McDonald’s Happy Meal Toy – a lesson in First User Experience

As countless parents before me, I order a Happy Meal every time I go to McDonald’s regardless of the mood I am in. Some of the toys do bring out the kid in me and I rip open the packaging and play with the toy before presenting it to my daughter.

Every time I look at the plastic pack decorated with a few wordless illustrations and warning messages in a dozen languages, I hear it say “the toy may be for you, but this is really for us. For the warning messages are torn and thrown away, but not before letting the manufacturer off the hook if something goes wrong.

Yet every time my daughter starts to play with the toy, I get a question or two about how it works and we both sit staring at the enthusiastically torn plastic pack and try to unravel the mystery of the instructional illustrations.


Truth be told, Most of the toys are self explanatory. And the payoff is so attractive that there is little chance of someone grumbling about the illustrations being less than informative. In fact, most of the times the instructions are looked at after the toy has been tinkered with.

Yet not everything that is sold (product as well as service) is as attractive and welcoming as the seemingly free McDee toy. Most of the online instructions about how to use a certain service, payment system or  banking application think that their first user experience, their welcome screens, their help are going to be overlooked anyways because their customers are dying to get their hands on their offering. This belief prevents any attention or care going into crafting such screens and messages.

Unlike the McDee toy, many offerings have a price tag, a need for the customer’s commitment, a decision in their favour among the competing offerings. Perhaps that is the reason why Fisher Price puts a well designed instruction card inside every toy box.

I sincerely hope that fierce competition eventually will force businesses to pay more attention to their first user experiences. All they have to do is start thinking about themselves as Fisher price and not McDonald’s, who incidentally, are not in the toy business anyway.