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A tween, beaming with excitement, looks at a Koosh Ball, a toy made up of thin rubber filaments radiating the center, a toothed animated monster flying in a helicopter device, and a Spirograph drawing set.

PlayMonster: Adapting the trade show floor to a digital experience

2020 quarantine—PlayMonster, the toy and game company home to classic brands like Koosh, Spirograph, and Stratego, as well as the creators of Snap Ships, Drone Home, and Yeti In My Spaghetti, needed a way to equip their sales team for Zoom trade shows in a way that would make an impact.

  1. Eye icon Design
  2. Hand icon Build

Snap Ships, a flagship brand for PlayMonster, shows a focus on strong visuals and animation.

The Party Games navigation prototype shows a man standing behind a big yellow couch, smiling. On the couch are an oversized hourglass timer, instructional playing cards, a box with games, an avatar with sunglasses, and two green legs sticking up in the air from behind a pillow.

The Party Games navigation prototype shows the visual nature of the site, with clickable elements leading to individual brand pages.

Challenge

PlayMonster relies on their hyped-up presence at toy industry trade shows for their B2B transactions with key big box stores, as well as international and regional chains. With showrooms moving online, PlayMonster wanted to stand out over Zoom calls and draw attention—just like their in-person booths had in previous years.

Design

The project kicked-off by getting to know PlayMonster's users. “Design Monsters” and Highlanders gathered over Zoom calls for an abbreviated design sprint, where lightning demos and interviews were synthesized into a brief that would inform the process to come.

Since the customer’s experience was guided by a sales team member, focus on text and navigation were downplayed, and the designs that emerged were heavy with impactful visuals and animations. These initial designs were tested again with users, before being harnessed into patterns that could be replicated across the various PlayMonster brands.

Build

Build testing and developer involvement started during the design phase to ensure that the designs were generally viable. Likewise, after the transition to the build phase, the PlayMonster and Highland design teams worked together to pivot the designs to fulfill the digital trade-show deadline.

The result was a solid, adaptable MVP. The flexible architecture allowed the PlayMonster team to utilize components in unconventional ways, enabling them to pivot as live testing showed opportunities for improvement.

Final presentations went “smooth as ice,” according to members of PlayMonster's sales team, and some key buyers stayed engaged with the call for twice as long as projected.

Maturity

With a successful MVP launch, real-world feedback, and their own hands-on experience, the PlayMonster team has their eye on further development to take their new tool forward for future online trade-shows.

PlayMonster’s internal team designed a visually intense “front door,” that was then animated into an infinite loop by Highland for a mesmerizing first impression.

Dashboard view of Statamic3's Collections Pages, which displays PlayMonster's Page Titles, Slugs, and Status.

The system uses Statamic V3, which was chosen for it’s clean development architecture and easy-to-use control panel.

Quarantine MVP

Though this is the first system of its kind, the combined PlayMonster and Highland teams were able to concept, design, and build a brand-new digital trade-floor showroom in less than two months.

Research For Design

While formal research was not part of the engagement, research is built into all practices at Highland to some level. In this case, user interviews and exploration proved key in unlocking the fast and efficient development of a differentiated application.

“The buyer was impressed with every element—from the product, to the package, to the marketing to the videos and the showroom that helped us bring it all together. So much so they stayed on the line...bumping whoever came after us!”
Brand Manager
PlayMonster