BBC Tips for Researching with and Designing for Children

For our November LTUX Manchester event, the amazing Tina and Rosie from the BBC gave us a rundown on how they work with children when they are designing and user testing BBC products.

Our two speakers were;

Tina, a senior designer in the children’s section of the BBC, a large element of her job includes building the CBBC website. Tina admits her designs can have faults and takes this under her chin, referring to them as her ‘ugly baby,’ she is always open to receiving feedback.

Rosie, a design researcher (as part of a team of 7), she looks after several different BBC products / projects including; BBC sport, BBC live, BBC3 & all their children’s channels. Rosie does loads of research and always gets stuck in with user testing, this gives her a really good insight into how children use their products


Their team’s aim as is to answer 3 important questions:
1. What do people want
2. What do people use
3. Can they use our products

On television, CBBC on reaches 25% of 6-12 year olds, this means 1 in 4 children watch CBBC but their traditional reach is declining, which is why digital is so important. CBeebies reaches almost 45% of 0-6 year olds, therefore is a really popular brand in the children’s market.

Tina and Rosie work with 5 personas, with the ages ranging from 3 to 11. The research methodologies they use including; User interviews, focus groups, email studies, web studies, personas and allows them to find insights and understand the users. Qualitative processes takes 5 or 6 months.


So, for the bit I’m sure you are all waiting to read, what are the BBC’s top tips for researching with and designing for children…


1. Checks, chaperones and consent – Anyone under the age of 16 has to be with an adult. Treat kids exactly the same way you would treat adults and explain the process to them thoroughly.
2. Are they sitting comfortably? It is massively important to make sure the environment is comfortable and that they feel safe, let them sit where ever they want, don’t try and lead them in the environment too much.
3. This is not a test, make sure you make this clear- Tell them you’ve not designed the product you are testing and make sure they are being honest throughout. Ensure they know you need their help to fix the product and positively reinforce this whenever they are struggling. ‘I don’t know’ is the perfect answer!
4. Make it playtime – encourage them to play with the product it as fun as possible. The more happy and comfortable they are, the more you will get out of your user testing. Always observe how the children are behaving, and examine why this could be. Recruiting in pairs e.g sibling really enhances their comfort. You usually only get 20 mins max from a child’s attention span, so sure every second counts!
5. Avoid bad language – Don’t use complex language, this will scare them off. Make you’re your questions simple.
6. Ask if it is ‘Good, bad or in somewhere in the middle’ – A simple thumbs up, down or somewhere in the middle is a really great way of getting children to articulate their feedback simply.
7. Silence is golden – Observe what they are doing, don’t let it get awkward! They are aware you are beside them and whether you are interacting or not, if they need a moment leave the room and observe from the outside.
8. Keep an eye on body language- observe what they do as they won’t always tell you what they are thinking.
9. Mix it up, keep it fresh – kids get bored easily. A really great way of doing this is to swap devices! Don’t ask the same questions or same type of questions over and over or they will loose interest very quickly


We hope you enjoyed this blog, we really enjoyed hearing it in the flesh at the BBC building in Media City. If you want to know more about Tina & Rosie you can visit their Twitter profiles (Tina) @digital_orange , (Rosie) @or_it_fitz. 

Categories: Blog, Manchester