Messenger Kids

Scaling a messaging and video calling app that’s fun for kids and easy for parents to manage.
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It’s no secret that kids today are growing up in a much different world, one where technology has changed the way we communicate. Messenger for Kids is on a mission to help the next generation understand what it means to have healthy online, social interactions and digital etiquette in a world of digital communication. Messenger Kids also hopes to empower children with creative communication tools so that they can build stronger relationships with their friends and family.

“...but not every family has the same structure, so we needed to find a delicate solution.”

When we started with the Messenger Kids team, the app was newly released and experiencing enormous growth. We were asked to augment the team’s product design efforts in order to help scale the product in-step with its user growth. As part of the team, we created countless prototypes for user research, shipped a myriad of A/B tests, and implemented dozens of new features—two of which we'll dive into here.

One of the first problems we tackled during the project was to create a way for parents to manage their child’s account together. We knew parents wanted this feature, but not every family has the same structure, so we needed to find a delicate solution. We completed a number of user-research sessions and tested a variety of design directions to understand what rules should be in place for this experience overall.

We had to figure out how to respect different family situations within our backend limitations, if parents should have the same admin rights, and how new and existing users would find new features.

Our focus then shifted to a broad view of a parent’s experience in Messenger Kids. The app already had a “Parent Portal” where parents could manage their child’s account and settings, but the original version wasn’t able to accommodate the new features we were building weekly. We took what we learned from research and testing, placed some big bets, and overhauled the entire dashboard.

The result of this work was a dashboard that was ready to grow with the product. Running through many different explorations, we decided that it would be best to create three distinct buckets of information. We settled on a structure that gave parents an easy-to-understand information hierarchy, even as the product began to scale.

We believe that having a clear structure will empower the parents to take action on the things that matter most to them. After launching the new parent portal, we are pleased to see a rise in parent activity, retention, and actions taken.

Working with Messenger Kids has been an exciting opportunity to improve an ever-changing digital landscape and to help technology grow with kids. Ensuring we could build a safe communication app, while still providing an experience that both kids and parents enjoy, has been a challenging but exciting experience that we are grateful to have.

It has been a pleasure working with Underbelly for 9+ months. The quality of product design work was excellent, and Underbelly integrated directly with our team, working with product and engineering to understand goals and requirements. Underbelly has felt like an extended part of our design team.
Chelsea Klukas
Product Design Manager


Scott Jones
Product Designer
Maja Barisic
Project Manager

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