How do you design for kids in a way that engages and endures?
“We don’t expect kids to outgrow Pigzbe in the same way they would with a toy. Instead, we think they will constantly find new challenges and go back to it over a number of years.”
No parent wants the next product they buy their kids to be just a five-minute wonder. Pigzbe CXO Jon Marshall explains all the thought and effort that’s gone into ensuring Pigzbe will last, grow, be relevant and useful for years, not weeks.
So how do you build endurance into kids’ products?
“From a hardware perspective, when you’re designing for kids, you know it has to be robust. They are rough with things. That’s a given, so our engineers will make sure Pigzbe passes a lot of drop tests…
“But apart from that physical durability, the software experience needs to be long lasting as well — in the sense that it allows for expansion and can deliver growth in the experience over time. That might be through updates over the air, or improvements in models further down the line.”
Anything you’ve particularly worked on for Pigzbe?
“We’ve been obsessive about the levels of security we’ve built into the device, well above what you’d expect for something in the kids’ space.
“That’s the right thing to do for a couple of reasons. First, this is a financial product after all, and secondly, that extra layer of encryption helps future-proof Pigzbe for kids. As their understanding and use of cryptocurrencies develops, it will still be there for them.”
What does that additional security make possible?
“Well for example, while the core product is Pigzbe pink, which works as a game controller and notifier, there is also Pigzbe black that employs the same technology but has different firmware to allow it to function as a cold storage wallet.
“If you want to hold Wollo [Pigzbe’s family-friendly token] or any other cryptocurrency, and you have a reasonable amount, it’s good practice to store your private key, which gives you access to it, offline. These ‘cold storage wallets’ are usually like USB sticks, but with extra layers of password security. You save and store your private key on them, put them somewhere safe, and because they’re not connected to the Internet, your key can’t be hacked.
“With Pigzbe black we can create a cold storage wallet that serves two purposes. It means we immediately have an additional product for those who are already more experienced with cryptocurrency. But also for kids and families who graduate to becoming more interested in cryptocurrency, and perhaps hold larger amounts of it, Pigzbe can stay with them to serve this extra interest and give them the security they want.”
How do you think that changes perceptions of Pigzbe — for kids and parents?
“It gives the brand an additional level of seriousness and trust. It is definitely not ‘blockchain light’. There’s the same degree of security and forethought you would expect from blockchain at more advanced levels.
“I also think it’s important to remember that products like Pigzbe are not the same as toys. We’ve made it attractive to children through the detailing, colour and characterisation, but this is a product that involves technology and a rich learning experience. Therefore we don’t expect kids to outgrow Pigzbe in the same way they would with a toy. Instead, we think they will constantly find new challenges and go back to it over a number of years.”
Do you think there’s a secret to designing for a young audience today?
“When you design technology products for kids you have to understand that ultimately they are attracted to the world of adults. They aspire to having an iPad or a lovely Microsoft laptop or some amazing Samsung smartphone.
“While they may grow out of their toys, their love for these types of products increases rather than diminishes.
“So what’s been particularly important for Pigzbe is to find the right balance between having all the charming details that make it attractive to kids, but with a very high quality of manufacture that has parallels with the high-quality brands and products they’re already starting to aspire to. I think we’ve done that, but still kept an element of playfulness and humour.”
How do you retain their engagement, ideally for years rather than months?
“The mission for Pigzbe is to educate kids around 21st-century finance and blockchain while having fun with a product they like and an app they find engaging and easy to use.
“As for the game element, we don’t expect them to spend hour after hour playing it. That’s not Pigzbe’s reason to exist, and we’re not here to create something ‘addictive’. That wouldn’t be responsible. But what we have done is create a landscape for kids to explore that can be continually updated so there is always something new to discover.
“Ultimately I think it will be more than just that initial learning experience; hopefully it will become a tool for daily life. And there are a bunch of opportunities for Pigzbe to go up a gear as more relatives and family members get involved.
“I’m always an evangelist for the idea that if you design something well, to be appealing, functional and useable — that’s how you get mass adoption and longevity.”