The way young people use the web isn't that different from the way adults use it. In fact, studies have shown that most of the time they can successfully navigate and use websites intended for an adult audience.
That's all well and good, but I know my 8 year old son isn't going to get too excited about Amazon or the Department of Energy and Climate Change's website. But they are an easy bunch to please and want a few basic things:
Through the UX phases of websites we have designed and built for children and young people one thing has become evident - they are very vocal about what they want. If you are planning a site specifically aimed at children or a 'Kiddies Corner' section of your main site, take the time to ask children what they think would be cool to include.
When designing websites for children, simplicity and web standards compliance are crucial for your main navigation. But we don't ignore the magic of exploration - youngsters tend to click on anything that looks clickable and delight in any type of visual or aural feedback. As they are often using 2nd or 3rd hand computers, they also get frustrated by bloated Flash driven websites that take an eternity to load - another good reason to build to accepted web standards and accessibility guidelines.
S8080 are in a unique position of having an in-house, award winning digital illustration team. These guys have developed characters, backgrounds, 3D animations and surreal graphic content for some of the biggest brands in the world including The Grammys, Orange, BBC, Channel 4, Adobe and Tesco. They are not freelancers, they are full-time employees. They are the special ingredient that makes S8080's sites for children jump off the screen.
Children want content that is entertaining, funny, colourful, and uses multimedia effects. However, for homepage design and navigation systems, the user interface should be unobtrusive and let kids get to the content as simply as possible. Children enjoy exploration and games, but it should not be a challenge to operate the website itself. The content should be cool, but the design must offer high usability or kids will go elsewhere.