Department of the Interior

Every Kid in a Park


Designing for every user

Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to outdoor spaces. The Department of the Interior created the Every Kid in a Park program to make it easier for fourth graders to discover public lands — but they needed a way for the program to reach fourth graders.

The challenge was designing a website that fourth graders would be able to use. How do you design a federal website for an audience that doesn’t know the word federal?


Building a federal website for 10-year-olds

Before we got involved, the Department of the Interior had already held events to talk to fourth graders and test out ideas for the website, so they were on the right path toward understanding real users and prioritizing their needs.

We took that research and turned it into concrete design decisions. Our content designer wrote everything at a fourth grade reading level, including the legal section, privacy policy, and even the section for parents and guardians (we found kids were especially interested in the “grown-ups” section). Our visual designers used bright colors and pictures with families playing in parks (adults liked night landscapes, but kids found them scary).

These design decisions helped make the program a huge success. Since it launched in September 2015, more than a million visitors to the site have downloaded nearly two million passes. This site showed what you can accomplish when you relentlessly focus on the needs of users — even when those users are still learning how to tie their shoes.

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