For this project I didn't have a budget I could spend on research but because of a very specific target audience of this app I knew I can't skip this step. Thankfully there were studies that others have done. Nielsen Norman Group had two studies, one about kids and one about teens, and the summary with most important findings was available for free on their website. Here are some interesting things I learned:
After going through the NNg studies I decided to go a bit deeper and talk to some users. First I interviewed a couple of teachers and parents. What I learned from a teacher who works with kids aged 6-10 is that they know how to use a smartphone and are comfortable with using the search function to find their favorite YouTubers. I also learned that most of them don't own their smartphone so using a tablet for streaming is a likely scenario.
I also observed several kids while they used their streaming app of choice - in most cases this was YouTube. I confirmed that by the age of 3 kids can use YouTube mobile app and are familiar with how it works but they do have trouble hitting adult sized (read: smaller) tap targets.
Based on the research I defined four different user groups based on their needs and stages of physical and cognitive development. These are Parents (18+), Teens (13-17), Older kids (9-12) and Younger kids (6-8).
After that I proceeded with creating a flowchart showing how the app would be organized. The main takeaway are the separate flows for each user category.
After I was done with all the planning I moved on to wireframing and I started with the onboarding flow.
As the flow I defined earlier contains separate flow for each user category I wireframed them as well. After the first step (shown in the previous set) teens and kids get a message letting them know if they will need a parent to help them set up the app.
After I took care of the onboarding screens I moved on to wireframing the main flow. Since the research showed the kids are already familiar with how other apps (especially YouTube) work I decided to stick with the common interaction patterns.
Research shows that kids require a tap area 4 times larger than those suitable for adults (2x2cm vs 1x1cm) so I made sure to increase the size of all targets. Also, since the age range of target user is pretty wide I decided to make the interface grow with them, starting with the biggest tap targets and progressing to regular sized ones as the kids grow and develop their motors skills.
Research also identified that as kids grow and become teens they no longer want to be treated like kids and the content targeted at them shouldn't be too childish. That's why the interface changes in this regards as well becoming less childish and colorful as the kids grow.
Since most parents are concerned with how much time their kids spend in front of the screen, the app includes parental controls that let's parents monitor and control their kids screen time.
There is also a mobile companion app that let's parent control and monitor what their kids are watching without interrupting their experience. This also let's kids feel like they have more freedom which is especially important in case of teens.
After everything else was complete I proceeded with designing the remaining screens - most of them in 3 different versions for different user categories.