最近我们发表了第4版UX Design for Children报告和第3版UX Design for Teenagersreport, which covered the usability of sites and apps for minors aged 3–12 and 13–17, respectively.

Conducting user research with young users requires additional considerations compared with studies with adult participants. For example, from a legal perspective, children and teens cannot give their own permission to participate in the study and therefore we must work with their parents or legal guardians to get formal permission. Additionally, children and teenagers tend to get distracted more easily than adults, they often read at a lower proficiency level, and their research capabilities are inferior. With these problems in mind, we share some tips for recruiting, study preparation, and facilitation with minors.


Effective participant recruitingis always essential to a successful usability process. But when working with youths, we need to give special care to the number and type of participants we recruit, as well as to the compensation that they receive. The differences between a 7- and 17- year old are much more pronounced than, for example, a 37- and 47-year old. For this reason, segmenting an accurate user group is particularly important.


Approximatelyone in nine recruited users fail to show upto a study. When we’re working with minors, there are now at least two people that can affect the attendance of the participant: the parent and the child. (Sometimes, there could be even four, since some sessions involve friendship dyads.)


Absent participants and study interruptions are unavoidable. However, you can protect yourself from rework and lost time by recruiting a few more participants than what you’d normally need in a similar adult-based study.

2. Don’t group all minors together. Segment users based on varying levels of maturity.

Thepower law of learning显示任务时间随该任务的重复次数减少。对于其他用户来说,这项法律对年轻人来说是真实的。每年,青年都会获得更多的界面经验,因此他们在使用网络时变得更快,更好地更好。除了技能级谱,还存在跨越年龄的内容兴趣的变化。

When designing for kids, there are certaincognitiveandphysicalconsiderations to keep in mind. For example, children aged 3 to 5 may be comfortable only with touchscreen interfaces; however, by the time they’re 6, they will likely be able to use a trackpad. This difference is important to the way we set up our labs and prepare tasks.

In the case of teenagers, a 13- or 14-year old likely has different interests than a 16- or -17-year old — presumably because 13- and 14-year-olds have yet to reach high school, a pivotal change in perceived maturity.

To get relevant study findings and design for the right audience, recruit appropriate age and interest groups.

3. Determine an age-appropriate incentive.

Cash is always appreciated as an incentive. However, to ensure that minors are content with their compensation, consider alternative or additional incentives.

Gift cards to frequently visited vendors can be an appropriate substitute to cash incentives. For example, if you’re testing a site specifically aimed at children or teenagers, a gift card to the site or a free membership would make sense. However, this gift is best for older minors that can shop online on their own.



4. Emphasize the need for sociable participants.

年轻人可能会觉得不舒服说with an unfamiliar adult in a lab setting. It’s a unique and strange experience for them.

As researchers, there are things we can do in task preparation, environment setup, and facilitation to make youths feel more at ease, but the first step is getting the right participants. Reserved participants are difficult to facilitate. This is another reason we recommend recruiting more participants than you need — just in case you get several shy participants.

Task Writing and Study Prep

Writing good usability tasksis an art form. When it comes to working with youths, task writing needs to be varied, age-appropriate, and simple, without providing too many hints.

5. Use age-appropriate language in written tasks. Aim for simple tasks.


In addition to writing clearly, don’t create tasks of unrealistically high complexity. For example, asking a 7-year-old to create an account and go through an ecommerce checkout workflow is not realistic and might make participants feel like they’re being tested (even though they’re not).

Although task difficulty and wording might be different for a child or teen compared to an adult, it is important to make sure the task is stillrealistic and actionable.

6. Avoid providing clues.

Be careful not to use UI-specific language in task writing. Tasks that include terms used in the interface bias users.


7. Prepare a plethora of varied tasks because participant interests vary.

When testing any interface, it is important to prepare different types of tasks. If you only have one or two types of tasks prepared and a user gets bored and unengaged, it’s almost a waste of the session. Children and teens are even more likely than adults to get bored and stop providing valuable insights.


Additionally, children and teens might work very quickly through tasks. In our studies, youths tended to be more likely to stop researching once they’ve found an answer rather than continuing research to confirm they’ve found the right answer.

