Kalyani Katariya
UI/UX Designer and Researcher

Designing with
KidsTeam at UW Seattle

Unlimited fun and learning!

I worked with 6 children ages 7-11 to evaluate the UX design of various technologies, games, web apps and mobile apps over the period of one year. I learned the participatory design method, performed qualitative data analysis for this research.

The goal was to learn a participatory design with the UW Kids team.

Design Question
How might children develop and embrace the design thinking mindset?

Research methods and qualitative data analysis. 

Conducted two participatory design sessions with KidsTeam for EYE(Educating Young Eyes) Center for their mobile solutions - 'RedFlag' app and 'QuickCheck app'.Publication-' A Model of Design Behaviors Influencing Children’s Co-Design Skill Development'. I am part of the research group that has submitted the paper for peer review at the CHI 2020 conference. I helped with the qualitative data analysis for the submitted research.

​My Role: UI/Ux Researcher

Timeline: Apr 2018-May2019

Publication Link: Coming soon!

Client: Research group UW Seattle

About KidsTeam and Participatory Design

Designing with KidsTeam at UW Seattle

In Summer 2018, I joined the UW KidsTeam research group at the University of Washington. The research group includes kids ages 7 to 11, professional software designers and Ux researchers. Their work is to suggest and evaluate software design, share their experiences with various technologies, games, web applications, mobile applications using the participatory design method. Dr. Jason Yip at the University of Washington, Seattle runs KidsTeam for the last three years. The KidsTeam meet happens every Tuesday and Thursday.

From my experience with the KidsTeam, kids are full of creative design ideas which would sometimes escape as an adult and they are not afraid of sharing their feedback. 


Participatory Design

In participatory design, end-users of the system are involved in the ideation and design process in order to construct the ideal and more relevant design. It helps to identify the experience that matters the most to the user. The participatory design method in HCDE (Human-Centered Design Engineering) suggests that the intended users of the system should be involved as a design partner at the various stages of the design for the developers to get to the relevant design idea and critical feedback.

The four roles that children may have in the design of new technologies

The four roles that children may have in the design of new technologies


There are various methods such as ‘interview’, ‘sticky notes’, ‘design on a big sheet’, ‘the bag of stuff’ that the UW KidsTeam uses for design session depending on the goal of the research study, the kind of research questions and at what stage the software development or design process is.

Various methods that I used for participatory design with UW Kids team

Various methods that I used for participatory design with UW Kids team


             I worked on four different projects with the KidsTeam as described below.

Participatory Design with KidsTeam at UW Seattle

UW KidsTeam Design Session for Red Flags details are shared below. You can view QuickCheck design session details here.

Participatory Design with KidsTeam at UW Seattle

Research questions explored

1. How can the design help administrators conduct the tests better?

2. How can we make the design more interactive?

3. Kids' experience - would they be more engaged if they interact more with the application instead of just being given instructions? 

Using a big paper sheet to share likes, dislikes, design ideas.

Likes, dislikes, and design ideas captured from the session

1. Liked the tests where they can use their whole body, e.g. Tummy crawl.

2. They liked that it was quick, straightforward and not overwhelming.

3. Liked the timer used in the Red flag app.

4. They liked the Visual Discrimination test because it was like a puzzle.

What kids would like to see

1. They would like to get instant results back for the test that they have taken, instead of waiting until the end to find out if they passed the test or not. They were afraid of getting a red flag.

2. They felt that the tests where the pencil is moved closer to their face are scary. Also, one kid mentioned that it reminds them of the school so if we could use something else instead of pencil, maybe straw with some small picture on it.

3. They would like to keep track of the activities that are there and how many are remaining, like a progress bar indicating the activity progress.

4. They wanted to have sounds in the app to indicate which button was selected by the test administrator.   

Below are photos taken during the design session of kids' work.

"Add sounds to indicate when a result is displayed but it should not convey any positive or negative reaction for the answers. A sound or a message to indicate that the test is completed."
- UW KidsTeam member

Solutions for the likes, dislikes, and design ideas

1. They would like to see some graphs and charts that give information about how the “average kid’s” results look like.

2. Allow multiple students to take the test at the same time. During the Red Flag design session, we had to go back and forth between the two students and only one student’s results get recorded as a result.

3. Kids would like to see some loading screens.

4. The buttons could be rounded and colorful.

5. To some kids Red flag name and the logo make sense. But one kid shared that the Red Flag app name and logo were scary. The kid suggested we can use a god’s eye symbol. 

6. For the Discrimination test, use the screen vertically instead of the current horizontal layout.

7. Do not abbreviate things, instead just use the full word, e.g. at some places the app uses ‘in’ instead of inches. They thought that it was ‘in’ (like English preposition).



1. This project taught me how academic research in the design filed works. I am happy that I was part of the research group and got the opportunity to work on the academic research paper.

2. Kids have amazing energy and creativity. There inputs related to the app designed surprized me.

3. It was challenging to manage the commitment with KidsTeam with my academic coursework and professional work but the sessions I attended with kids helped me to endure through it successfully.