PlanetTeach is a new and exciting way for primary school-aged kids to learn Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar (SPaG), both at school and at home. A pioneering game within the world of EdTech, it encourages intuitive learning through accessible games, played with classmates.
The project started off as a hackathon when PlanetTeach approached Gravitywell in Spring 2019, and was subsequently developed into the fully fledged resource it is today.
We built PlanetTeach using a serverless framework, making use of AWS AppSync to provide a GraphQL API which we connected to Lambda functions to perform some of the more complex logic. The frontend is developed in React.
When it came to the design of PlanetTeach, we had to strike an interesting balance between form (a fun and engaging game) and function (an educational tool for children).
The game itself is rewarding and fast-paced, combined with a fun brand and immersive illustration. With the fun taken care of, we turned our attention to the design of the user interface (UI). We had to ensure it met high web standards for contrast, legibility and usability as we were designing an educational platform for children of various experience and abilities.
One way we did this was to use a typeface designed for children. It’s highly legible, follows the same letterforms children are taught in school and has a personal feel to it. No, not Comic Sans, but Gill Sans Infant — an adaptation of the classic Gill Sans, designed specifically for educational purposes.
Multi-player gaming — 30+ students connected in real-time to the platform, with a huge variety of devices — was a considerable challenge. But the effort was worth it - the classroom play-testing sessions were a big hit with the students.
The children also loved the customisable rockets. It's fun and easy to design your own unique rocket so your friends can spot you as you pass on the way to the moon!
Elsewhere, we ensured that the UI was extremely intuitive, leaving nothing to chance as children needed to feel at home with the controls, understand questions and how to answer them immediately. Links and buttons are obviously clickable, colours are contrasting and typography has a clear hierarchy.
We developed an illustration and design style that would appeal to both the younger and older primary age range. For ease, we wanted a flat vector-friendly design — bearing in mind that we’d need to be able to easily create new assets for rocket customisation and badges. The style was born from the tonal palettes found in indie games, vintage and graphic space posters, as well as scenes from older sci-fi films.