Usability Testing: Does your website pass the toddler test?

Have you ever noticed a child navigating her way on an iPad or iPhone?

I have observed by own children open up a device, find their way to a game, and totally interact with the device even though they haven’t learned to read.  I’ve seen them get onto YouTube, find a video clip, watch it and laugh.  To me, this is the ultimate test in usability if a person who has not fully developed their cognitive skills or has not yet learned to read is able to successfully navigate a website, mobile device, or app.

This would be my “toddler test” for client websites.

At first glance, is it visually intuitive what a person is supposed to do on your site? Can a child figure it out without having to read? Can a person who is not fluent in your language find their way through your website?  Does your website include universal iconography to point them in the right direction?

Take a fresh look at your website. Find a young person and ask what button or link they should click to perform a certain task. Find somebody who is not fluent in your language and challenge them with the same task.

If a pre-K child can navigate your website without a lot of help then you have successfully passed the Usability Toddler Test. If not, you might want to ask yourself how you can make it more visual, require less reading, and make it more intuitively obvious what a person is supposed to do when they are on your site.

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