Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) had lots of information for kids on their website, but it wasn’t explorable or organized well. To engage kids in the library mission, we created a kids mini-site that can be a starting place for kids from ages 1 to 12. MPL also has a mascot, Browser the Library Lion, who was being reintroduced and needed to be brought to life. The project needed to cover explorability, information hierarchy and fun, age-aware design.
We wanted to find a way to help kids want to explore more, so we created a “world” where kids could move from section to section, each containing games, events, book lists, etc. One of the children’s librarians suggested that the city itself could be the world, and we created as many neighborhoods and landmarks as we could fit, giving kids an opportunity to see themselves in the map. It also helped kids want to explore more, thus finding new features of the library.
We created a series of proofs-of-concept that tried different ways to explore the world. Each proof of concept tried different ways to engage kids and still have a strong information hierarchy. We found a from-above map-based world was a great way to communicate explorability.
We discovered very quickly that a child of 3 is of course exceedingly different from one of 11. We decided to divide the kids into three different ages (0-5, 6-9 and 10-12), and set up those groups as separate in the events calendar and booklist feeds, so a kid would see events and books more suited to their age. With the difference of audiences, we could lean into more age-appropriate design, more simple shapes and primary colors for the younger kids, and older would progressively get more detail and color into their worlds.