The Pokémon Company has a long history of providing animated entertainment and game experiences to fans, in fact, they were founded in 1996. Having that legacy means they are no stranger to new content distribution channels and ways to create new fans. It was with that idea in mind we were first presented the opportunity to create a brand new way to view the animated series, as traditional web users sought to watch content on their mobile devices. The initial scope included all forms of mobile device, across both iOS and Android platforms. While the request is straight-forward, the range of considerations is broad when one factors in device sizes, universal ad requirements, legal requirements for younger audiences, and most importantly, maintaining legacy brands.
The key to success on any design initiative is open communication and aligning expectations from the start. This project was no different as we embarked on a full workshop, breaking down the ask into a set of easily accomplished goals. As part of my typical design approach, I often categorize features first by asking what are “Must Have”, “Like to Have”, “Dream Goal” features. Once we collectively categorize these elements, the team can begin to visualize an overall information architecture, allowing us to create full feature sets and begin our navigation planning. For Pokémon specifically, each season of the show also takes place in a specific region of the world as well as lives within a sub-category theme. This means that navigation could not simply be a large list of content as users might be looking to find something specific to a character or region; their expectation would be to carry along those particular storylines. After completing the initial workshops, wireframes and UI concepts were created and presented along with UX maps to ensure the team had the right approach in place. When building for multiple devices across platforms, it is also important that an app feels like it belongs as part of that specific environment. Introducing the unfamiliar can lead users to lose faith that the app is worth their time, or possibly be too complex to learn in the first place. With that knowledge in mind, a series of platform approaches were created in order to call out specific differences in each iteration of the app. As mentioned, the legacy of brand and UI execution was of utmost importance, so while we were crafting the experience, multiple variations of the UI were simultaneously presented for approval. A final aspect of design consideration was also to handle universal ad display. While this requirement is much more tailored to a responsive web experience, it was important that design not offload more work that was necessary to the data services team. In order to address this sticking point, the approach was to create an ad display area, with a “safe zone” guide display provided to the client so a single piece of creative could be populated while not losing any of the critical details.
Through the use of a well organized and strategic design process, we were able to not only release a five star rated series of apps to their respective stores, but continue to grow the app into multiple variations of both UX and UI designs. This initial app design also led to the eventual engagements of designing an experience for Apple TV as well as a commercial engagement with the Pokémon Pass App.
With the release of Apple TV to the consumer market, one of the biggest highlights working with the Pokémon team was expanding their initial vision of video on handsets and tablets back to the “big screen”. Having airplay as part of our initial design set on mobile allowed users to cast to their televisions, but knowing we could specifically design and build a native app for that purpose, was a great step in their digital evolution. Knowing that I have had a part in a lasting legacy remains something for which I am greatly proud of.
Feature Set Creation