Information Commissioner's Office

Responsible design for children’s services

Supporting design and technology teams to protect children’s privacy

The big motive team conducting a workshop around children's rights and privacy

The Problem

The ICO is the UK’s independent authority that upholds information rights and data privacy for individuals. In 2020, the ICO published ‘The Children’s code’ to regulate the development of apps and online services for young people.

Big Motive was engaged to develop design guidance for the Children’s code. Our challenge was to support technology teams to better adhere to the code and design services with children’s privacy in mind.

Image of the Big Motive team workshopping a user journey

Our Approach

After collaborating with designers, data experts and technology advisors, we realised that every team creates distinct experiences for children in different genres and in different ways. How could we create a standard that would be practical or useful for all?

Our response was to create a ‘design guidance service’. We facilitated workshops to ideate what might be helpful for digital teams. Our solution was a comprehensive toolkit, comprising do’s and don’ts, checklists and tools that any digital team can use in their design process.

The design guidance helps teams empathise with young users and better understand children’s rights. It includes practical tools including ‘Age-appropriate mindsets’ and ‘Data privacy moments maps’. To promote accessibility and contextual relevance, these tools have been published on Miro—the virtual whiteboard—along with videos and instructional content, supporting better adherence to the Children’s code.


The Children’s code and its design guidance is now live 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 to support better professional practice that can work in the public’s interest.

A number of US Democratic Senators have proposed a Congressional act to follow the ICO’s lead – making the Children’s code and its design guidance a benchmark for best practice.

Other Work