A toddlers choice of app icon

This past weekend we stayed with one my father’s cousins outside of Washington DC. There I got to spend a lot of time with my  two-year old cousin, and of course I let him play with my iPhone. Mostly for peace and quite, but also for the chance to observe him using my iPhone over a longer period of time.

I was very intrigued when I saw that the he did not tap app icons at random, but he never tapped the right icon that would take him to the apps he liked.

He is very mush into cars, so I went  to pappasappar.se and searched for “car” and found this app: Build a Car with Kate and Harry. You build a car with a preset of parts and then watch it drive for a little while. He enjoyed building the car, a lot, but the driving part became a little too long. So what did he do then? Pressed the home button!

Then he started asking for busses, so I did a search in the App Store and came up with this app: Wheels on the Bus with Mango and Papaya. To me the app looked kind of crappy, but after I helped him select the right choice in the menu he loved it. Each session with this “bus app” lasted a lot longer than with the “car app”. I never observed at what point he decided this app was boring and pressed the home button.

After leaving the apps I think he tried to come back to the app he wanted. However he would always end up demanding “more bus” or “more car” from me. When I looked at iPhone I usually found Mailchimp, DCRider, Harvest or bitly opened.

Yes there is app chaos on my phone now. App icons talking about circled in yellow!

One or two times I was with him when he pressed the home button and I said “press the bus”. His finger lingered above DCRider, but then he just looked at me for help.

Each time I tapped the “bus app”-icon or “car app”-icon for him I did it so he could see where I tapped. Even so I never observed him tapping these icons himself, and as told he often came running back to demanding “more bus” or “more car”.

Clearly he does not like messy icons!

In addition here are some more observations about the icons he did gravitate towards:

  • The Harvest-icon really stands out from the rest of the icons on that screen.
  • The DCRider-icon clearly has a moving vehicle on it, even tough it is a train not a bus.
  • The “bus app” actually featured a monkey as one of its main characters and the Mailchimp-icon is clear, crisp and pretty cute.
  • The bitly app does not really have any connection to the “bus app” or the “car app”, but I did observe him when he found it. There was a big smile as he exclaimed “FISH” and then a very disappointed boy when the app opened.

Having a crisp and clear icons is always important, but seems even more so when your user is not capable of understanding why you do not!

2 thoughts on “A toddlers choice of app icon”

  1. Haha! Not very surprising that the two-year old didn’t like bit.ly – I never noticed they have a fish icon though! Makes one think. More two-year olds in the app testing department might be a good idea! 🙂

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