2012 Mobile Awards

mobile, web, IoT, desktop, connected devices
design champion, best studio, best start-up & IoT
plus 20 specialist nomination categories

demand design, celebrate courage

Key Dates

ABC Play School Art Maker App for iPad [DRAFT]



Project Overview

The Play School Art Maker app for iPad is a fun way for kids to freely create pictures, animations and story slideshows using their favourite Play School toys and craft items. They can even add their own audio narration, upload their own photos as backgrounds, and save their art to share with friends and family. Aimed at kids aged 2-6 years, Play School Art Maker is an immersive, unique offering, encouraging imagination and creativity through open play.


Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Amy Nelson – Producer/Art Director
Meena Tharmarajah – User Experience Designer
Tali Gal-on – Lead Designer
Jake Macmullin – Technical Lead
Secret Lab Pty Ltd – Development
Dale Smart – Designer
Venetia Armstrong – Head of Play School Art Department
Sabretooth Sound – Sound Design
Kate Highfield – Early Learning Childhood Consultant

Project Brief

Aimed at kids aged 2-6 years, Play School Art Maker is an immersive, unique offering, encouraging imagination and creativity through open play. Children are free to make and design whatever they like - there are no rules or timers.

The app is quintessentially Play School, with a beautiful hand-made aesthetic and a strong focus on storytelling. Featuring all new content designed especially for the iPad, and playful sound design with the much loved Play School piano and familiar voices of presenters Alex Papps and Karen Pang, the app successfully extends the loved and trusted Play School brand onto this new platform.
Recent episodes of Play School are also available to watch from within the app.

With a four star rating in the iTunes store, over 135,000 downloads within Australia and over 100,000 internationally since launching in November 2011, and great customer feedback, we feel that we achieved an app with first class user experience, functionality, ease of interface, and great design for the target audience.

Project Innovation / Need

The Art Maker app is an entirely new, unique, rich interactive experience developed specifically for the iPad and not replicated anywhere on the Play School website. The app is tightly aligned with the Play School brand capturing the look, feel, aesthetic and philosophy of Play School in its design and interactivity. The app appeals to the whole Play School demographic (2 – 6 year olds). It’s easy for young kids and also offers varying levels of complexity for older kids in the shoulder of the demographic.

>2-3yo – easily able to create pictures, can make animations with only a little guidance required, and love playing with the puzzles over and over
>3-4yo – focus heavily on making animations and adding their own voice
>5-6yo – can use the more complex feature to make their own story slideshows from the pictures and animations they’ve saved.

Other unique features of the app include:
>adding own voice to user created animations and story slideshow builder
>ability to watch play school directly from within the app
>being used as a an English language learning aid in China
>The app is a useful tool for children needing help with learning speech patterns – e.g.

“My 6 year old has low functioning autism and this engages him constructively for ages. An Australian accent and great words like ‘Diddle’, ‘Big Ted’, ‘Pom-Pom’ and ‘Jemima’ have the consonant-vowel-consonant combination we are using to achieve speech, and we are getting close” – iTunes comment by Specialneedsmum

User Experience

We took a very user-centric focus to create a solid user experience:

>We surveyed the landscape of kids’ apps, noting our key competitors to find out where they were succeeding and failing and why
>Observation of kids using various competitor apps to get a feel for their behaviour with different types of apps and also with iPads as devices
> lots of rapid prototyping and iterative design and informal testing
> conducted several rounds of formal testing with 10 families with children in the target audience age range
> had a User Experience Designer available across the entire project
> we filmed informal and formal testing sessions so that we could show our production team first hand the kinds of behaviour observed in those sessions
> worked with an Early Childhood Media + Technology Consultant – we sought their advice during our early brainstorming phase, right through to final testing, to gain insight to how young children and their parents typically use iPads and apps.

Users engage with the app in the following ways:
>create pictures with your favourite Play School characters
>decorate scenes with a large range of art and craft items
>animate pictures to create movies with your own songs or narration
>use a photo from your own album as a background
>save pictures and animations to share
>make a story slideshow using up to 8 of your pictures and animations
>watch episodes of Play School

Project Marketing

The target audience for our marketing strategy was children who watch Play School or use the Play School website, who have an iPad in their home or have other touch devices (eg; iPhone) and parents whose choose Play School (TV or online) for their children, who have an iPad. With this in mind we targeted our promotional activity to Play School on ABC1 and ABC2. Without the budget to activate external advertising, we relied on publicity and cross promotion throughout ABC including online, social media channels, national radio networks, and TV promos. Regular promotion through the iTunes store was also undertaken.

We’ve received incredible reviews from across the world including China, US, Turkey, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

“Whilst designed for children there is a huge amount of fun to be had playing around with childhood memories in ways I never thought possible. A great app regardless for you age and a giant amount of fun.” – iTunes Store, TheMcJones

“My two girls 3 and 6 absolutely love this app!!! The play school characters and movie making are fantastic!! An amazing app and it was free!!!” iTunes Store, MulwalaFamily

This category relates to applications associated with children and early childhood development.
More Details