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Chaz Blogs It's all about the eXperience!

I have found two new inspirations for excellent user experience in a most unlikely place; my kid's toy box.  Well so to speak anyway.

The first inspiration is innovative from both a marketing perspective as well as a User Interface perspective.  If you have a child from 5 to 15 you probably know about Webkinz.  A very short explanation for those that don't.  A toy manufacturer named Ganz sells little stuffed animals with a tag on the toe.  The tag has a special code that allows you to care for and interact with one (or more) virtual version of your stuffed animal.  Kids in our area are nuts for the Webkinz animals and most own more than 2 or 3 and you can add as many as you purchase to your account.

Hats off to Ganz for figuring out how to drive people to a game site and pay for it without realizing they bought a subscription as well as a stuffed animal.  See most people will spend money on a physical object like a stuffed animal.  But they won't necessarily pay for a game site subscription quite as readily.  So Ganz has very cunningly masked the fact that what you are really doing is buying a one year subscription to a game site with the lure of a stuffed animal.  Don't get me wrong, the stuffed animals are great on their own, but what a genius move the Ganz marketing department! 

 So if the Webkinz marketing concept is brilliant, the Webkinz web site ( is absolutely brilliant.   Man they got it right!  The rich web UI is amazing.  It is completely appropriate for the target audience.  It is evident from the enthusiasm of my kids that the User Experience couldn't be better!  It is fun to look at, easy to navigate and cleverly designed.  Especially from a kid's point of view.

The second inspiration is from an old friend, Nintendo.  We already have a PS2 so I was more than skeptical about buying a Wii.  Well I am glad we did.  My kids were up off the coach from the minute I had it set up.  I actually sat back and smiled as I watched the kids jumping around and moving their body to play the games.  Wow what a cool idea!  A really interactive gaming system that just might raise your heart rate a little bit.  Thank you Nintendo.  Oh and I have played a number of games and I have to say the experience from a critical adult's perspective is great.  The wireless controls with audio right in them is a great touch.  But even without that, the novel way Nintendo has allowed us to interact with the system though the motion sensitive wireless devices is revolutionary.  I'm sure others have put bits in pieces of the technologies found in the Wii to use.  But Nintendo has captured lightening in a bottle in terms of user experience.  The Wii will change what we expect from video gaming consoles.

I guess I would be remiss if I did not make mention of all the innovations lately around cell phones.  From GPS to streaming video to full key pads, cell phones have also made great strides in User Experience. 

Now if we could just think along the lines of these great innovators, I'd love to see somebody come up with a fresh idea for an OS.  We have been living with the same concepts for what about 20 years now?  Isn't it time for somebody to break the mold.  Don't get caught up in the Mac/Linux/Microsoft non-sense.  Some of the greatest ideas come from the most unlikely places.  Let's hope we find a more advanced, more civilized, more User friendly OS in one of those places.


Posted on Saturday, July 28, 2007 5:32 PM User Experience | Back to top

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