Evaluating Children's Interactive Products

Principles and Practices for Interaction Designers


  • Panos Markopoulos, Eindhoven University of Technology, Belgium
  • Janet Read, University of Central Lancashire, UK
  • Stuart MacFarlane, University of Central Lancashire, UK
  • Johanna Hoysniemi, Movial Corporation, Finland

Interactive products designed for children—whether toys, games, educational products, or websites—are increasingly embedded in children’s lives and school experiences. Making these products safe, effective, and entertaining requires new methodologies for carrying out sound and unbiased evaluations for these users with unique requirements, environments, and ethical considerations. This book directly addresses this need by thoroughly covering the evaluation of all types of interactive technology for children. Based on the authors' workshops, conference courses, and own design experience and research, this highly practical book reads like a handbook, while being thoroughly grounded in the latest research. Throughout, the authors illustrate techniques and principles with numerous mini case studies and highlight practical information in tips and exercises and conclude with three in-depth case studies. Essential reading for usability experts, product developers, and researchers in the field.
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Professionals and students who are working on the design of a product whose intended audience is children. This market includes usability experts, product developers of web sites, software--whether games or educational or both--and researchers who are building or evaluating products in the lab for R&D or prototype/projects. Three of the four authors are academics and teach courses on this, and one school, the University of Central Lancashire has a degree program in this area. So there are some limited opportunities for adoptions but there are some.


Book information

  • Published: May 2008
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-374111-0


Evaluating Children’s Interactive Products provides numerous practical suggestions based on the authors’ considerable experience and wisdom. The authors present a powerful case for the importance of beginning the evaluation process by spending time with children and attempting to see the world through their eyes. The emphasis on the often overlooked aspects of evaluation, ,is refreshing and makes this book a “must read” for anyone truly dedicated to providing valuable insight on behalf of children and improving the products intended for their use. - Kristin Alexander, Group Research Manager, Microsoft Evaluating Children's Interactive Products gives a great introduction to a wide range of methods for working with children. It is an excellent resource for students and researchers alike. - Dr Judy Robertson, Lecturer, Computer Science, Heriot-Watt University. There is nothing more important than improving the lives of children. This book offers a way for industry professionals and academic researchers to understand the needs of young people, which can lead the way to better new technologies. There is a wealth of information, experience, and inspiration that the authors share that will ask you to first consider, or spend some time re-examining, what is possible and important for children.- Allison Druin, Director, Human-Computer Interaction Lab, Associate Professor, University of Maryland Evaluating Children’s Interactive Products fills a void in the literature by providing practical advice based on the authors’ experience, a thorough survey of evaluation methods, as well as valuable real world examples. It brings together valuable information and experiences that would have previously required reading dozens of papers and several books. The authors have been heavily involved in the interaction design and children research community and it shows in the breadth and depth of topics covered, and in the content being up-to-date. This is a useful book for people in industry and for researchers in academia who are interested in conducting evaluations of technologies for children. The writing style is easy to follow and appropriate for native speakers of English as well as for those who are fluent in English but for whom English is a second language. – Juan Pablo Hourcade, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Iowa

Table of Contents

PART 1 CHILDREN AND TECHNOLOGY1 WHAT IS A CHILDAge and Children Learning about Children Theories of Child Development Perspectives on Child Development Typical Stages of Development Child Development and the Evaluation of Interactive Products The Temperament of Children Reducing the Effects of Temperament Conclusion Further Reading 2 CHILDREN AND INTERACTIVE TECHNOLOGY Interactive Products Interactive Products for Children How Children Use Interactive Products How Good Is Interactive Technology for Children? Gender and Technology Summary Further Reading 3 THE INTERACTIVE PRODUCT LIFECYCLE Interaction Design and Evaluation The Product Lifecycle Using Prototypes in Evaluation Involving Children in Design and Evaluation Further Reading PART 2 EVALUATING WITH AND FOR CHILDREN4 ETHICAL PRACTICE IN EVALUATIONS Ethical Principles, Approaches, and Codes Safety and Risk Assessment Consent Inducements for Taking Part Ethical Selection of Participants Privacy Getting Advice and Permission Further Reading 5 PLANNING THE EVALUATION STUDY Defining the Purpose of the Evaluation Evaluation Criteria Choosing Evaluation Methods Reliability of Evaluation Results Field versus Lab: More than Just a Location! The Evaluation Plan—Why Make One? Summary Further Reading 6 BEFORE THE EVALUATION Deciding on People and Places Preparing Technology and Evaluation Instruments Planning the Day Training Evaluators and Pilot-Testing Communicating the Detail Next Stages 7 DURING THE EVALUATION Arrival and Setup Introductions and Instructions Managing Time and Space Dealing with Problems on the Day Closing the Evaluation 8 AFTER THE EVALUATION Getting the Data into Shape Coding and Analyzing the Data Reporting Results Care of Data Reflecting on the Process PART 3 METHODS OF EVALUATION9 RECORDING AND LOGGING Automated Logging Video and Audio Gaze-Tracking Summary Further Reading 10 OBSERVATION METHODS Types of Observations Structured Observation Using Standard Coding Schemes Summary 11 VERBALIZATION METHODS Types of Verbalization Methods Dialogue between the Administrator and the Testers Interaction between Testers Methodological Issues and Verbalization Methods Performance of Verbalization Methods Summary Further Reading 12 THE WIZARD OF OZ METHOD Wizard of Oz Studies A Walkthrough of a Wizard of Oz Evaluation Stages in Planning a Wizard of Oz Study Problems Summary Further Reading 13 SURVEY METHODS What Is a Survey? Designing a Survey Designing the Questions Carrying Out the Survey The Fun Toolkit Summary Further Reading 14 DIARIES Field Evaluation Using Diaries to Evaluate Interactive Products with Children The Parent Evaluator Method Summary Further Reading 15 INSPECTION METHODS Heuristic Evaluation The SEEM Method Persona-Based Evaluation How Good Are Inspection Methods? Summary Further Reading PART 4 CASE STUDIES16 CASE STUDY 1: GAME-CONTROLLING GESTURES ININTERACTIVE GAMES Finding a Suitable Evaluation Method The Study Procedure Children’s Movement Analysis Results from the Study Commentary on the Case Study Summary 17 CASE STUDY 2: EMBEDDING EVALUATION IN THEDESIGN OF A PERVASIVE GAME CONCEPT The Design Project Context Children and the Design of Camelot The Mission from Mars Method Paper Prototypes with Observations and Picture Cards Interviews Evaluating Interaction Styles with Peer Tutoring Play Testing of Camelot Summary 18 CASE STUDY 3: USING SURVEY METHODS AND EFFICIENCY METRICS The Study Results from the Study Summary