The Franktown Rocks UX
FranktownRocks.com is a music-based Massively Multi-player Online Game, otherwise known as an MMOG or virtual world. Its an online game for kids 8-12 years old in which they create a character, walk around the city of Franktown and interact with other players in real time. This was a game that I designed and developed from the ground up and it ended up being one of the most complex, challenging and therefore fun UX designs I've ever been involved with for two reasons:
- There were so many separate activities users could engage in: games, music, quests, videos, clothing, homes, buddies, awards, etc.
- The entire experience needed to be so simple an 8-year old could figure it out. One of the first things we discovered in our testing and research was how rare it is for parents to be with their kids during the kid's online gaming sessions.
They key to success was a lot of icons, colors, and simple text. It all began with the account creation process which, because of COPPA laws, we needed to be very strict about. We wanted the fun to start immediately, even before the user got to the game, so creating an account needed to be fun, engaging and easy to complete. During this one step our young user was asked to choose an animal type, a house type, name their animal, pick a password, and (if they have them) enter a coupon code and/or a friend code (which is part of a referral program). So understandably this is the section of the UX we spent the most time on, and the section which underwent the most iterations based on user feedback and conversion metrics.
Each of the 11 main systems of the game introduced its own complex set of UX challenges. For example, clothing. Players can use their Franks (play money) to purchase clothing for their character. So we needed to design and streamline the entire process for browsing and selecting clothing (tops, bottoms, head-wear, footwear, and accessories), purchasing the items, storing them in the user's account, and allowing the user to change their character's current clothing. The entire UX ended up including 5 separate UIs that needed to be streamlined and cohesive while keeping it all fun to do, and simple enough for a child to figure out.
: The game grew quickly as we carefully monitored a number of key metrics and were constantly making improvements and providing conversions. At the time we sold Franktown Rocks the game had over 2 million registered accounts.
Close-up of the main navigation bar from the Franktown Rocks game: