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Wowza: Designing and practice for kid sites

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

How would you like to design a beautiful, colorful, stimulating website that is captivating, memorable, and allows you to let your creative juices flow without the need to worry too much about conventional usability and best practices? In today’s web design market, it’s rare that such a project would present itself — unless you were asked to design a website for children!

Websites designed for children have been largely overlooked in web design articles and design roundups, but there are many beautiful and interesting design elements and layouts presented on children’s websites that are worthy of discussion and analysis. There are also a number of best practices that are exclusive to web design for children’s sites — practices that should usually not be attempted on a typical website.

This article will showcase a number of popular commercial websites targeted towards children, with an analysis of trends, elements, and techniques used to help keep children interested and stimulated.

Designing Websites for Kids: Trends and Best Practices – Smashing Magazine

CHECK THAT LINK – THE ONE IN BLUE JUST ABOVE THIS SENTENCE… do it.

I can’t go into a ramble, as it’s Friday and I’m a busy-busy gal.  However, its definitely FANTASTICAL for the amount of content the author goes through. Seriously – check it out.

And to you, Mr. Louis Lazaris, thank you for creating such a jam-packed info-share!! Props.

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Links for Monday

February 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Elf Island & Children’s Internet team up for distribution
http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2009/02/childrens-internet-to-distribute-elf-island.html

The Rush to Social Networks
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006910

Popular Media ads
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=99917

Smartest brands in social media
http://mashable.com/2009/02/06/social-media-smartest-brands/

Kids Choice Nominees
http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b98781_kids_choose_miley_jobros_twilight.html

Myspace’s PR problem
http://www.netfamilynews.org/2009/02/myspaces-pr-problem.html

Why do people buy virtual goods?
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123395867963658435.html

Game developer’s choice awards
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=22208

MLB.TV enhancements
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/technology/internet/09mlb.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

Bandai’s “notebook” for younger kids
http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/02/09/bandai-netbook-featu.html

Cable Companies impose bandwidth restrictions
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=99737

Disney Interactive Reports Loss
http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/disney-interactive-reports-USD45m-loss

Can we change behavior with social gaming technology
http://millionsofus.com/blog/2009/01/31/can-we-change-behavior-with-social-gaming-technology/

The Online Generation Gap Narrows
http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006897

Answers & Advice for parents in keeping kids safe online
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/social-network-tips?utm_source=newsletter_02.05.09&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=feature1

Magi Nation to join Acclaim Games
http://www.virtualgoodsnews.com/2009/02/magination-to-join-acclaim-games.html

Nickelodeon puts content on iPhone
http://mashable.com/2009/02/05/spongebob-on-iphone/

Teen chains doing well despite economy
http://adage.com/article?article_id=134348

ESPN is trying something tricky with charging to watch
http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/06/1444258&from=rss

Ten Ton Hamster goes down
http://www.tentonhammer.com/hamster

I PROMISE my blog will not become a link-master-general… The rambling is building up once again, lol.  It’s only a matter of time before the dam explodes.

Marketing to Teens & Tweens

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

Tween Spending and Influence

Even in these tough economic times, tweens wield $43 billion in spending power annually, and influence the spending of billions more on everything from cell phones to vacations to automobiles.

Spanning ages 8-14, these 21 million U.S. children are still largely influenced and guided by their parents — but eager for independence and to be recognized as individuals. And with an average $2,047 each to spend, retailers, brand marketers, food manufacturers, entertainment companies and others are in hot pursuit.

“Tween Spending and Influence” introduces you to these ultimate multitaskers (a trait they share with their mothers!) as they do their homework, text message with friends, and roam the Internet, all at the same time. Plus, you’ll discover how much tweens get for spending money, where it comes from and what they spend it on. What’s more, you’ll find out how boys’ and girls’ perceptions of brands and what’s “cool” guide their product preferences for apparel, electronics, candy, fast food and more.

