Andreea Ardelean — Service Design Consultant based in London, UK

Define MVP

UpDownLeftRight is trying to change the way kids play and pay. By wearing the AB wristband, you can turn every type of play imaginable into activity points. You can then exchange these in games for more experience points, upgrades and powers. Parents can also set up regular or one-of top-up to give the young people responsibility to manage their own purchases.


The start-up was in early stages and needed the user needs and the MVP of their parents & children app defined.

Following internal user research we had identified 3 main user types, children (7-16 year olds), parents of the children and game developers.

After talking to parents and children/young adults, we have organised play workshops to explore their needs and wants in an informal way, focusing on children and young people as they were the main user of the main product.

We quickly realised that their needs are very different than their parents. They wanted all the fun bits, and their parents the stats, control and visibility parts. Therefore it was quite challenging to define an MVP that works for both children and parents at the same time.

After prototyping on paper a few ideas, I did an usability test on an interactive prototype of the app for children. We found that the expectations and needs of the different age groups in our users were very different, the younger ones would feel overwhelmed while the older ones patronised. An single app experience for all children/young adult wasn’t feasible.

Outcomes and learnings
We found that children didn’t care about established navigation patterns, very easily adaptable and avid to explore everything on the screen. Icons are very important, to the point of the labels were completely ignored, but rarely it affected their comprehension.

Surprisingly, the older children were quite privacy conscious and not very comfortable to be photographed or filmed even if just for the purpose of testing the app. They all like the slickness of touch screens on their phones and devices, but they know it’s not appropriate for them and would prefer something more sturdy. It was quite interesting at times for them to think about what their parents would say about it (photographing, potentially smashing the screen, the visibility the parents would have on their activity).

Data is an interesting one. They know it’s important and tells them ‘things’, they contextualise it in more or less correct ways (“I want to know how fit and healthy I am, so I want to see my heart rate!”), but they are definitely looking for stats and loving them.

I also wrote a more in depth blog post about my experience in usability testing with 11year olds on medium.

My recommendation for UpDownLeftRight was to focus on separating even more the user types into personas, especially per age groups as this proved a big factor in their behaviour. This should translate into a more personalised experience in the app for each user group.

Another recommendation was to focus on where the needs of the parents meet the children/young adults for MVP as they are the ones purchasing the product and supporting or not the use of it.

Oh, and maybe add a night torch feature?

The AB wristbands