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Three Types of Children's Informational Web Sites: An Inventory of Design Conventions

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Abstract:

Purpose: Research on Web design conventions has an almost exclusive focus on Web design for adults. There is far less knowledge about Web design for children. For the first time, an overview is presented of the current design conventions for children's informational Web sites.

Method: In this study a large corpus of 100 children's international, informational Web sites from four different domains (science, pets, arts, and health) is analyzed. The instrument for analyzing the Web sites included categories on visual design, navigation and information architecture.

Results: The design conventions identified in this study show that designers of children's informational Web sites often follow general Web design guidelines. This study also shows that there is still much confusion about how to design Web sites for children. A closer look at the data revealed three categories of informational Web sites especially designed for children, diverging from a classical to a playful design approach.

Conclusion: An overview is presented of the current design conventions for children's informational Web sites. The identified design conventions should be further tested and validated as design standards for children's informational Web design. Further, the design of children's informational Web sites is determined by two dimensions of aesthetics; classical and expressive. In this study, expressive aesthetics results in playful visual design or in a total playful interaction design. The effects of playful design on children's affect and cognition will be an important topic in future research on children's digital search behavior.

Keywords: CHILDREN; INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE; INTERFACE DESIGN; USER EXPERIENCE; WEB DESIGN CONVENTIONS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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