The new website has been created by Aardman, working with digital consultancy Distinction, and was commissioned by Macmillan Children’s Books.
The site is being released ahead of the 15th anniversary of the first Gruffalo book, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Scheffler, which is in 2014.
James Luscombe, head of web development for Pan Macmillan, says, ‘The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are all simultaneously one brand and three distinct brands, and we needed to represent this clearly for the best user experience.’
The site is intended as an ‘online home’ for Gruffalo fans. As well is information about the Gruffalo books, films and gifts, it also hosts the ‘Deep Dark Wood’, a collection of games based on Scheffler’s illustrations.
Aardman says, ‘Once entered, the Deep Dark Wood experience fills the screen, emulating a native app, and contains entertaining and age-appropriate activities.’
George Rowe, producer at Aardman, says, ‘It was really exciting for us to be able to work with such a well-loved character and Axel’s beautiful illustrations.
‘We really tried to give the interactive area the feeling of one of the books, letting kids find the animals hidden in this rich digital environment.’
Greg Bloor, creative director at Distinction, says, ‘We approached the website build using a tablet-first approach, since we anticipated that this would be the main device used to access the site.
‘Responsive design was used to ensure that all aspects of the site worked perfectly, from mobiles through to desktops. Given the very visual appearance, we had our work cut out making sure it was fast to load on all devices, but we managed it, and we’re really happy with the outcome.’
Consultancy Together created a brand style guide for the Gruffalo in 2009, ahead of the release of the Gruffalo film and the launch of a merchandising programme.