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I've been working for a children's educational start-up for the last few months and struggling to fit user testing into our process.

Typically, when we want to create a new feature we'll do some interviews and observation, build a few concepts... and then rush straight to design & build. There's a few factors why the testing gets skipped, but among the largest is a lack of confidence children will be able to give useful feedback without very high fidelity designs (which can take as long as build does for us).

The problem is not so much "No user testing OMG!" as it is many conversations about UI design that are fairly subjective without real user input (Will they like this layout? colors? extc). Anyone have any advice?

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    I wouldn't treat 'children' as a group with common behaviours: 4 year olds are vastly different from 8 year olds and different again are 13 year olds. You really need to specify which age group you are referring to. – PhillipW Dec 28 '17 at 17:07
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Nielsen/Norman has an interesting article on UX testing with children. Telling kids that they are the experts and letting them test things in friendship pairs are good ideas to try. You might want to really focus on non-verbal feedback, facial expressions, frustration noises, hammering on keyboards or tap-tap-tapping on tablets, etc.

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Testing with children is very common

Testing with children is very common. If you can do tests with animals and babies, obviously you can test with children. However, as PhilipW points out in his comment, not all ages are the same. A common way to differentiate them is 4-6 (pre-reading), 7-10 (early schooling), 11-14 (preadolescence), 14 and over. At least that's the way it is in my country, based on learning cycles. There may be some minor differences in other countries, but the important thing is to consider these age ranges (unless you consider Vygotsky theories of learning which put more emphasis on sociocultural aspects, but that would mean a lot of work to analyze, a lot of work at screening time and you'll need really complex statistical methods).

Is it possible to do low fidelity tests with children?

I think the answer is NO. At least not until 11-14 years old. Low fidelity tests require a very complex degree of abstraction for children in early childhood, who acquire this level of abstraction from 10-11 years. Therefore, doing low fidelity tests will generate false results (or no results at all).

I want to clarify that I have never done such tests and maybe I'm completely off base, I simply base the answer on known theories and previous test we amde with children (just never low fidelity test). For example, for Piaget abstract thinking is only achieved after having passed the sensorimotor stage and concrete thought, and this occurs at approximately 12 years, where it progressively develops until it reaches its consolidation at around 15 years.

Piaget's four stages of intellectual development

the sensorimotor stage, from birth to about age 2; the preoperational stage, from age 2 to about age 7; the concrete operational stage, from age 7 to 11 and the formal operational stage, which begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood.

That is why when teaching children they are shown concrete objects or graphic representations, which is the exact opposite of a low fidelity test.

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in the middle of the year i got the same exact problem.. then i got to know that there is a design concept known as Age Responsive design but i know it not your accurate problem. but we can adapt some concept from here. any way Age responsive design is not widely used now a days. its quite hard to assume. but it will solve very soon in near future.

For making the project successful you can take assumption of child from different ages and classes.. in the book of standard one child have less text and more visualization (pictures , funny cartoon ) they represent some strong story telling.

less text because in this age child are not so love to read but they are quite interested about cartoon and picture and all that visual things. and one more things is that its helps child to make their visualization strong.

and in case of font use simple sans serif font but large in size..

as the things are totally based on large test and more visualization its not seems good to be test on low fidelity. it will too hard to test the project with low fidelity. in fact i think it will not gonna successful. but may its gonna work on high fidelity.

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Depends what you want to test for, and the age range is very important too. If, for example, the task is to solve a simple problem and you want to test if the children can accomplish the task, your prototype could be in the form of a worksheet made interactive. Rule of thumb: if there's a paper and pen analog for the same age group, then a prototype should work.

Without specifics, though, it's hard to give a concrete answer.

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