EPM Communications, Marketing to Teens & Tweens

The fine folks over at EPM communications, Inc, have put together this great collection of info regarding tween spending & influence.  I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but soon will be.

The editors of Youth Market Alerts (who rock) give a wee sneak peek on that link above, so it’s worth taking a gander if you’re thinking you might wish to purchase?

Cheers!

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VW Folks: You Should Go To This Too

October 14, 2008 Leave a comment

If you haven’t signed up for the Kids Online unconference, you should as soon as you can.  We are trying to get a good idea of head count.

It’s extremely affordable (especially as conferences go) and should give us a whole day to talk about all the topics we usually only get a session or two to discuss.  Plus it’s an unconference, so everyone can participate and anyone can suggest a topic.

Let me know if you have any questions.  There are still a couple sponsorship opportunities available too. 

Sign up now for the Kids Online unconference « Joi Podgorny

Here’s the thing… we all have particular opinions about our chosen market, and there are MANY new strategies & innovative ideas coming down the line that you MAY OR MAY NOT be overly thrilled about (or perhaps too thrilled for)…

These community UNconferences are perfect for getting a “feel” of what others in our market are thinking, hoping, aiming to accomplish for the youth demographic. 

I know MANY of you fine folks have these wonderful goals/objectives for your audience & the content of your virtual world, this is your time to step forward and talk to fellow VW folks and let your self be known!!  Or, if you are unhappy with the current trend of youth virtual worlds, don’t sit back and let others say THEIR piece – you go for it too!  EMPOWERMENT OF EMPOWERMENTS, FOLKS!

We all know how much I love to ramble, and this VERY NICELY PRICED virtual world UNconference for the tater tots will be a grand, grand, grand time for let your voice ring too.

So… BRING IT, PEEPS.  Let’s get this show boat on the row boat! 

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Passing this along: Marketing & Children, some reading

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment

On Mondays I feel like I have all the time in the world to read — not skim — anything and everything.

Even long, complicated articles.

You too? Here’s some recommended reading:

At Sea in a Marketing-Saturated World: The Eleventh Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercialism Trends: 2007-2008. From the Commercialism in Education Research Unit at Arizona State University. Browse CERU’s other publications.

Monograph 19: The Role of the Media in Promoting and Reducing Tobacco Use. From the National Cancer Institute. Seems that tobacco marketing tactics are mimicked by the food industry.

Consumer Behavior: The Psychology of Marketing. From Dr. Lars Perner at the University of Southern California. This is how it’s done.

Corporate Babysitter » Blog Archive » Heavy Monday morning reading on marketing to children

Ooo!  These are great tidbits o readin’.  Thanks and props to the ever vigilant Corp Babysister!

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Behavior Tracking Online

July 12, 2008 1 comment

Interesting developments at the Senate Commerce Committee hearings on behavioural profiling yesterday, as US Senators discussed the privacy implications of targeted web advertising, data-mining and the massive amounts of data collection the private sector engages in online. As Ira Teinowitz writes in today’s AdAge, senators are somewhat split about whether the practices “go too far”, i.e. do they infringe on individuals’ Constitutional and civic rights, and/or warrant new privacy laws. However, from what I’ve read, there also seems to be somewhat of a consensus that behavioural profiling raises legitimate questions about “who watches us and how that information gets used.” With exceptions, of course…such as former marketing executive Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). According to Wendy Davis at MediaPost, DeMint called the prospect of new privacy laws “a solution in search of a problem.

Gamine Expedition: Behavioural Tracking Under the Microscope (US)

I highly suggest popping up to Sara Grimes’ site (link above) and taking a look at that coverage.  I’m holding my cards a bit longer before I express my views – simply because I have pros/cons on both sides and not really the best amount of time/brain-space to get it the proper ramble it deserves.

Happy weekend, everyone. 🙂

p.s. I started a post on “motivation” today – regarding why/how people judge & play virtual worlds/mmos/etc, but didn’t have the time to get into the meet of it.  Hopefully by Monday?

