Online Consumer Education for Kids
The YouAreHere website introduces basic economic concepts and describes how the market works to kids. It explains the role the FTC plays within the market and, most importantly, it helps kids understand the implications of their choices and how to be an educated consumer. Objectives: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wanted to create a valuable resource that would educate children about potentially fraudulent or unfair business practices in the marketplace. The agency decided that the best way to reach, engage, and educate children was online and partnered with Sage to conceptualize, design, and produce a fun and interactive website, full of educational lessons and games, that would appeal to kids ages 11 - 14. Our Process: Sage started the project with a series of message workshops, gaining feedback from both children and educators on a wide range of topics. Discussions included the online habits of students, their favorite websites and online gaming preferences, and how consumer protection was currently taught. The workshops also looked at the best ways to inform educators once the FTC website became available as a teaching resource.
With this accumulated knowledge, Sage began developing the website using outlines, storyboards and initial illustrations. The location for the stories in the interactive site was a shopping mall, due to the many opportunities it offered for consumer education. The creative team focused on developing engaging characters that would give the user someone to identify with inside the game, as well as interesting secondary characters that would advance the story and serve as guides for the user throughout the mall scenarios.
To get feedback throughout the process about the setting, colors, and characters, Sage developed a water cooler site that allowed selected students and educators to review the initial interface and character design and provide important input early on in the process.
Sage divided the site into different mall areas, with each area focusing on a unique consumer topic and providing interactive lessons, games and character scenes. Characters were highly stylized, designed to appeal to the age demographic and given unique and entertaining personalities.
Once the setting and characters had been established, Sages moved forward with illustrations, audio recording, animation, and programming. The agency recorded all audio and voiceovers with the distinctive qualities of the characters, and used the earlier feedback and preferences shared by students as a guide to making the characters engaging and the overall site fun. Extensive programming was conducted to insure that the many interactive elements and games would provide a unique experience every time a user visited the site. Results:
Initial responses to the site were overwhelmingly positive. Although the development process of YouAreHere was both complex and detailed, the result was a seamless, animated website offering games, lessons, and entertaining scenes that can be shared and enjoyed by students, parents, and educators alike. Even though each mall scenario is independently educational and teaches important lessons about the marketplace directly to the user, the site also offers more detailed lesson plans through downloadable PDFs available in the Parent and Teacher section of the site.
Because of the initial success ofthe site, Sage and FTC are developing additional mall areas and lesson plans focusing on identity theft, privacy, and fraud.