Searching for toys

SearchScreen1

The class today was devoted to how to search for a toy and add it to their wish list. Leading the students from the concept to the layout was a journey though how much magic people attribute to the Internet.

The students had the perception that they could type in “Lego Toy”, and it would add the exact lego toy they wanted to their wish list. I lead them step-by-step though what actually happens when they search for something on Google:

  • You type in your search query. You press SEARCH.
  • Google returns a list of websites.
  • Based on a 2 line description in the list of websites, you choose one by clicking on it.
  • You see that website, and determine if its what you are looking for. If so, you take some action.
  • If not, you return back to your Google results and try something else.

Each of these actions had to be programmed into our app. We started by laying out the initial search screen. It would have a box at the top, and a SEARCH button. Several of the students mentioned that it should be a “safe” search, i.e. not return websites that were inappropriate for kids. (Their parents trained them well).

The next screen would show the websites that were found, and by pressing on one of the returned items, it would the subsequent screen would be the actual website. I explained to the students that pictures should not be included with the search results, since the pictures might not be kid-appropriate.

The students said that if they found the toy they were looking for, there should be a big button on the screen that says “ADD TO LIST”; otherwise, they should be able to go back to the list.

One student asked “What if they don’t know how to read?” In working with kids (in building an app), I learned there’s no such thing as a stupid relevant question (there were many irrelevant questions). From that question, we talked about the target market – the age group the app designed is for. What grade level should the app expect kids to have? What words do the kids not know yet? For example, most students did not know the meaning of the word “via”. If you play with the app, you’ll see that the sentences assume a 5th or 6th grader.

When selecting the toy to ADD TO LIST, they wanted to include a picture of that toy in their wish list. If there’s only one picture on the website, the ADD TO LIST button is easy. What happens if the website has several pictures of the toy – how do you pick which picture to use?

One solution was to have another button “SELECT PICTURE” and then press the picture on the page that they wanted to use. That meant selecting a gift required 3 actions: press ADD TO LIST, press SELECT PICTURE, then touch the picture they wanted to use. Working with an app should be easier than that, so we decided a kid would press on a picture for a few seconds to accomplish all three actions at once.

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