Netflix Designs New User Interface With Kids In Mind

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If you head over to your Netflix homepage, you might see a new feature snuck in there. The rental giant has added a “Just For Kids” tab to some of its patrons’ websites. Since I don’t currently subscribe to Netflix, I’ll let GigaOm describe the new program.

“The first visible difference between the new kids section and your average genre page on is a horizontal scroll bar that displays various kids characters from Hello Kitty to Shaun the Sheep.

A click on one of those characters opens a new page that offers access to TV show episodes and movies starring that character. Each episode is previewed with a screenshot, and there is barely any text at all. Everything is optimized for instant playback of the episodes displayed.”

So the system seems to be built for navigation by those can’t read yet. At first, I thought, “My Heavens, if you can’t read, what are you doing on Netflix?” But let’s be honest, children are on our laptops, smartphones and tablets all the time! My daughter can take pictures with an iPhone. My boss’s two-year-old can play games on her mother’s Android. And my niece can call her dad on Skype without any help at all.

Making a portal for children that is easy to navigate and utilize is a smart move for Netflix. It makes the program something that our kids can get involved with, instead of just saying, “Mom… can you pleeeeeease put Alvin & The Chipmunks into the queue? Please?” And in the end, it might be more useful for parents. Instead of monkeying around on the normal Netflix pages that might show options unsuitable for young kids, this page will have filtered content that’s easy for children to see. They can hop on and watch an episode of a show they like while you guys sit in the dentist’s waiting room or run errands on a weekend afternoon. It also might save a half hour struggle with children, like mine, who need to do everything by themselves. My daughter would be thrilled to figure it all out on her own!

I realize that parents need to be mindful of their children’s screen time. We need to set limitations on what they’re watching and how long they’re watching it. We don’t protect our children through a difficult Netflix homepage. We do it by setting rules. Why shouldn’t the system be easy to use, for those times when parents permit their kids to watch a little Dragon Tales.

(Photo: GigaOm)