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Please note: adventure+ is a commercial playground equipment supplier and does not provide equipment for domestic applications.

How to Avoid Poor Play Design

How to recognise it and why it’s so important to avoid

A poorly designed playground can be the result of a combination of factors, however, ultimately it will fail to serve its purpose. This means children and communities will not be able to engage in the exiciting benefits of play if their local or school playground has been poorly designed.

The Key Signs of Poor Design


One of the most telling signs that a playground has failed through its design is if children become bored, disinterested, or disengaged while playing on it. The whole purpose of a playground is to encourage and foster children to play. Doing so helps strengthen and stimulate their mind and body. A boring playground will simply not stimulate a child’s development.

The two indicators of whether or not a playground is successfully engaging is if children stay for a long time while playing and if they want to return.

Failure to Meet Compliance Standards

One of the most important aspects of playground design is ensuring that it will meet all compliance standards. Standards for playground equipment are designed to keep children safe while playing and it’s critical to ensure this in any playground design. This is why it is so important for designers to have a sound understanding of the guidelines and standards that apply. This way that can be considered every step of the way ensuring poor play design is avoided.

Smart playground designers will ensure that playground compliance standards don’t reduce the opportunities for risk taking, fun and development.

Poor Traffic and Layout Planning

Yet another key feature of a poorly designed playground is one that demonstrates no or little traffic flow management. It’s one thing for your playground to look good on paper but it needs to be user friendly too. Overcrowding can also lead to negative experiences like injury and overstimulation on playgrounds too. If your playground overcrowds, children will not be able to use or enjoy it as much. This is especially important in school-based playgrounds where children will be using them in large groups all at once.

Poor Aesthetics

An unattractive playground is the result of a design that has not been carefully considered in order to be cohesive, effective, and well rounded. The look of a playground excites and encourages children to play. While the value of a playground does not rest entirely in its aesthetics, it is a great way to add further value.

A great technique to ensure effective aesthetic design in your playground is to look at it through the eyes of children. Make sure your designs look enticing, adventurous, and exciting to a child. This will improve the experience children have with your playground.

Poor Supervision

Both public and private playgrounds need to allow for supervision. A playground that has not factored in supervision will provide a poor outcome. Furniture and layout need to be designed so that adults can supervise children comfortably and at a safe distance. Providing well-designed supervision areas means that children have space to freely enjoy their playground and challenge themselves while still having safe supervision close by.

How To Spot Poor Play Design In Its Early Stages

When working with playground suppliers it is important to familiarise yourself with what sets good play design apart from poor design. Many hours of thought should go into good play design in order for it to be successful.

A good designer will be able to take you through the rationale behind their design. If they don’t have a rationale behind their concept, it is unlikely to be as considered a design as it needs to be.

A good designer will be able to walk you through their choices. Finding and working with a good designer will result in a good play space. This is why you should always take the time to find a reputable designer and make sure you’re always asking lots of questions.

How To Avoid Poor Play Design

Always look for a playground supplier who demonstrates that they are taking play seriously. Play should be treated like a science, something which needs a carefully considered approach and involves multiple elements coming together.

Get Your Priorities in Order

Making decisions based solely on cost can result in a negative outcome. You want to focus on being able to get the most play value out of your budget. Spending more does not necessarily ensure a higher value outcome.

What we need to be focusing on is what will and won’t provide play value to your user group. Equipment that will encourage developmental benefits for children can still be made very affordable as true play value and dollar value are not one and the same.

While aesthetic value is part of what makes a good playground, it alone will not ensure the overall success of a design. If a designer has only paid attention to the playground apperance, they may have neglected the other elements that make a playground a valuable part of children’s growth and development.

Children need equipment that is primarily suited to their age and ability while still encouraging them to take on challenges; rather than something that looks impressive but is not actually suitable.

The equipment also needs to consider important logistics like traffic flow, site specifications, and other nuances of a unique design brief. A playground is designed to be used not looked at, so it needs to be safe, fun, engaging, and usable for children before it is made aesthetically pleasing.

Good play design comes from the balancing of many important elements to result in a considered and successful design. Poor play design means children won’t have access to the enriching play that is so important in their early life.

When it comes to avoiding play design it is important to work with designers and manufacturers who demonstrate the right attitude towards creating valuable play and playground designs.

Looking for a team of great play designers? Get in touch with the team at adventure+ to get started today!

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