Prepare various tasks to keep minors engaged and interested so that they will continue to provide valuable responses and interactions with the system. Likewise, formulating extra tasks can guarantee you don’t end a session early because your participant ran out of things to do.

8. Schedule sessions no longer than 60–90 minutes and leave enough time for breaks in between.

Kids can get tired quickly and lose motivation if they’re working for too long. In our study of children aged 3–12, we conducted 60-minute sessions. This was a good amount of time to give an introduction to the study, conduct a brief interview, and work through multiple tasks.

With teenage participants, we conducted 90-minute sessions. This lengthened time accounted for tasks of a higher complexity, more talkative teenagers, and more device switching (laptop, tablet, mobile).

9. Consider conducting sessions in friendship dyads with children 6- to 8-years old.



As mentioned earlier, usability labs can be intimidating to youths. The testing environment should be as pleasant as possible, while also devoid of potential distractions.

For example, a large window overlooking a busy street might seem appealing to you (as someone stuck inside all day), but to a child, it’s a distraction waiting to happen. Either choose a different windowless room or ensure that the participant is facing away from the window (while also avoiding screen glare).

Other considerations for a child-friendly lab include having tissues on hand to wipe runny noses, a chair without wheels to prevent rolling around, and perhaps a booster seat (if you’re testing with users that may not be able to see the device from their seat easily).



11. Confirm that parents signed the consent forms.

Working with minors requires parental approval; minors cannot sign consent forms on their own behalf. In our usability testing with older teenagers (16–17-year-olds), it was not uncommon for them to show up alone. Providing the consent form ahead of time allowed them to have their parent complete the form beforehand. (Note: In theory, a participant could forge a signature. In our process, a recruiter spoke with a parent first and then with a child.)

12. Be prepared for siblings and parents to come along.

Youths frequently needed someone to bring them to the study. In many cases, the participant arrived with a parent and a sibling. In these circumstances, it is important to note that the participant may not be the only nervous one. Parents may also be uneasy about usability testing if they’ve never participated in research themselves. For this reason, we offer parents the option to wait outside of the usability lab (this could be behind glass or just outside of the room) or sit in the room (in that order).

If parents decide to wait in the room, place them in a seat outside of the participant’s view and remind them to be quiet as the session begins to avoid distracting the participant throughout the study.

13. Be thoughtful when asking minors to think aloud.

让年轻人到think aloudis often challenging. For some participants, it might feel unnatural; others may simply forget to do it after a few minutes.


During our research with teenagers, we asked them to read a think-aloud document out loud. This document is an alternative to ademo video. Reading the document served as a warmup to the actual study and helped teens understand what was being asked of them. Although this method was generally successful, some participants were still quieter than others and needed periodicreminders to think aloud.


Suits, lab coats, or any other authoritative apparel can make young participants uncomfortable and less willing to share. Dress casually but professional. For example, nice jeans and a sweater, button-up shirt, or blouse can work well.

15. Be friendly and establish a relationship, but remain neutral.

When conducting usability tests with minors, the facilitator should not look or act too authoritative. This presence could alienate minors and make them feel uncomfortable and hesitant about sharing their thoughts and feelings. In addition to being friendly and approachable, remind users that they’re not being tested, and there is no right or wrong answer.

For example, young children (under 5), tend to be disrupted by the “poker face” technique that’s appropriate for adult participants. If they see that the facilitator isn’t reacting to what they’re doing, the child tends to become quieter and less responsive.



通常可用性参与者觉得公关essure to perform well, no matter how many times you tell them that you’re not testing them. By starting with something simple, you build confidence.

In our research with youths, we often began by asking them to talk about themselves, show a website they like, or talk about their online experiences. This initial sharing, where they were in control, served as a warmup and got them comfortable talking. Once they were relaxed, we moved on to a simple, age-appropriate task.


Usability testing with minors requires special considerations to ensure effective results. Begin by recruiting participants based on their level of maturity and interest- or age-group to obtain relevant findings. Thoughtfully consider incentives that your child or teen participants would enjoy. Be sure to prepare an abundance of age-appropriate tasks. Design a child-friendly lab and anticipate parents or siblings staying in the room. Finally, on the day of the study, dress casually and present yourself as a friendly yet professional figure.