Making an iPad app for children

Who’d have thought it was so complicated?!

Prerequisites for a children’s app: An amazing bedtime story and narrator (Mike Brown); an amazing Illustrator (Stephen Heaton); an amazing composer (Owain Llwyd); incredibly supportive family (wife, parents, in-laws and friends) to help an app developer to bring it all together.

What have I learned?

  • It’s a lot of fun.
  • It’s a lot of hard work.
  • Children are not scared to say exactly what they think about something and that can be scary but it’s also very refreshing.
  • Some children like to be less active and watch the story auto-play itself.
  • Some children like to do everything themselves such as press buttons and turn pages.
  • All children (as young as 3) can definitely operate iPads and understand tap-to-view overlay user interfaces much better than our parents can.
  • Some children want games to play.
  • Children need to be protected from credit / feedback screens (I had a lot of fun doing that!)
  • Children really take to an ‘elder’ figure narrating the story. In this case, my father’s voice. Almost universally, every child who’s tested the app loves his voice.
  • Children really want to touch everything.

How did I learn this? I have the amazing #fourlittletesters (four children aged 3 to 9 from Perth, Australia) to thank and a boy called Max who’s 6 years old (there have been other testers too. The #fourlittletesters, led by their father, Andy, tested a beta version of my app and sent back amazingly detailed feedback including suggestions about how it could be improved and a review of the app as it stood. The feedback was extremely constructive and not at all negative. These were, after all, comments from potential customers. It’s good to listen to customer feedback.

I listened and added several exciting new features to the app. These updates were very well received by everyone.

I will note that as a spare-time indi developer it is impossible to please everyone and add every single feature. However at least the “top 5” most important features have been added. Overall, it made the app feel that much better and more polished.

That’s not the end of this story, yet. I have more work to do. There are two more ingredients required… pixy dust and magic. Lots of it.

After all that pixy dust is applied the app must then pass it’s greatest test of all, the Apple Review. Is it “app” enough? Who knows? There are no guarantees the past few months haven’t been a complete waste of time.

Please check back for updates.