Cheers!

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Check it out: Info on social web environments

December 3, 2007 1 comment

Marie Curie once said, “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. ”

If machinima and avatars are not in your parental lexicon, deep breath, relax…Shaping Youth is out to unfog the lens and peek into virtual teaching and learning on the teen grid of Second Life.

Virtual worlds, emerging social media networks, and just about any kids’ digital dialogue can be perceived as a ‘threat’ by concerned parents…so we’re big on deconstructing “media, shaping youth” to amp up comfort levels via knowledge.

[Click the link below for the ENTIRE ENTRY…]
Shaping Youth » Virtual Worlds As Learning Environs For Global Kids

That’s a great resource from Amy over at Shaping Youth for anyone looking to dive into learning about the social webworld.  Definitely worth a gander for links and lingo!

(And thanks for the kudos, Amy 🙂 )

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Awesomely Interesting Article on Virtual Worlds

September 26, 2007 6 comments

Youth-Oriented Virtual Worlds to hit 20 Million Users in 2011

53% of all American child and teen Internet users will visit virtual worlds at least once a month by 2011 says eMarketer Senior Analyst Debra Aho Williamson. Right now that number sits at about 24%, with only 9% visiting a virtual world weekly. In her new study, Kids and Teens Online: Virtual Worlds Open New Universe, Williamson, whose recent background is in studying social networks, lays out a detailed survey of the new, fertile market. “Several marketers have already been active in virtual worlds for kids and teens,” Williamson said in an interview with VirtualWorldsNews.com. “These companies are on the vanguard. Definitely from a marketers’ perspective, virtual worlds haven’t gotten to the point of social networks. Everyone wants to use social networks to reach a youth audience. Virtual worlds are where social networks were a year or two ago.

“I think we may well see a growth trajectory similar to what we’ve seen for social networking,” continued Williamson. “Virtual worlds can be an addictive, immersive, compelling environment. They offer a lot of things for kids and teens to do. Just over half of kids and teens will visit virtual worlds at least on a monthly basis by 2011. Already
you’re seeing session times of a half hour, an hour, and ten hours a month. 2008 and 2009 are where the growth is slightly bigger than ’10 and ’11. You’ve got other media companies jumping in the game. Disney is getting aggressive. MTV and Nick are getting very aggressive. Right now what we’re seeing is a lot more development activity and figuring out how a virtual world fits into media assets. I think as we get into ’08 and ’09 is when you see a lot of traction.”

The study contains a wealth of data on virtual worlds and virtual worlds usage with the goal of providing marketers who may not be involved in the space an opportunity to hit the ground running. One interesting note for developers, though, is the way that marketers are still approaching virtual worlds.

“Probably less than 10% of [Whyville’s] ad revenue is banner ads,” COO Jim Goss told eMarkter. “We throw them in to speak the language that Madison Avenue is used to right now.”

The common wisdom in virtual worlds circles has been that billboards and banner ads are an ineffective way for marketers to approach the immersive space, but Williamson still sees them as a reasonable way to test the waters.

“From a virtual world perspective, there are so many better ways to engage a user than to stick up a billboard or slap a banner somewhere,” she said. “If you think about it from a marketer’s perspective, though, if they want to experiment and don’t have the time or budget to run a full-fledged campaign, a banner ad or a billboard is still better than
nothing.”

She explains that the current level of technology adds to the approach. That’s one reason why certain companies, like Scion, have taken vanguard approaches to virtual worlds and invested in novel
marketing strategies, but others have held back.

“I remember the early days when people were complaining about the effort it took to build a web page,” Williamson said. “It was a lot of money and development time. I see something like that happening in virtual worlds. There’s a lot of development that needs to be done to create a large campaign in virtual worlds. It’s different. It’s not turnkey. The technology is different for all the worlds. I think that’s where you see the push back from companies that don’t have the time or resources for a full campaign.”

