Road to Kickstarter #02: A New Mentor Approaches…
We hope this week has treated you weIl! As we write this we’re overflowing with excitement and gratitude for this project. This week we’re conceptualizing the first edition of what will soon become our first prototype, and that comes with doing everything we can on the community side to listen to everything yew the heroes want to see.
Meet Professor Mentor! Every Hero’s Journal storyline features a version of our Mentor character - the short, sagely fellow with pointy ears and impressive facial hair. He’s kind of our mascot in a way. We wanted the Mentor of the Hero’s Planner to be just as unique as the planner itself, so Professor Mentor was born! She’s a genius scientist at the forefront of multidimensional research. Every month you’ll get a peek into her lab and how she’s dealing with the artifacts that Yew sends back from the strange new worlds they visit. One of the first things Yew sends back to the lab is a dinosaur egg, which, of course, hatches. Hijinks ensue!
One of my goals when designing characters for the Hero’s Journal is to keep them gender neutral so that the hero using the product can identify them however they want. But a handful are inherently gendered, the Mentor being one of them. The Hero’s Planner gives us a chance to break the pattern of male-identifying Mentors and I’m really excited about that. It's been a real boys club of wise old men up to this point. About time we get a smart old lady in the mix!
This week on the product side: I thought I would share the philosophy behind our approach to designing this planner (and all-out products). We ask these three questions:
1) Is it functional? This can be deceptive. As a brand who loves to maximize the space on every page, it’s easy to end up making something that’s more flash than function. Cute art, characters, and lore aside—the thing must stand on it’s own. We want the story to be the icing on what is already a very functional cake. That said, if it’s all function it loses it’s flavor, which is why we consider #2.
2) What’s the Story? We inject story into everything we do. Through art, imagery and even the way we name things. This is our bread and butter. Luckily we are all nerds who love to get lost in the little details that differentiate good products from great ones. Getting heroes to say the “they thought of everything” reaction is what we strive for. Planners hold the stories of our lives, and this planner will be the perfect place for yours.
3) Does it make me feel like a hero? This is admittedly the most “woo woo” of the questions but it is nonetheless essential. After all is said and done, our products must instill a feeling of heroism. If at any point we don’t feel that magic spark, we go back to the drawing board. Picking up the planner, writing, coloring, carrying it, etc. All of it must evoke the feeling of being a hero. We want you to love it because people use the things they love. It’s our mission that everyone become the hero in their story, so this is perhaps the most important filter in our design progress.
Recently, the team gathered with a group of Heroes to get feedback on the current iteration of the planner pages. The first thing I want to mention is that the feedback was invaluable. Listening to Heroes talk about how they use this product will be what takes this from being the coolest planner someone has ever seen to a truly life changing tool.
From an operations perspective, there are a couple topics that repeatedly arise that create interesting problems to solve. Probably the biggest design decision that we have to make as it pertains to the planner is whether or not it will be dated. If you are familiar with The Hero’s Journal, one of the most pertinent points is that it's not dated. Planners, however, have an inherent datedness to them. So, as we discuss production and creating enough product to satiate the demand from Heroes, we have to discuss the viability of creating both a dated and undated version.
There is a lot of time before we hit go on the Kickstarter, but deciding on multiple variations of the planner will have immense impact as we move towards the Kickstarter.
For now the question remains, Dated, Undated, or Both?
TheHerosGuild.co continues to gain traction with almost 40 new heroes joining the party this month alone. While the Guild works together to explore the mysteries of Istoriatlantis (one of Gertrude’s 12 monthly planner settings), internally we’re toiling away at the next round of planner layout changes. In addition to running polls in The Guild Hall to get the community's thoughts, as Kyle mentioned above we’ve also been conducting focus group calls exclusive to Hero’s Guild members. No one can help settle internal product debates faster than the heroes who are questing with those products every day, afterall.
In the most recent focus group call, we invited 10 Guildmembers to join us in a Google Meet and share their focused feedback regarding planner spread layouts, and new features/utilities they most want added to the format. The feedback was invaluable, and we’re feeling confident now that we’re on the right track with the next version of the layout. Did I mention we also spilled some beans? [hush emoji]
If you want to be part of the next focus group call and help shape the future direction of what this planner will become, consider donning your armor and subscribing to The Hero’s Guild.