The Times Spelling Bee

Multi-platform spelling games for young players in training.

Montage showing a league table on desktop and the iOS mobile app.

Worked for

id media


The Times

Project length

Ongoing between 2008 and 2010

End date

September 2010

Influenced by the hugely popular ‘spelling bees’ performed in the United States, The Times decided to run their own contest for school children across the UK aged between 9 and 11 years old.

Our team created an online space where competitors could log in to their own account, play a bunch of spelling games with varying difficulty, win awards and trophies for reaching certain milestones, and also track their progress. All of this to help train them for the real competition later on in the year.

Desktop site showing the 'Family Battle' league table.
A leaderboard for players to challenge close family and friends. This was one part of a handful of additional projects with the goal of preparing the player for the actual competition.

Year 1 was a huge success and garnered support and funding from Microsoft for the second year. To reflect this, I led the design and branding of a range of new mini games called ‘Brain Buzz’ created for 4 to 8 year olds. I also worked on a new feature for the core game where players could actively compete with friends and family and track wins and losses on a leader board.

Secondary branding for the 'Brain Buzz' category of games. Secondary branding for the 'Mini Bees' category of games.
Sub-brands – sponsored by Microsoft — for a suite of games aimed at a younger audience (around 5 to 8 years old).

Finally in year 3, I worked with a senior designer in creating the user experience and UI for iOS and Windows Phone versions of the games. These were both launched with high acclaim and even got placed under New and Noteworthy in the Education category on the App Store.

Various screenshots showing the iOS game. Various screenshots showing the iOS game.
iOS mobile apps designed for players on the move.