That will change, though, as the technology improves and as ad spending increases for the media that surrounds virtual worlds, says Williamson.

“What I really found was that virtual worlds are really at a sweet spot,” she said. “They are attractive to young teens and kids who are into games, but they’re also attractive to older teens who are interested in communication and socializing. They’re really at the
intersection of gaming and social networks. Both of those things are available in virtual worlds.”

eMarketer predicts that the worldwide ad spend for social networks will hit $3,603 million in 2011 when video games will receive $1,938 million.

For a more detailed report, check out the full study. Also, I’ll be moderating a panel on “Kids and Teen Worlds – What You Need to Know” at the Virtual Worlds Fall Conference & Expo, October 10-11 at the San Jose Convention Center. I’ll be joined by representatives from Stardoll, Nickelodeon, Habbo, and Neopets, so it should be an informative session.

Virtual Worlds News: Youth-Oriented Virtual Worlds to hit 20 Million Users in 2011

BAH! THEY’RE TELLING ALL THE SECRETS. No, not really– but still. Hahaha.  In all seriousness- it’s exciting to see all the opportunities and possibilities associated with Virtual Worlds and that people think they’ll be so huge still in a few years.  Rock on.

I’m quite jealous of the author of the this post & their pane at VW in the Fall out in San Jose. BAH!

Which is why anyone in New York intersted in VWs should come to the Tween Mashup this Friday and say hi to me as I’m exploring Virtual Worlds with an interesting panel who are doing their own unique interpretations of VWs! (DO IT! YOU KNOW YOU WANNA GO!) 😀

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Props to Joi Podgorny!

September 12, 2007 Leave a comment

The Online Community Report recently interviewed uber-guru, Joi Podgorny (my podcasting buddy).  She’s a ROCKSTAR in online communities & specializes in tweens (just like me, yay).  Check out some of the INSIGHTFUL things she says:

What are the major online community and social media trends you have been paying attention to in the last 12 months?

Wow, September last year seems so long ago, doesn’t it? I guess the predominant social media trend that I have found myself coming back to this year has been Immersive Gaming Environments, especially Virtual Worlds. It is definitely the newest generation/iteration of online community and it has been a very interesting year in that space.

The most important development from the explosion of Virtual Worlds we have seen this year is that more expanded definitions are being sought for what “virtual worlds” actually means. No longer are Second Life, Everquest and WOW the only examples people can name. Online community folks can name multiple virtual and dynamic worlds, as well as platforms and tools that are used daily in these environments. There are now offerings for multiple different populations of users and demographics – and the space is only going to expand in the next 12 months.

I think another aspect that will be interesting to watch in this space is how these environments will (or will not) become financially viable. Assimilating marketing and advertising messages into communities is very tricky in any context and this year we have seen some very heavy-handed attempts in Virtual Worlds specifically. That said, these pioneers are making these mistakes for everyone else. We should start to see less obvious attempts at marketing in these worlds in the months to come. Hopefully, the Marketers will start to realize what the Online Community Managers know to be true, which is that you have to get to know your community before you can market to them. Everyone could benefit from learning how to become a member of the community they are
targeting, involving the community in the decision making process and, sometimes, deciding against marketing specific items to them because of the wisdom gained from the community.

Your work tends to focus on Tweens and children. How is that different than working with the current adult Internet population? Are their needs and habits significantly different?

I like the question regarding whether kids’ needs are different than adults’ needs online. My answer is yes and no. Adults are usually more aware of their multiple identities, both on and offline. They have
their work personality, their friends’ personality, their (seemingly) anonymous online personalities, etc and they are more able to see the lines of distinction between these identities. Kids also have multiple identities but they are less paranoid about separating them. Many kids, teens and young adults are comfortable with living aspects of their lives very publicly, online. I see pros and cons to both ways of identity juggling. Adults seem to have a better grasp (again, usually) on the ramifications of their actions and will/should act accordingly. Kids/Teens are freer in their identity exploration and therefore, they are able to learn so much more than if they were in a more protected
stance.

