4Kids was the official American licensee for Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cabbage Patch Kids, Sonic the Hedgehog, G.I. Joe, Kirby, and dozens of other popular children’s franchises. Despite the brands, and a Saturday Morning block on the nationwide Fox network, the company’s site (foxbox.tv) was static and insignificant; less than 100,000 unique visitors, monthly.
Though my role was “simply” a front end designer, this was my evolution into the world of Product; plotting out sections and evolutions of the site. Through Photoshop mockups, I began plotting a site structure that I would want to see, taking inspiration from competitors (Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon) and polling the audience for ideas; early user-testing. I created a world for each intellectual property; promoting the general plot, starring characters, and weekly episode updates, then applying this template to each property. I then umbrella’d the minisites under a universal homepage, collecting each property through the unified FoxBox brand. The result was a very fan-friendly, interactive site, almost entirely dedicated to the user’s experience. Foxbox.tv now caught millions of eyeballs, with regular traffic spiking during the on-air hours, and rising on a weekly basis.
In time, the company re-branded from FoxBox to 4Kids. With the website’s rising prominence, Internet was now recognized in weekly meetings among VPs and stakeholders. I expanded the department from 2 to 8, driving several new directives: design / branding, monetization, video, and new promotional elements. Designs were based on audience research, following site metrics and feedback. I pushed widget-themed design, which made content easy to swap and update, and utilizing the homepage as a proper portal.
By the end of my second year, I managed all frontend as department Director, generating 1.5 billion annual ad impressions for our sales department – 30,000 times more than before I started – resulting in a 2 million dollar annual revenue stream. Nielsen ranked 4Kids in the global top 10 of all kid-sites. I streamlined all website policies, holding regular meetings with other department heads to plot web strategies for each respective property. The sites were updated in a structured format, with requests, individual timetables, and internal budgets allocated appropriately. When new COPPA rules were instituted, I was elected as part of a government-based task force to establish legal standards.
As the company began a final evolution in a sale to Konami and other partners, I helped structure a final template design.