Millions of children use mobile devices for games and other entertainment every day. Even though children themselves are rarely app buyers, this audience is a large segment of the mobile market and has a high potential to bring profit to developers and businesses.
Technology keeps advancing, and the times when kids only got information from books are long gone. Modern children have grown in the age of social networks and mobile apps are used to consume content using their smartphones. So, why not help them by creating an awesome product?
In this article, we'll talk about the kids' app niche and give some practical advice for those seriously interested in developing and promoting mobile apps for children.
Identifying your target audience is not an easy task. For those developing apps for children, this can actually become a trap. To avoid the problems caused by inappropriate positioning and marketing, you need to answer these two important questions:
As for the age, most children aged 4 and older use mobile apps quite consciously and can easily install those on their device. Before this age, the decisions about installs, paid product purchases or in-product purchases are made primarily by the parents.
However, the age ranges used must not exceed 2–3 years. Unlike adults, children grow much faster, so their priorities and values change dynamically as well.
When in the concept stage, you should forget about technology. The idea itself is much more important than the tools needed to implement it. Just watch children: see how they interact with each other, what attracts their attention, and what does not interest them at all. Conducting such, "play tests" with children is not easy; however, these might give you a lot of valuable and useful information for your product.
The children's mobile app market is saturated and diverse, maybe even more saturated than the market for adults. Apart from the breakdown by age, there are three main app types:
Regardless of the type, the biggest challenge — and the biggest advantage at the same time — when creating apps for children is the high demands for quality and the difficulties in creating such content since it requires specialists from different fields.
Design is a huge factor for any app; however, if your target audience is kids, its importance cannot be overstated. Just to be on the safe side, try to make everything brighter and more colourful.
The start screen is the most important as it essentially creates the first impression for the potential audience. Therefore, your intro needs to be eye-catching, rich, and full of color.
Based on surveys, here is the palette of kids' favorite colors:
Studying the best apps for children in your chosen category, you will see that the most successful of those actually use these colors.
As for UX, the interactive elements of the user interface must be clear and stand out compared to all the rest. To highlight such elements, you can use a few simple techniques of children's app design:
Even if you interface is quite simple, children will still be interested if it uses the right colors and contains a range of bright and engaging elements.
Another challenge is good navigation. Children have the tendency to try and touch everything that attracts their attention, and if the navigation is complex and laborious, they might get lost in the app. You can avoid that by using a full-screen menu that makes it easier to access all the various app sections.
The buttons should be large and noticeable, and the icons bright. Add more images and use less text since it is likely that many of your users — kids — will just not be able to read complicated words and sentences.
If an interaction involves multiple steps or options, it's better to divide it into several stages that need to be completed step by step.
Tapping and swiping are the most natural and simple interactions for children. Keep this in mind when developing the methods of interactions with your future product.
While animation is visually pleasant and engaging, do note that if you use it even once, you will have to include it everywhere in your app because static elements will look boring in comparison.
Animation can also be used as a feedback mechanism when an interface element reacts in a certain way during its interaction with the child. This can be especially interesting when you combine it with sound effects.
Sounds like applause or cheerful exclamations and interjections can also be used as a tool to encourage kids to continue playing. Children always react well to music, so, if it is possible to use it in your app, you should definitely consider it.
Remember that analytics and advertising in kids' apps should be subject to serious scrutiny. Under no circumstance should you collect personal data. This holds not just for the data collected directly by you but also for everything you are collecting at the library level. For instance, in the end of 2020, Google removed three popular children apps from its Play Store. The number of installs for them was more than 20 million. Allegedly, those collected children's personal data; however, they probably didn't do it themselves: the collection could in fact be done by the third-party ad and analytics services they had integrated. Whichever it may be, be sure to study the corresponding App Store's and Google Play's policies and do your best to follow them.
Here are some of the methods appropriate to use when marketing your product.
There is no shortage of forums that cater to the audience that is right for you and help promote your app. If you become a respected member of such a forum, your suggestions and apps will be automatically considered valuable. Depending on your role in the community, people will start paying attention to what you have to say and offer. These forums and sites then become an easy way to promote your apps and attract new users.
Another great and effective way to tell parents about your app is by advertising it via social media. YouTube has become the main source of information for children about new games. YouTube's recommendation system ensures that the children watching are being constantly introduced new games and videos based on their search and viewing habits. Furthermore, the platform is becoming more and more popular. Kids now find the recommendations provided by the algorithm as valuable as their friends' advice when searching for mobile games. For reference, Twitch — another streaming platform and YouTube's competitor — is only used by 12% of children looking for information about mobile games.
You might also use the more traditional advertising networks; however, in this case, you should try to appeal to parents since small children are most likely to not use any of these sites (e.g. Facebook).
Naturally, store optimization should not be overlooked as well. A bright and attractive icon and screenshots will allow you to catch the children's eye, while a clear and straightforward description explaining its advantages will help you explain to parents what's going to happen inside and what they are likely to start paying for. And of course, if you make it to the top, you will become more visible to parents looking for ways to entertain their kids.
You can use in-game prompts to ask for detailed feedback, but this should be done very carefully as well. Children often don't see the point in taking time to review things, while they can easily go and give you a bad rating if you interfere with their fun too much.
Difficulties with the content, analytics, and monetization is but the tip of the iceberg. The promotion, localization, testing, CustDev with parents... many a thing awaits those striving to create a successful mobile app for children. However, if you do succeed in creating a good and useful product, it will pay all its costs many times over. Hardly a single parent would skimp on their children's, right?
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