ICO – Children’s Code Design Guidance
STUDIO / DESIGNER
Rebecca Walsh (Design lead) Stephen Shaw (Service design and user research) Rachel Orr (Content design)
Design Challenge and Design Ideas
“With the proliferation of apps, games and digital services targeted at children, tech companies can create apps for young users in an unregulated environment. In extreme cases, some organisations use a range of tactics to engage children and monetise their data with no restraint and little respect for their vulnerable status.
The ICO is the UK’s independent authority that upholds information rights and data privacy for individuals. In 2020, the ICO published a new policy to regulate the development of apps for young people. The Children’s code is a data protection code of practice for online services, apps, games and websites aimed at young users.
Big Motive won a project to develop a design system for the Children’s code. Our challenge was to support technology teams to better adhere to the code and ultimately, to enable the creation of more responsible services for young people.”
How the brief was fulfilled
“We collaborated with policy makers, data experts and technology advisors to reframe the new policy as a service. Rather than demonising bad behavior, we asked: How might we support tech companies to create more responsive services for young people?
We singled out tech companies as the subjects of a comprehensive research study, engaging with R&D teams working in innovation for young audiences. We met designers from companies like Lego, Microsoft, BBC, EA and Crayola to better understand their experience and listen to their challenges.
Having converged on a set of insights, we facilitated co-design workshops to define outcomes. We then reverse engineered user journeys which we illustrated as storyboards before realising the complexity of our undertaking.
Every team creates distinct experiences, in different genres and for different age groups. How could we possibly create a standard that would be practical or useful without limiting creativity.
Our response was to create a comprehensive ‘design guidance service’. We facilitated a new round of workshops to ideate what might be helpful for digital teams. Our solution is a suite of tools and interventions that any digital team can use in their innovation process. We created a set of mindsets to help teams empathise with young users and better understand the vulnerabilities and rights of children. We designed discrete workshops comprising tools, exercises and ‘Miro’ templates with videos and instructional content to inspire better adherence to the Children’s code. Finally, we created a comprehensive toolkit of tips, checklists and tools – building on behavioral science to influence better design practice and inspire engagement from young users and their parents.
The Children’s code and its [design guidance is now live](https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/childrens-code-hub/) and teams across the UK are benefiting from this innovative new service. By understanding the needs of a most diverse group of users, the ‘design guidance service’ marks a new way of imagining policy that supports better professional practice to work in the public’s interest.
A number of [US Democratic Senators have proposed a Congressional act](https://www.theverge.com/2021/8/10/22618221/gaming-video-games-loot-box-blizzard-trahan-markey-castor) to follow the ICO’s lead – making the Children’s code and its design guidance a benchmark for best practice.”
‘The concept addresses a distinctly modern and new challenge.”"