Report – Apps: Standing Out from the Crowd

Posted on: Thursday 07 July 2016 9:48am by Gabrielle Smith


Playfulness, design, UX and marketing are the foundations upon which kids apps are built.  Why are some standout successes whilst others fail?DSC_5887


  • Understand your target age range by testing early.  Ask yourself ‘What do kids want from apps?’
  • Consider that between 80 to 90% of all downloaded apps are used once and then deleted.
  • Keep it simple.  Keep and eye on what others are doing

BAFTA award winning Creative Director and Designer Darren Garrett warned that whilst many apps end up in ‘the digital dustbin’, there is the ‘elusive magical 20 per cent’ that do not, and go on to be very successful.

The panel took a look at the crowded marketplace of kids’ apps to discover what sets apart the successes from the failures, considered how apps can break through to both child and parent, and the importance of how getting it right can change the experience of the app and its overall success.  It needed to reach the child in educative, entertaining and creative ways.

It is vital to find out what the availability of digital products is like for young people, identify the core age range and research how frequently they make use of these products.

The key question ‘what do children want from apps?’ remains a hot topic for Digital Product Manager Becky Palmer who has spent the last decade watching children play with apps, and importantly what it is that makes apps stand out. Key to all the panellists work is mapping out how a child’s play changes as the child ages and she highlights that from birth to seventeen years old, the first use of apps start by being lightly educational to those that reflect the real world.  Experiences are vital to the user and to their interests.

Similarly, Lucy Gill has over a decade’s experience in user research or UX perspective (User Experience), family and ‘start ups’ to international use. She worked on ‘The Good App Guide’ with Fundamentally Children viewing children’s favourite apps from 2015 and providing an extensive report that parents can reference.

In underlining the need to make sure that the challenge by creators is in the game play and not the usability, the need to understand your target age range by testing early and often proved to be essential in her experience.

George Jurgens from Hopster provided a marketing playbook, with clear bullet point advice for any budding app creator or designer. He mentioned that the fact that there are, ‘over four million apps operating on IoS and Google App stores means there is a lot of noise,’ and ‘that research shows you really only have three seconds to make an impression- whether this is your app icon, your price… kids apps are more complicated.’

Having come from a teaching background, Paul Hutson’s interactive app, the Night Zoo Keeper works on the premise that children can create, challenge and write not just at school but at home too.

So, the take home message for making your app stand out from the crowd?

Keep it simple. Keep an eye on what others are doing. Your customer service is your best tool, and every touch point counts. Remember to be human and remember who your audience is. Getting something done is better than perfect.

Event Reports Apps Apps: Standing out from the Crowd CMC 2016 Becky Palmer Darren Garrett fundamentally children George Jurgens kids' app Lucy Gill night zoo keeper Paul Hutson the good app guide

Gabrielle Smith

About the author

Gabrielle Smith

Northumbria University, Ph.D Student

Gabrielle Smith is a second year Ph.D candidate at Northumbria University, Newcastle and is a Film and Television graduate from the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow. Her current research explores the role of the British children’s television presenter. Additionally, Gaby’s passion for working with children and young adults has been… Read more