The initial situation and problem of our client "Deutsche Bahn Fernverkehr" was the variety of different communication channels for their target group of children and families, as at the time of the project start these were not yet linked and did not pay off each other.
In the conception phase, we ask ourselves how we can bring together the experience of children's magazine "Leselok", children's tickets, colouring sheets, the small toy figures and the experience of "riding the train" and how we can expand this experience.
We found the solution in an augmented reality app for children that allows 2D and 3D objects to be scanned and thus gives every Deutsche Bahn medium an augmented reality. Elements of the magazine, the game figures and also the information symbols at stations and in the trains can be scanned and provide users with information, for example, on how the internet gets on the trains.
At the beginning of the development, we identified the target group aged 7 to 11 years and determined which interests and needs are currently present in the target group. The needs, such as "exploring the environment", collecting objects or rewards, comparing with other users and the possibility to work towards a concrete goal. But the app should also enable "self-expression" via an avatar. All of these needs, in turn, should contribute to the core feature of the app, argumented reality. This feature also gives the app its name "The Little ICE 3D".
Based on this, we refined the concept and finalised the story of the app. The app should enable users to develop their own avatar by collecting certain markers in the AR world. The markers are the symbols described in the Deutsche Bahn environment, in the "Leselok", in the colouring templates, in the maps with places of interest and in the game figures. Each scan of a marker offers added value for the user. From videos to games, a lot of additional content can be unlocked here. The idea led to the UX design.
UX design for the "child" target group
In the defined target group 7 to 11 years, we organised larger tests with prototypes and other games to better understand the needs and interests of the target group. The target group includes reading beginners and reading professionals. While the 7 to 8 year olds focus on the world of the little ICE and want to get to know it, the 9 to 11 year olds are already interested in more complex issues - like the WLAN in the ICE. The app is intended to serve both interest groups.
First, we sketched out a possible structure of the app and recorded certain processes in the app. Here it is important to anticipate how the young target group behaves in apps.
This starts with the fact that young users from the age of 4 like to hold the smartphone in landscape mode because it hardly works otherwise with small hands, but from the age of 11 or 12 they like to use portrait mode. Of course, this behaviour must be taken into account in the implementation.
Exciting: With current smartphones that have no edges, younger users have problems holding the smartphone because they constantly press their fingers on the screen without wanting to.
During various tests of our prototypes, it became clear to us once again how important it is that the user immediately understands what added value the app offers and which areas of the app fulfil which needs. We adjusted the main menu four times during development until it was coherent for all users. In addition, we established a guide mode that enables users to quickly familiarise themselves with all areas of the app. Thanks to the intuitive design, we were able to do without text almost completely.
There are no barriers that would exclude novice readers. All buttons and important functions are designed in such a way that you don't accidentally hit buttons by holding the smartphone more roughly. The prototype was final and we went into development. You can download the app from 15.04. in the Google Playstore and the AppStore. With the app, Deutsche Bahn has managed to get children running through the ICE to get the Leselok and children's tickets so that they can try them out with the app.
There is a conscious engagement with the brand - also because the parents can travel in a more relaxed way because the children are busy. A win-win situation for the whole family. The app is regularly updated and new content from the magazine or the website is included.
My conclusion and also my personal highlight of the app: Through the combination of different technologies, it is possible to scan both 2D and 3D objects. This way, children can explore and get to know the entire Deutsche Bahn cosmos. The intuitive design makes it easy to play and ensures great fun for the user and the customer.