One aspect that I think hasn’t been looked at as thoroughly as it could have been, is how to deal with late tween/early teen audiences specifically. We have reached a point in our industry where there are
handful of people with experience in managing youth communities. We know about moderation, COPPA compliance, filters and the like. Communities/Virtual Worlds like Club Penguin and Webkinz cater to younger children and their parents and have very strict parameters regarding how communication happens between users. But the population that I think needs more attention is that of kids between 11-15 (and the outliers). These young adults are huge communicators online, but
are sometimes held back from their true potential due to the strict and rather archaic ideologies as to how they are allowed to interact online. Don’t get me wrong, I am a youth online privacy advocate from the old school, but I think we need to look at the legislation and rules we put in place years ago, and see if any updates need to be made to accommodate where our communities have evolved. If we don’t, I think we could miss out on some great opportunities for everyone online, not just kids and teens.

What do you see as the most significant opportunity to use online community for social good? What about for commercial purposes?

There is some great stuff happening in the online community space in regards to social good. Tons of awareness is being virally spread for seemingly infinite causes. Facebook and other social networking sites have become distribution channels for their members’ causes du jour. NFPs have resources like NTEN to offer tech and community driven resources for research and development. There is a move from raising awareness to creating action that is starting to happen everywhere in our society and it’s especially present online. The “armchair activists” who felt they were affecting change by clicking on a button online everyday or adding a badge to their profile are evolving into people craving a more substantial involvement and a desire to actually make the change happen. The Zazengo platform, launching this fall, is an example of how new tools and networks online are helping facilitate
this sea change. They will offer a shared engine which enables organizations and individuals to lead their social networks in focused, on the ground, grass-roots action projects. It’s kind of like the
missing operating system for “think globally, act locally” – with the new emphasis on the “act” part.

As far as community for commercial purposes, that’s a BIG umbrella. I deal in the entertainment realm, which is exciting as we have the impetus and usually the budgets to push the boundaries of the
interactive experience. MTV/Nickelodeon (Viacom) and Disney, among many others, are always able to make a big showing in this space. If we can start to articulate solid and positive directions for online communities and then have them carried out through those distribution channels, the future for online communities in general will look very positive indeed.

What should every CEO know about online communities?

It has been said before a ton of times, but I will keep saying it until it becomes common knowledge – Communities are hard work. They take resources to design and plan, but more importantly, they take resources to maintain. This rule is true whether you are making your own community or partnering with someone else’s for a specific initiative. The decision to add online community to your strategy is one that should not be taken lightly. It’s like having a child – there is planning before and then continually after. And just like a child, managing an online community is difficult, frustrating, rewarding, and amazing all at the same time – in short, very complicated. Think about if and how you will be able to manage the community and all of it’s probable and unpredictable evolutions BEFORE deciding to add it to your portfolio. The time and money spent will be worth it.

Online Community Report

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Podcast. Modcast. Tween Cast. Kid cast. Us-cast?

September 9, 2007 5 comments

YAY!

So guess what…

I’m jumping the gun– but I’m giving ya’ll a weekend heads up. Ms. Joi Podgorny and I will be starting a podcast regarding kid communities, kid media, online media, and entertainment. Why? Because I strong arm her into thoughtful chats nearly every day (or vice versa)– and (if you’ve followed this blog at all you’d know–>) I love to ramble, and she does too. So, between me & joi, you’re gonna get a HUGE dose of everything-ness (and yes, that’s my new technical term).

If you are interested in participating in our adventure, let us know. We’ve already started a “wish list” of contibutors (and if you and I have previously spoken, or you’ve ever come into contact with this blog –> you’re probably already on that wish list).

More as it comes 🙂 Any support, wishes, or advice would be lovely!!!