The Sims Dashboard UX

Design Challenge: Design an online dashboard for a PC game

In 2008, the idea of having a web-connected dashboard for a PC game was brand-new. I jumped at the idea, and helped figure out what to show, to whom, and how to balance user needs vs. commerce.

Step 1: Requirements, Research, Ideation

I designed this project in tandem with the Sims 3 website and store. I approached this design problem as a “dashboard” for the larger projects. The dashboard launched whether online or offline, and whether a member of the site or not. Because of these different scenarios, I began by drawing user flows, then progressed to sketching and wireframing.

Step 2: Define User Flow, Identify Key Screens

The complicated nature of the dashboard required me to create three different flows. An Internet-connected, logged-in user would see different content than a connected logged-out user. We also had to ensure the game worked for players who did not connect to the Web.

Step 3: Create a User-Centric Experience

The visual design of the launcher mirrored the website and store. UX conventions introduced on the website were carried over here, including thumbnails, image previews, buttons, and links. At this stage I created and tested several HTML prototypes.

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Offline Version

I also designed offline versions of the launcher. These were primarily marketing pieces that recommended connecting to the Internet and becoming part of the community.

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Step 4: Prototype & Usability Testing

We delivered the dashboard months before The Sims 3 game launched, so it could be tested along with the game. The online content areas were easy to edit and rearrange, and allowed us to spotlight timely features.

Step 5: Launch & Feature Support

This connected dashboard was the first of its kind for Electronic Arts. Our work became the benchmark for the company, and the Internet-connected launcher became a standard design pattern for subsequent games.