Cartoon Dolls is a place where your favourite dolls come alive. There are lots of activities to do such as doll dress up, celebrity dress up, colouring pages, crafts etc. If you are a fan of dolls, you should visit the website.
This site is loud, flashy and interesting to the audience for which it is intended (I suspect they are pre-pubescent girls) but not instantly appealing to adults. The home page has lots of small graphics on it and some small animated graphics (the small graphics mean smaller file sizes when combining a lot of them) and the overall colours are black and blue. It’s a bit girly in the graphics but not overly so with the colours and the site is laid out in a three column structure with lots to look at and read.
The graphics are original (created by Dollz and Doll Makers of the World) and the site is targeted well towards pre-pubescent/teenage girls, with things to do, lots to read and some flash and glitter. The three column structure is suitable for the amount of information contained and advertising is suitable for the content. Clicking on any page from the main page brings up pages with different coloured backgrounds, more graphics and the activities to do. As a website intended for adults, all of this would fail acceptable website design standards; since it is intended for youngsters it has the perfect combination of busy text/graphics and lots of different colours and backgrounds.
I found the Doll Palace Navigator only came up on some of the pages. This means that although you can click the “back” button in your browser, navigation to pages might a bit confusing. The colours of blue and black might not be appealing to pre-pubescent girls, although black and blue add to the “gizmo” look about it like videogames, phones and smileys so this might mean I am in error in judging suitable colours for this market. The front page could use one larger and more elaborate graphic to “grab” attention, as there are quite a few cartoony looking sites to compete with out there.
Some interesting sections of the site include “Dress Up Games” (which involves creating dolls in certain fashions) and “Colouring Pages” and both are interactive and complex parts of the website. “Dress Ups” has a large selection of dress ups to pick from. Upon clicking on one of these, you are able to choose the entire outfit, body, pets, background and accessories for your doll and there are thousands of combinations possible. After you have created a doll, you can save it and access the html code for forums, MySpace sites etc. The sample doll I created for this review was pretty spiffy and exciting, even though I am well into my 20s (and female, incidently!)
“Colouring Pages” allows you to colour in pictures of dolls with a moderate colour picker. I couldn’t find a button to save my coloured image, so I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do much with the finished product except view it. Also, I went to colour in a face and it coloured in part of the hair, eyes and dress as well so the outlines need to be more clearly defined in some of the template drawings. The colour picker worked at a average speed and the Colouring Book of Dollz with the magic brush worked well and were interesting.
The Doll Palace is quite a large website with lots of activities and images and is well suited to its intended audience of pre-pubescent girls and possibly, older girls. In this review, I didn’t get the chance to explore all of it, but the parts I visited were interesting and good looking (if you like cartoony graphics). I felt the authors put in a ton of work and while they might be sighing with relief after all that creativity, they may be in for a bigger battle to attract audiences in future decades when the competition steps up a notch with 3D virtual worlds, messaging, personalisation and freebies taking over the web. However, since the doll activities are free, personalised and can be sent to your friends, the battle may well be half over.
fig 1. Doll Palace Navigator appears on some pages and not on others
fig 2. Screen Image of the interesting Dress Up Games
fig 3. Ooops! My doll’s hair and face are the same colour
fig 4. The fast-action magic brush tool in the Dollz Colouring Book
fig 5. My cute Dress Up doll