Fanimals is a New Zealand kids TV show for fans of animals - the show is led by Jess and Vet Stacey and their animal family and runs weekdays across one of NZ’s main TV channels. Created by the iconic Whitebait Media, the production company behind What Now, this show is another beautiful, kid-first, creative show for Kiwi kids.

Problem Solved

The Brief:

The show is all about the relationships between children and animals, and the Fanimals team wanted to enhance that epic message a step further by creating an accessible digital platform for the viewers. The premise of the app is to be part of the Fanimals Family, by allowing kids through Aotearoa to interact with the Fanimals team, and to share images and stories of their own pet experiences that can be used on the TV show.

Who better to create this fun app than a team of Fanimals - us!

A companion app for kids and their furry companions

The platform allows children throughout New Zealand to interact directly with the show through a range of fun and engaging features. Here’s how we made this magic happen:

We built three apps, web, iOS and Android, as ideal companions to the TV show (for ease, we just refer to them all as “these apps” - ain't nobody got time to rattle off that list every sentence). These apps allow the viewers to participate in a large number of different activities which connect with the TV show; the apps function as a companion while the show is live, and then keep the viewer engaged during weekends / off-air time.

The key part of the app for the production team was that it provided a stream of user-generated, high quality, content for the daily TV show to use. The better the app functioned and the simpler it was to submit images, text and video, the more content there was to be used on the show.

It was important to us to ensure that the apps were fun and simple enough for a child to use (primarily 7 - 12 year olds) and that they were also engaging enough that kids would want to continue to use them each day. User experience was therefore a huge part of the creation of these apps - we highly recommend creation through the lens of a child, as well as user testing the app at all different stages. The blunt (savage!) honesty made us create a better app - thanks, kids.

Let’s get Technical

Because the app stores and uses the necessary data that children provide (like the name of their favourite pet rocks, and the phone number of their caregiver), we put a huge focus on the security of their data. We achieved high security by adhering to industry standards and following the best practices of the tooling we use, such as Google authentication and security rules.

  • To keep the kids interested in the apps, it needed to be simple and appeal to their digital-native minds. To achieve this, we used simple but gorgeous design in the Fanimals theme, animations and digital effects. The different spaces are accessible by easily clickable and identifiable icons making navigation a breeze.
  • The interface was also very customisable by the show producers, allowing them to show off new competitions, match the TV show and much more.
  • The show content changed regularly, so the companion apps needed to be able to change with the show demands. We achieved this through a straightforward but powerful administration portal, which allowed the customisation of most of the apps looks, and content. This allowed the producers to keep content up to date and to reflect the current TV episode.
  • Being a TV show being on air at a certain time daily, this posed a challenge in the numbers of people using the apps simultaneously every day - so, we chose to solve this problem by using Google's highly scalable backend service, Firebase.

Fun features

  • The competitions allow the kids to win cool prizes for them and their pets, and importantly was the key driver towards the website, and into interacting in the other digital spaces.
  • The Pet Passport is an area where users can keep track of all of their pets (real, animated or imaginary), upload pictures of them and write about them.
  • Eye Spy saw multi-cam live streams of pets from the TV show, so the viewers could see the animals at any time - this included guinea-pigs, chickens & all the action from the tropical fish-tank.

Don’t you just want to watch the show now?!

(One of) the apps: