This is an exciting week for the team as this week we are out at nursery's, toddler groups and after school clubs holding focus groups with children, parents, grandparents and even a school Lollypop lady! As a first time research lead this week was so important to me. Our funding was to create a prototype program for developing mental well-being in the early years, by creating a digital product that children, parents and teachers can interact with but there was no possible way we could create that without getting out and spending some quality time with those very people. This week we've met awesome parents who have shared their top priorities and concerns about what information they do currently access and where they want more. We've had our minds blown by a group of 6 year olds who helped us think about the make up of our characters and the stories they needed to tell. This weeks focus groups were all about testing the waters with our ideas, some of our initial images and gathering feedback on what the platform would need to do to be the platform they need. It's been a great week
What I hadn't taken in to account though was the old adage - never work with children or animals. It turns out this is as true in research as it is in Television. How exactly do you test character designs and story boards with a group of 2 year olds? It turns out the answer is messy - glitter (and stickers and Pens and sparkly stars that stick to everything but the paper) We want all our audience involved so that included our youngest members. Joining playgroups armed with blown up images of dragons showing a bunch of emotions and animals looking like humans we encouraged the youngest children to colour in the images they liked the best or to decorate their favourite characters all while clinicians carefully kept an eye on children's reactions as characters landed in front of them. Smiles and animal noises went in the tick pile, confused/constipated faces caused characters to go back to the drawing board (and a few parents to do nappy checks)
Fortunately no one cried at any of the designs and there was lots of delight. The team left wearing more of the glitter then the paper we were carrying but we have our instructions from little fingers and it's time to go to work on draft one!