Playmation was an innovation initiative from Disney, an effort to create a new form of play, designed to get kids off the couch and away from screens. Leveraging popular Marvel characters such as Iron Man and the Hulk, the product united interactive physical toys with a digital app experience.

AvengersNet App


The importance of designing an intuitive on-boarding experience for the physical gear’s companion app, AvengersNet, would be paramount to Playmation’s success. Due to technical restraints around the physical product, the app would have to do a lot of heavy lifting to make sure first time users would understand how to have the best Playmation experience.

I leveraged quantitative and qualitative data from field tests and focus groups to identify key areas of need: clarifying the role of the app versus the role of the physical gear, enforcing this engagement loop, as well as a number of usability issues. I presented a proposal for in-app solutions to executive leadership for approval.

Upon executive approval, we did a first pass on creating the new features and proceeded to playtesting with kids, our target users. I was able to take the results from these tests and create a plan of action for further improvement of the on-boarding experience. I then presented the results and design plan to executive stakeholders across Playmation and received full leadership approval to move forward.

App onboarding flow

There were a number of conditional factors and scenarios to take into account when determining the user’s path when setting up their gear and installing new content. I created the below flow as a tool for technical development of the onboarding experience, laying out the order of possible events for users new to the app. It accounts for the primary scenarios of our target users.


Content Installation Flow

Product requirements, technical limitations, and the necessity of stable wireless communication between the app and the gear led to unexpected complexity in implementation. This resulted in the need for a very detailed functional flow for developers and QA testers to follow to ensure the process performed as intended.


I created a strategy and process for Playmation’s testing, structured around best practices and properly utilizing our internal Disney resources. I made the below deck summarizing new testing strategy and process for the team. I also used what I learned to write a Medium piece about testing with children: The Kids Are All Right (Subjects for Usability Testing).


For all of our products, I ran fit tests to evaluate fit and comfort for physical products and playtests for usability and holistic experience evaluation. I wrote reports of our findings with recommendations for next steps.

In this usability test, we had kids put on the prototype for Playmation V2 (lightly censored here due to NDA) and play through an early version of the first time user content. We were looking for comprehension and ease of use in the onboarding process, including following instructions and learning moves.

Download Playtest Report (password: disneypmn)

Increase User Engagement

After the launch of Playmation, a pattern began to emerge in our analytics: users would play the same bit of content over and over again, then stop playing completely. One solution to this was to make sure the user had a very clear understanding of their progression within the game content. I designed feature additions and UI changes for the AvengersNet app. The goal here was to reinforce and reward players for what they have already done, raise awareness that there is additional content available, and make it very clear how to access that new content.