First, what you are about to read should never be taken as a recommendation to treat your audience like a 3-year-old. The exact opposite is true. In fact, considering the needs of a traveling toddler will help you create more inviting and respectful environments for all visitors.
So, what’s this magical empathy that will convert your experience into a toddler guest-friendly relationship builder? Respect the impatience.
You better have a plan.
The days of winging it are gone. Experience design has grown up. It’s time to focus your energy planning for your audience because they are your precious baby now, not your portfolio.
So, before you start packing contents or implementing the journey, everyone needs to be aligned with what you want your audience to do. You need to start answering these questions for your UX roadmap: What are the goals? Who is this for? What feeling do you want? What do you need to include in this experience? (See also: Is this necessary?) Is there prior information that is important to remember? How will you determine success? How much time should this take? (See also: Are we there yet?)
And, you absolutely have to involve every key stakeholder, including your audience. There’s nothing that will exhaust patience more than re-building the whole experience or completely losing your audience because you forgot to ask if they needed their favorite stuffy.
Use your words.
Ever tried to explain something new to a toddler? It’s rough. Why? You don’t have a shared vocabulary, yet. And, that’s the key. You have to create a shared language with your audience both verbally and visually.
That’s why it’s essential to communicate with plain, approachable language. This rule applies to both the planning of the experience and how you engage your audience.
During the planning and experience-building phase, it’s important for your extended team to establish shared understanding of terminology commonly used during the process. This groundwork can be so vital to keeping a UX process on track that creating a glossary shouldn’t be ignored. Miscommunication is costly, and having less yet more productive dialogues eases tension for everyone.
For your audience, simple is always better. Clearly – often repeatedly – stating the mutually beneficial intent throughout the experience is the only way. In addition to ensuring clarity, be sure to customize your messaging with the appropriate urgency, personality and personalization to ensure you make it to the destination with fewer unnecessary exits along the journey. So, before we go any further, do you need to potty?
The scenic route or the shortcut?
Beautiful or easy. Form or function. Can we do both? What does the audience want? Oh boy, if there is one thing you can’t afford to misjudge, it’s the fleeting attention span of your toddler target.
Here are a few questions to determine what’s required and what isn’t. Is it most important to create a lasting memory? Is this a one-time experience or a repeated journey? How big is your audience? What is their typical level of engagement? Does that interest vary per guest? And, of course, how long do you have until you lose your audience entirely? The responses to these questions will help guide your custom-made experience.
Hit pause. Rewind. Let’s re-focus on that last question. The answer to that question is always the same: not very long. There is study after study that shows why (lack of) speed kills. Regardless of how you collectively decided to answer the rest of the questions, make sure you have at least one alternative route that provides immediate gratification, even if your goal is long term. A quick laugh or surprise can be the difference between best day ever and best day never.