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User experience love: drag X to quit

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Here at Klick Health, we love our iPads. Perhaps not surprisingly, so do our kids! My wife and I made a decision to allow our son to explore some of the many iPad apps that have been designed for preschoolers. My boy loves learning numbers, shapes, and colors, all using the iPad’s intuitive touchscreen interface.

One recurring issue with many apps for kids is that they don’t take into account that toddlers’ fine motor skills aren’t yet fully developed. Specifically, my son will accidentally tap an app’s “exit” button quite often. These buttons are typically displayed in one corner of the screen and are very easy to hit by accident. One moment he’s laughing and playing with virtual puzzles, the next he’s staring in confusion at the app’s main menu.

Barnyard Games’ solution to the dexterity problem

An app called “Barnyard Games” offers a smart and elegant solution. Instead simply tapping an “exit” button, users are required to drag a red “X” from one corner of the screen to the opposite corner. This more deliberate gesture means it is almost impossible to exit an app by accident. My son is nearly two years old and was able to master this new action after I showed him how to do it once or twice.

The same type of user-centred design should always apply when building apps or websites for users with physical limitations. Product websites for users with rheumatoid arthritis need to have large buttons that are easy to click. Apps for users with vision impairments should have a high-contrast option and text-sizing tools. Ensuring your designs make it simple for your target audience to interact with isn’t nice to have, it’s essential to success.

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