• Web Design & Build

Dear Zoo & Friends

236% increase in website users for this children's favourite

Brief

The main objective was to create a website that is frequently revisited and provides useful content for parents, resources for teachers and fun activities for children. We we're also tasked with establishing the Dear Zoo & Friends brand online, increasing PR opportunities, and targeting the pre-school market using SEO. 

Solution

Working closely with both the author and the amazing team at Macmillan, we agreed on building a website that focused on two core audiences: parents and children.  The website launched with two games that develop children's maths, memory and language skills, as well as free downloadable activity sheets, book videos, an area of EYFS teacher resources, and a books section that parents can browse by the age of their child.

What we did

  • Design
  • Website Build
  • Digital Marketing
  • Digital Strategy
309%

increase in pageviews

236%

increase of users

379%

increase in traffic from mobile users

Dear Zoo - Header image

Dear Zoo & Friends - a children's favourite

Rod Campbell is a trusted name in early learning and his books are loved by parents, teachers and children all over the world.

Dear Zoo is his most popular title with more than 5 million copies sold since publication. It was created in 1982 and has become firmly established as a classic children's picture book. The compelling story of a child who writes to the zoo to send them a pet has been enjoyed by millions of young children.

Dear Zoo - Screens img 1

Our objectives

The main objective was to create a website that better engaged with the target audience (parents and teachers) and provide a site that could be used by very young children, with their parents or teachers. Distinction recognised from the start that the Games area of the site was a key opportunity to engage with children and do so in an educational and engaging manner.

Dear Zoo - Screens img 2

Discovery and research

We started this project by hosting a discovery workshop to explore the creative and technical specifications for the new website.

Macmillan’s team worked with research agency Mumpanel, listening and responding to the thoughts and requests of parents. The research revealed the need for free activities and resources, both educational and fun.

Working closely with both the author and the amazing team at Macmillan, we agreed on building a cohesive website for children and parents that would fit this need.

Interactive games to engage children

To create a website that was both educational and fun, we developed two games for the initial launch of the site to develop children's maths, memory, and language skills:

  • Matching Pairs – this is a traditional ‘snap’ style card game that helps children’s memory skills and rewards the player with engaging animation and sound effects.
  • Noisy Farm – this game plays the sound of a farm animal and then prompts the player click or tap on the corresponding animal.

To cater for different ages, both games have multiple difficulty levels to allow the player to challenge themselves further.

Recognisable design and UX

The design is heavily influenced by the existing brand, which is hugely recognisable and trusted by parents and teachers. The key to the success of the project was ensuring a great user experience for all users, regardless of their device. Given the target audience, we anticipated a significant percentage of users would access the site on a mobile device, especially tablets. To allow seamless use, we created a fully responsive site, that would look great on any device.

Thanks to our work with Distinction we created a site that is used frequently by parents and teachers with children so that they can learn and play together. The new site has been very well-received, we’ve had great feedback and it perfectly reflects the original story created by Rod Campbell in 1982.

James Luscombe, Web Operations Director

The results

The result is an easy-to-navigate and brand-focused website, navigated by age and stage. With regular updates on what to read next as well as new resources for teachers, parents and children, it turns into a great platform for everyone. .

The feedback so far has been incredible! The new platform has been extremely well-received by visitors, highlighted by the following statistics:

  • In the first month since launch there was a 308.77% increase page views
  • 236.48% increase of users
  • 378.91% increase in traffic from mobile users

We’re delighted with the end result. By working so closely with Rod and the great team at Macmillan we’ve been able to effectively reflect the distinct look and feel of these classic children’s books.

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