Greg Walsh


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Nickelodeon Co-Design


Nickelodeon approached the University of Maryland's Kidsteam to explore new ways for children to interact with technology in relationship to their properties. The work focused on sites within their portfolio that they deemed to be underperforming due to poor interaction design. Over time, the user research work transitioned from evaluative and prescriptive to open-ended and generative for future projects. This culminated in informing the Emmy-winning Nickelodeon iPad App and creating the Do Not Touch Button.

Design Process

This project relied heavily on co-design as a form of user research. The group was made up of children between the ages of 7 and 11, interaction design researchers, and Nickelodeon team members. During these design sessions, the team was presented with design prompts that addressed concerns and directions Nickelodeon wanted to pursue. The groups generated low-fidelity prototypes as well as provided evaluative feedback through co-design over multiple design sessions.

After each design session, I worked with select members of the Nickelodeon team to analyze the artifacts of the co-design sessions. We employed iterative coding, text analysis, and affinity diagrams to produce reports that succinctly outlined evidence-based design directions. These reports were used by management and outside design firms to modify and create new experiences for children.


The most interesting parts of this project was the creation of the Do Not Touch Button by two very angry little girls. An outside designer was brought in to work with the children and did a very poor job of listening and respecting the end-users' (kids') thoughts and opinions. In response to not be listened to, the children emphatically created a button that when pressed, did something bad to the person who pressed it assuming it was the outside designer. Through discussion and idea elaboration, we settled on the button would do something in a fun and silly way. This action resonated so well with Nickelodeon, they eventually incorporated it into their award-winning iPad app. The 2013 Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media - User Experience and Visual Design mentioned the Do Not Touch Button as one of the reasons for its win. Nickelodeon has continued using this concept most recently in an app simply entitled Do Not Touch.


co-design research lead

Methods Used

co-design, iterative prototyping, user testing, affinity diagramming, text analysis

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