A Participatory Design Approach to Information Architecture Design for Children

Joon-Sang Baek, Kun Pyo Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


A design process that involves the participation of children should effectively elicit the needs of child users by considering characteristics such as their age-appropriate levels of cognitive ability, shyness, language skills, and motor-sensory capabilities. Since the 1960s, a variety of methods and guidelines have emerged specialising in children. Participatory design deals with the problem of enabling users to participate in the design process and with the task of generating ideas by means of generative toolkits and workshops. Hence, participatory design enables designers to look at problems from a child's standpoint and, simultaneously, deal with childhood traits such as shyness and immature language skills. This paper introduces two participatory design toolkits: namely Info Block and Info Tree. These toolkits enable users to build information architecture (IA) that can, firstly, reflect their cognitive characteristics and, secondly, elicit user needs with respect to the information architecture design of children's websites. In a case study, the toolkits were used to evaluate the usability of the Yahoo!® Kids (Korea) directory. The results show that the information architecture of children differs from that of adults in depth, breadth, and clarity of contents and logicality. Finally, suggestions are made to improve the usability of children's websites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-191
Number of pages19
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Information architecture
  • Participatory design


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