Hopscotch is a visual programming language for the iPad, built for everyone but with kids in mind. It’s an app that’s both toy and tool — it’s designed to be approachable, but underneath the gloss-candy surface is a powerful creative engine. You create simple scripts, associate them with illustrated characters, and suddenly you’re drawing pictures and making games. We branded the company, planned and designed the app’s first interface, and have remained as collaborators and advisers following its successful launch.
This was our first design product primarily intended for children, and we began by laying down ground rules for how kids' apps should work and feel: They should be visually engaging without pandering; empower both frustrated first-timers and addicted obsessives; and avoid gendered stereotypes. This fit nicely with the motives of the company’s founders, Jocelyn and Samantha, and a decision was made early on to avoid exhausted gender signifiers. Hopscotch is intentionally open-ended, and kids are left to create programs about whatever they might choose. Girls could make stories about princesses, and boys make games about robots, or vice versa — there would be no implication that one was more appropriate than the other.
As with all our projects, our work on Hopscotch began with a period of research and discovery. This started with a strategy brief outlining big picture concepts of use, atmosphere, and architecture. We then sketched simple wireframes, which translated easily to paper prototypes. Then we took what we learned and did it all over again, working that way for a few weeks before moving on to early design concepts, and then iterating those until we had something we were all satisfied with.
The app was released to acclaim and praise from teachers, Apple, and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg (squint and you’ll see him on stage). We’ve remained involved as strategic advisors and occasional design collaborators.