The Walt Disney Co.

Disney Style is a home launcher with interactive Disney artwork.




Design Management


March-July 2015


John Yamamoto (Creative Director)

Aiko Saito (Producer)

The Project

The Disney Interactive Group (DIG) produces experiences for Japan’s mobile services. DIG strives to provide omotenashi, or Japanese-style hospitality, in all of their services. Part of Disney Japan’s success is attributed to the careful user targeting of the YAF (Young Adult Females) group.

I worked closely with the creative director to understand the high level product goals, and with producers to iterate over my proposed user flows and wireframes. I used After Effects to do some interaction design studies (that you can check out here, here and here) as well as built a web-based prototype.


The Product

Our final product consisted of a set of full panel utility widgets commissioned by Disney and produced by popular Japanese artists. New sets of panels, or bundles, are released every season to keep the product fresh and exciting.

On the surface level, each panel has a single function, such as telling time or displaying the current temperature. On a deeper level, a user could access related functions via long tap. For example, long tapping on the date widget allows the user to view their calendar and add an event.

To place emphasis on the artwork, all other links were neatly tucked into the centrally placed Mickey Home button. From the Mickey Home button, areas such as the application drawer, phone dialer and native browser could be accessed.

Hover over (or tap on mobile) the below images to see the corresponding animations:


The Big Picture

We wanted to build an immersive Disney mobile experience and another stand-alone Disney themed application wasn’t enough. By building a home launcher, we could completely reconfigure how a user interacts with his or her device. This was the perfect platform for us to achieve our three goals:

  1. Provide omotenashi, or Japanese-styled service
  2. Allow deep visual customization
  3. Provide world class Disney entertainment


Ideate, Iterate, Repeat

The Disney Style Home Launcher was a large initiative, so iteration was a must. While we had a general idea and direction of our home launcher, nothing was set in stone and the world was our oyster. To get started, I put all my ideas on the table— no matter how unconventional. The important thing was to get everyone thinking so we could start to understand the constraints. My ideas ranged from a home page geared towards the social media savvy YAF, to a minefield of easter eggs waiting to be found depending on the application that is open. For ideas that seemed promising, I mocked up a high level flow to understand how an idea could play out.

After a couple rounds of back and forth between sketches and digital flows, our team was caught between taking a more entertainment focused route and a more functional route. The former really allowed us to sell the Disney brand but wasn’t very useful, and the latter was useful but didn’t provide the omotenashi experience that was key to all of our services. In order to have both we had to compromise: we needed to simplify our feature set and carefully select our art so that it didn’t detract from the usability.

User Testing

Thanks for the Feedback

Before the release of our product, we outsourced a company to help us run our user tests. While we were prepared for users to stumble a bit on our new product, we were surprised to find out that our users were completely baffled by these new full screen widgets. Asking why, we identified that most of our issues could be attributed to the fact that our combination of artwork and UI made it difficult for users to identify what was and was not a tap target, not to mention, the tap targets took on a form different from what they were used to.

To solve this issue we decided to do two things:

  1. Create a bundle creation guide
  2. By doing so, we could designate definitive tap targets, making it easier on our users and keeping the UI from feeling too cluttered. You can check out the bundle creation guide here.

  3. Onboard our users
  4. Rather than throwing our users into unfamiliar territory, optional informational slides and a walkthrough would let them know what to expect when using the application.


Product in the Wild

The Disney Style Home Launcher is an ongoing product on the Disney on Softbank platform. With seasonal releases of the widget artwork bundles, the product is largely popular and successful with our YAF target group. The product is also actively being marketed by Softbank as well as Disney Japan. A promotional web movie released March 18, 2016 by Softbank advertising the mobile service garnered over 1,200,000 views.

You can check out some of Disney Style's promotional videos here: Introduction and Neon Groove