Sesame Street Smarts

Our producer, Albert, visited the Sesame Workshop in NYC today to get advice about design.

He asked them about such things as their own experiences with whether or not kids ages 4-6 prefer:

  • A world populated by adult or children characters
  • Human, animal, robot characters
  • Adult or child / male or female voices
  • Cartoony illustrations or real pictures

What did the folks at Sesame Workshop say?

CHARACTER DESIGN:  There may be a slight preferences for child characters over adults, but all distinctions are really trivial so long as characters feel friendly and funny.  The real test of character design, of course, is to put your characters in front of kids and ask them.

VOICE:   Voice-overs are similar: so long as the speaking is clear, it doesn’t matter too much what your actor sounds like.  Indeed, Sesame Workshop tests with scratch audio all the time and kids don’t complain when Elmo doesn’t sound “like Elmo.”

STORY:  Remind a child often where a story is going and why.  DON’T over-complicated.  Kids don’t find puns or irony funny; however, physical humor is good; things kids find funny also include unusual juxtapositions (e.g. small things with deep voices), as well as toes, baths, bubbles, and toilets (though avoid that last one).

USER INTERFACE:  Have a “back” and “home” button on-screen at the top always.  Don’t make important buttons hide.  Avoid putting anything interactive along the bottom because kids rest their wrists downs there.

INTERACTIONS:  Kids have no trouble with tapping, drawing, swiping, and dragging, but DO HAVE TROUBLE with pinching, tilting, multi-touch, flicking, flinging, double-tapping.