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TVO: Designed by Kids, for Kids!
by Angus Leech
TVOKids.com is a gigantic edu-tainment Web site hosted by a hamster, and visited by ten thousand children per day. Patricia Ellingson (Creative Head of Children's, Youth, and Daytime Programming at TVOntario) explains how this virtual space full of interactive learning activities and games was redesigned with the help of its number one audience - kids!
"We just redesigned our home page... And we did that using kids. We went to
schools and, for example, we had a site - it's a very, very deep site, there
are a lot of activities that we have built up over the last four or five years.
But they were very hard to find. So we went to kids... and asked them, "How would
you like to design this?" They all gave us drawings of how they'd like it done,
and we looked for things that kept showing up in the kids' drawings. One of
them was a toy chest - so our "game picker" is designed like a toy chest.
So kids helped us design that. They told us they wanted an information station
so that they would know where our tours were happening. They wanted to see pictures
of the hosts and their bios. And basically they designed the site for us. Which
was great. And that's where a lot of the colours come in too. We have some very
creative people, so they took the essence of a lot of the drawings and created
the [idea of the plastic hamster pipes] that go through [and give the Web site
its navigation and structure] - we actually have a pet hamster who is one of
our hosts [on TV]. And he actually talks, his name is Tumbleweed. So he is the
host of the site. And all of those pipes are part of the hamster housing that
they live in - they walk through these pipes. So it reflects the TV side, but
it's meant to be very colourful and engaging, and have its own brand. But it
was definitely designed by kids."
Angus Leech is English Editor for HorizonZero.