Night Zookeeper

What can others learn from the successes and failures of how you crafted your product experience for children?: 
Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch is a tablet application from Night Zookeeper that challenges children to complete daily drawing missions such as; drawing the ocean without the colour blue, or turning a picture of a boring old shoe into a magical animal!  Children must first roar to unlock the app, before using all of their creativity to complete the missions. Teleporting Torch is unique, amongst creative drawing applications because it enables the parents play along using a free online dashboard where they can see their child's artwork and send them new drawing and writing challenges.
Night Zookeeper started life as a series of school projects and we still have really strong connections with schools across the world. Therefore we were able to work with children from a variety of backgrounds to create Teleporting Torch.  It was their bredth of feedback that ensured we were making Teleporting Torch with as many children as possible in mind.
In giving children so much attention, we actually neglected the parent experience a little. The dashboard we created, although beautiful, is actually quite complex and some parents have had a hard time working out how to send their own bespoke missions. I would say the lesson here is that parents need design that is, if anything, even more straightforward than children! 
Please describe any research, data, and other information about the needs of your young users that was used in the design of your product and how it significantly affected the thought process and final outcome.: 

Night Zookeeper was built very much hand-in-hand with a series of schools across the world. Therefore we were able to work with children to refine both design concepts, story content and the UI.  

Once we had actually made a prototype the testing really started. It was possible and collate feedback from the sessions and then iterate the application as we built towards release.

We also had a wealth of data from our first application, Night Zookeeper Drawing Torch which we used to inform our concepts for Teleporting Torch. When we saw that some children were spending 45 mins at a time on the Drawing Torch application, we knew we were on to something.


In what ways did the specific needs of and constraints inherent to children affect the design of the product?: 

The only specific need was building something children would love.

Children love tablets so in deciding on a platform for Teleporting Torch, tablets was a very straight forward requirement. However with a huge number of iPad and Android apps available, Teleporting Torch was entering a very competitive environment where children are bombarded with choice.

Most of the entertainment apps for children in the Play and App Store specialise in what I would call 'the fruit machine effect' (Addictive, mindless, simple wins for kids.) So our app was up against it! However we knew that children loved drawing and having more attention from their parents, so it was really up to us to create a product that could bring these aspects forward and help us compete.

With regards to constraints; the team behind Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch were relatively new to UX design for children but one of the founders of the company is a former primary school teacher and he was on hand to point out potential problems before we even got to product testing. Further, our CTO literally filled his own iPad with drawing applications and we studied what worked and what didn't for both kids and adults to inform the build. 


Please share any quantitative, qualitative, and/or anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of your designs for children and/or of the impact your product has on its users.: 
Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch was recognised as one of the 50 best apps of 2013 by The Observer and The Guardian in the United Kingdom and continues to recieve rave reviews from teachers, parents and children.
Andrea Butler, Elementary Teacher, USA
"Thank you!!! They really enjoyed it and are currently working on their own animal creations and stories. I got several emails from parents saying they came home yesterday talking about it!"
Camila Amanda, Geeks with Juniors
"Night Zookeeper Teleporting Torch is a fantastic app. Having tried it for some time, I can’t imagine what kid would not want to draw every day with this app. The daily mission mechanism is a pretty nifty idea if you ask me."
"I loved that the Night Zookeeper described lots of animals. It gave me ideas, like The Time Travelling elephant, I remembered that later and used it in my own writing at home"