Pottermore

Interaction Design, Experience Strategy

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Design Brief

Pottermore is the digital publishing, e-commerce and entertainment platform from J. K. Rowling. I had to provide creative direction for each "moment" in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, detailing user interactions and explore rewarding mechanisms to sustain platform engagement.

Copy of the book I used during the process

My copy of The Chamber of Secrets used during the process

Design Strategy

Full immersion into the Harry Potter fiction allowed me to empathise with a committed (and unforgiving!) audience. Chamber of Secrets is set in 1992/93, so a huge amount of effort went into researching style and culture from that period of time to really bring the user into the story. Collaborative workshops with the client streamlined the process, and maximised creativity.

Production

I created a total of 42 creative briefs detailing all aspects of the "moments" for the illustration teams. These briefs obsessively detailed all interactions, scenes and contexts - providing strong direction for the illustration and development teams during the production of Chamber of Secrets.

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Initial workshop sketch and annotated changes

Interaction Design

The brief, stakeholder ambition, and expectation of the fans offered many opportunities to develop interaction mechanics throughout Pottermore, including mini-games, puzzles and rewards.

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One example of an interaction pattern developed for the platform

Easter Eggs

Harry Potter is a global phenomenon, with some of the most committed fans of any franchise. One of the biggest challenges was finding references to reward hardcore fans. Below are some examples of easter eggs briefed to production teams.

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Fans of the fiction will realise that the hairpin allows them to unlock the cupboard in a previous "moment" to reveal a surprise

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Research took place across ALL books to find the colours of Gilderoy Lockhart's garments, referenced in the framed photos

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One for my family's clan; I snuck the MacFarlane clan tartan on the tin of Scottish shortbread sat on the desk

Outcomes

Since its launch in April 2012, Pottermore has been a global success. It has been referred to as publishing's "Radiohead moment" (Wired). At the end of 2012 there were over 8 million registered users, 30 billion page views, 100 million games played, and 30,000 hand crafted drawings and paintings submitted by users. The fan community continued its rapid growth, with more than 13 million platform comments, more than 680,000 twitter followers and 50,000 fan generated YouTube videos.

"The way the teams at @TH_NK and @atomhawk brought these books to life is nothing short of amazing. It's beautiful. #Pottermore"

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The Owl

@PottermoreNews7

"So, the first 4 chapters of Chamber of Secrets is so cool! It's really different from the first book!!"

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Manda Snape

@MandaSnape

Awards

The Bookseller awarded Pottermore digital strategy of the year in 2013 for "phenomenal commercial results achieved through exclusive e-book sales and a clear strategy to deliver a fully immersive experience." Pottermore was also listed as one of the best 50 websites of 2012 by Time Magazine, and was a 2012 Webby Honouree in the Celebrity / Fan category.

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Related work

Get in touch for a chin wag

Whether you are just looking to discuss a project, any opportunities, help starting out in UX, or just looking for a bit more information - get in touch and I’ll be sure to get back to you

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andrew.r.millar@gmail.com
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+44 (0) 7812 1674 76
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@Andy_Millar
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Header illustration