DISCOVER Tasked to develop a new skateboard for Fisher Price the two current models were reviewed. The immediate reaction to their sizes and shapes suggested they were toys not sports products. They did not resemble a ‘real’ skateboard leaving kids uninterested. Decisions made with a focus on safety paradoxically led to a less safe experience. Handles which encouraged kids to put their feet in an unbalanced style combined with wide decks and loose trucks caused the boards to be wobbly, tipping easily. These issues became opportunities to ideate on after we researched the culture and market.
UNDERSTAND For the design and marketing teams to learn about skating and its culture we invited 4 - 8 year old skaters to our building parking lot for a Playlab. We talked to them about what they wore, what components are important and why skating is cool. Big graphics and bright colors on their gear stood out as key visuals. Watching a four year old try to be like the older kids we saw how fast kids pick up the sport, our product would need to quickly adapt to their growth. Skate Magazines and online forums where researched to gain a well-rounded understanding of the sport and its culture. Mood and information boards were created to draw inspiration from as ideation was begun.
CREATE Early ideas were drawn up, solutions for boards to safety equipment were put down on paper. Fueling a brainstorm session with the design team for the refinement stage. Through review the most viable concepts were pared down to and elaborated on. Series of sketches explored various concept avenues. The team began to gravitate towards the idea of sliding the wheels to lower the center of gravity and lowering the deck. This would make it safer by being more balanced and eliminating the ability of the board to pop up. Testing would be required to discover the viability of this plan.
TEST The marketing and design teams worked together to gather a selection of concepts for a focus group. The question remained if mothers would understand the theory behind the concept. While they liked many of the other ideas we were pleasantly surprised to see mothers easily understand the solution we were coming to internally. We knew safety was top of mind for moms but we were not sure if the concept would present that sensibly. With the successful focus group test, marketing was completely on board with our design concept. Next kids would test our first crude model.
DISCOVER A proof of concept was built to test scale and shape. ABS was milled from dimensions believed appropriate based on competitive board sizes and the latest ergonomic data. The model was brought to the test lab for kids to stand on. The scale was about right; we noted minor adjustments to make. The most exciting part was as the kids played around with the board we saw that our concept worked! Even when a child placed both feet on one end of the board it did not tip forward. We could prevent children from falling. When we tested the wheels in their common location (closer to the center of the board) the kids could easily tip the board up. We now knew we had a successful concept.
UNDERSTAND Input from the engineering and marketing teams was implemented with design’s vision. Rendered Images were created for impact with the sales team in the coming line review. The ID product spec was created and a cost analysis was begun. Data was also given to the model shop to build a first round prototype. The CAD assembly was audited in a safety review and issues were addressed. The prototype would be a final proof for any remaining issues.
SOLVE With a built prototype second safety audits were performed. After product photos were taken the model and data were handed to the engineering team. Collaborating with the design team considerations for manufacturing were made while maintaining the design vision. Based on the early research in the skate culture, tribal markings and graffiti art inspired the graphics. The product was released in 2011 at Toys R’ Us, Amazon and Target. Reviews of the product have been glowing with mothers and kids loving the product.
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Francis Fave
Product Designer @ Moose Toys Melbourne, Australia