be heading back as soon as I can. See you next year Full Stack!