Building a better monster: User research by LEGO designers

Building a better monster: User research by LEGO designers

I am a lifelong fan of LEGO© toys and games and of J.R.R. Tolkien. So when LEGO began to release The Lord of the Rings sets, I was delighted. I then came across this video about designing Shelob™ Attacks while reviewing the new sets:

A frame of the designer video showing Shelob's wheels

Shelob’s wheels from the “Designer Video: Shelob™ Attacks” (© 2012 The LEGO Group)

As a user experience researcher and designer, I enjoy learning about the design process fellow design professionals go through to come up with brilliant products. The designer shared the unique challenges in creating an organic shape like a spider. With such well-known source material, it might have been easy to assume that once Shelob looked right, the design was finished.

However, the LEGO design team did not stop there. They watched children playing with an early version of Shelob. About halfway through this video, the designer notes that they noticed that children would push the toy spider’s abdomen to the ground and not be able to slide her easily. To ensure that play would continue smoothly, they added tiny wheels on her abdomen. This subtle touch ensured that the great looking model would also be fun to play with.

This is a great example of how user research can turn a good design into a fantastic user experience.

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