As part of the BBC’s Connected Studios programme, MadeByPi were asked to provide a fun and engaging way for children to explore the vast amounts of content on the CBBC site without the need for ‘sign in’ or using a traditional text based search mechanic. As the leading entertainment website destination for children aged between 6 and 12 we had a difficult challenge on our hands – how do we create something that would appeal to all those ages and be accessible to all? It was then that we turned to Hacker T Dog.
Using the mischievous character of Hacker T Dog, we created ‘Predicto Machin-o!’; an online experience themed around an old seaside fortune teller’s tent in which Hacker has taken residence for the summer and would ask the user a series of quirky questions which would in turn give him the information he needed to determine their likes, dislikes and preferences and build a profile of their viewing habits. Hacker would then make his recommendations on programmes, videos, games and articles that the user might be interested in. Working closely with the CBBC team (and also running several user research sessions with 6-12 year olds) the ‘Predicto’ was carefully designed to appeal to children with individual interests, and at different stages of development.
Throughout the designs were presented to a group of lively 6-12 year old children. The sessions were arranged by the BBC’s research team and gave us valuable insight into what the children liked and how they would like to interact with the site. This information was then fed into the design process and informed the build of clickable prototypes. The one thing that we took from these sessions is that children are extremely honest and know what they want.
Regular user research gave us the insight we needed to refine the design and make the final prototype the best experience possible.
After months of designing, prototyping and refining the complex algorithm used to filter out suitable content we had our working prototype. HTML5 animation, voiceover (Hacker’s cheeky comments) music and sound effects were used to create an entertaining experience that engaged the users and brought the prototype to life.
The BBC were not only able to build up detailed viewer profiles and discover what CBBC content worked and what didn’t, ‘Predicto Machin-o’ also encouraged the youthful audience to take an interest in previously unseen areas of the CBBC website. The game was added to the CBBC Labs website where the lessons learnt from it directly affected longer-term conversations around personalisation and recommendations.
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