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Last week deal site Groupon launched a Dream Weddings channel. Today it looks like they have added another channel — a “kid-friendly club”. The new Groupon Kidz Club features deals that are either geared towards kids or are kid-friendly. Each city appears to have a couple of local deals including test prep and photography services along with a large number of national deals. For example, the most popular company on the deal sites, Vistaprint makes an appearance on the kid-friendly deals list.
Frankly I can’t figure out by the tone of the content (outside of the deals) if this could be a late April Fools joke. Groupon has created several personalities within the Kidz Club including: Glasses, Blade, FopTop, Roll, E-Male, Pyles and Swarmy.
The Kids Club features games like “help roll get his croissant back” and a word scramble. These games aren’t online, I assume you need to print out the page and give it to your kids. There is also content including, “HELP elderly folks cross the first part of the street and then encourage them to get across the rest of the way on their own!” There is also an official Kidz Club theme song.
I don’t get all of the (probably very expensive) content Groupon creates — from this sillyness to the “extra” content they post at the bottom of their deal pages. Just post the deals and move on to posting more deals.
Designing for an age-appropriate audience is key while designing children interactive products for 2 main reasons:
- Children go through many different stages in their cognitive development where they acquire new skill sets in areas such as literacy, mathematics, and their thought processes at different ages
- Children’s fine motor skills also develop over time
These factors should be given prominence before, during, and after the design of children interactive products for different age groups.
Designing interactive products for children shouldn’t be any different from any user-centred design process, but the methods for carrying out user research, the implementation of different design guidelines and evaluating the products need to cater for the young or little audience group. So how exactly are these methods different?
User research: understanding your audience
Interactive products for children are usually fun and educational, but how do we know exactly what children need? Common ways of gathering user requirements (e.g. interviews, conducting diary studies, surveys, and observational studies) don’t necessarily apply to children given their limited language skills and attention span. Also, children might not necessarily know what they need. In this case, the following methods can be helpful:
Just a few months after Sesame Street launched their Elmo Monster Maker iPhone app, Sesame Street has launched a new eBookstore. SS notes that eBook titles cover 19 subject areas including letters, numbers, counting, colors, and cultural appreciation. You can navigate through the books using page turning navigation or set the book to automatically move forward. Some of the books include audio and animation. Some of the books are available in Spanish.
The titles include: Big Block Party, Eat Your Colors, How to Get Dressed (without wearing a blue shirt), Get Your Grouchies Out and Feel Good and My First Instrument. We got an exclusive on future titles which include: Elmo Teaches You How to Linkbait, Big Bird Gets a Digg Frontpage, Oscar Teaches You How to Quit Facebook and Ernie Creates a Human-Powered Search Engine.
The full Sesame Street eBooks store is available for $24.99 and they will always offer five free eBooks in a rotation.
I would totally buy into this if they: a. removed Elmo and b. added Grimace. I can’t wait to see what the Sesame Street team comes up with for the iPad and other tablet devices.
Many blogs and news outlets, including ReadWriteWeb, have covered the “augmented reality” market. A new augmented reality application launched last week that targets kids. New York-based DoCrew describes their service as, “ is an online cartoon and gaming site that uses your computer’s webcam to place children inside of a virtual world. Kids interact directly with the games and activities using the motion of their whole bodies.” The site is targeted towards kids from ages 4-8.
DoCrew notes that they help kids be active by allowing them to fully engage with the games rather than sitting on a couch playing Xbox or with a portable gaming console. Interestingly the entire site is in Flash, not just the actual games — probably a mistake for SEO purposes. All that’s needed to use DoCrew is a webcam. There is some simple setup – basically the kid needs to be at the right distance from the webcam to make sure that the motions and movements are accurately represented in the game.
It sure is amazing what kids have to play with today – a far cry from my Fisher-Price cash register and shopping cart. Visit the DoCrew website to checkout their demo videos.
I could see a great partnership between DoCrew and another NY-based kids software provider, Kidos (our coverage).
DoCrew is based in Brooklyn. The service is currently free but it does appear that they plan to charge a monthly fee in the future.
Sesame Street has launched a new iPhone application aimed at kids called Elmo’s Monster Maker. I’ve embedded a video demo of the iPhone app below. The app costs $4 and can be downloaded from the iPhone app store. It’s pretty amazing that little kids are using the iPhone for games but after watching my sister’s 5-year old niece playing a variety of games on the iPhone, I see how well it works as a game console.
The Elmo Monster Maker app is pretty simple. You can customize the monster’s face including the nose, hat, eyes and mouth. After you are satisfied with your monster, Elmo will dance with it. It’d be neat if you could somehow post your monster to a gallery on Sesame Street’s website.
What I think this app (and other similar apps) shows is how popular the iPad will be with children and young kids. If they like playing on a tiny screen, their excitement will only ride with a screen that’s 3x bigger. I’ve previously shared my thoughts about why I want an iPad. I think the iPad device will be a hit for families once it drops to $349 for the WiFi version. I think the price drop will come just before the holiday season. Will the iPad be a bigger gaming hit than the Nintendo DS or Playstation PSP? Only time will tell but if the price drops, look for at least strong competition.
Continue reading “Elmo Shows Us Why The iPad Will Be a Hit With Kids” »
Earlier this month online baby manager TotSpot announced a sponsorship deal with Sesame Street. TotSpot users can now add the characters to their profile pages. You can also check out the profile pages for Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby and Elmo. Financial terms of the sponsorship were not disclosed although we hear that the deal involved large quantities of cookies.
It’s a smart move for TotSpot as it could help with distribution and visibility. If you are new to TotSpot, check out our interview TotSpot founder Adam Katz.
Apparently Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby were the only muppets initially involved in the deal. Like many stories I’ve heard before, “Elmo” rushed in and demanded equal time. Elmo apparently refuses to let any other Sesame Street resident have their time in the sun without his presence as well. I guess this is what happens when you are a diva. I am betting I will receive an email soon from Elmo’s attorneys demanding I add him next to Cookie Monster below.
Here’s a photo of the newly sponsored Cookie Monster — if you check this link, you can see what I mean about Elmo pushing his way into every photo.
We first covered Lil’Grams when they launched their private beta. Founder Gregarious Narain says that the service is “twitter-like for new parents”. They just launched a new design and will be going live with their public launch next month. The service is pretty interesting as you can submit “grams” from nearly anywhere online — from Twitter to email to iPhoto, etc.
I was able to catch-up with Gregarious at SXSW this week and here’s the video from our chat: