A Teen-Eyed View of Moneyopolis
Web Informant #159, 21 June 1999
Certainly one of the biggest success stories of the web has
been the growing number of financial sites. The news this
past month about Merrill Lynch finally taking the dive into
online trading was expected, given that all of their
competitors offer this.
But one of the things I like about covering the web is the
many lesser-known stories. A friend of mine pointed me
towards a site his colleagues at Ernst and Young have
developed, called Moneyopolis.com. It is a site designed to
teach young teens about money, general finance issues, and
the like while they play a game hosted on the site.
The teen audience is an important one. Jupiter
Communications predicts that the number of online teens will
double in three years, to more than 16 million users. And
according to other studies, almost half of them use their
home computers to access the Internet, which is about double
the general adult population.
I asked two local teens (the first one is in high school,
the second one is in middle school) to take a look at the
site and write reviews. Here are their thoughts, pro and
I liked Moneyopolis
by Christina Kim
I found the site to be very interesting and educational at
the same time. It is designed for a better understanding of
money, and to help students to set up a financial plan.
The instructions to the game are very easy to understand and
the included examples will help students easily understand
basic concepts. For example, I liked how the game showed
three same choices for three different questions, so
students can decide the right answer by comparing each
choices with questions -- rather than throw them many
different choices, which would be more confusing. Also, the
explanations to some new vocabularies were very good - such
as assets and liabilities. Overall, the designers of this
site put a lot of effort to make it as comprehensible as
This site deals not only with math, but also social studies
as well as some real-life experiences, which is necessary in
math too. In high school math there will be a lot of
questions related to logarithms and exponents and these
usually deal with real-life questions. This site will be a
very good way of starting many new experiences for students.
However, the very front page of the site bothered me a
little. I can see that the page used three separate frames
(up, middle part and the bottom.) The frame at the top is a
little too big, and takes up too much space, which makes
viewers have to scroll more when viewing the middle part -
which is the REAL content. The index page graphics are too
big (file size wise) and take too long to load. Pastel
colors are always good, because they are less stressful to
eyes, but light green was a poor choice. Also, yellow, light
green and blue really do not match. How about using one
tones of color, and adjust between them? If you want to use
blue color, use light blue, blue, navy blue, or purple.
Also, at the right column of the middle section, the icons
are nice and noticeable, but there is some more extra space
at the very right part of the page, which should be removed.
Otherwise, background graphics are very light and look nice.
After I registered, I played the game and had some fun.
However, when I clicked to see my score card, it did not
show any of the information I put it. The chart was blank. I
think that should be checked too. Overall, I think kids will
I hated Moneyopolis
by Perri Mogul
Moneyopolis! Do you think you would be interested in this
site if you were fourteen years old? I wasn't, but I gave it
a chance anyway. And personally, I wasn't thrilled.
To start, I could not get the calculator to work through the
America Online browser. My dad figured out that we had to
switch to Internet Explorer for the calculator to work
correctly. Even with Internet Explorer, every time I figured
out a problem on the calculator, it would go away when I
clicked back to the question. This was annoying because if I
forgot the answer, I would have to calculate it all over
My first thought was, "This is directed at young teenagers,
it looks more like it's for my six year old sister." The
colors and illustrations definitely turned me off. They were
so cartoon-like that I thought I was four again.
I didn't like that I was asked to give the name of my town,
state, school, and teacher. I did not feel comfortable
giving this information to a web site that I knew almost
nothing about when I was asked to fill this part out.
The definition questions were way too easy for two reasons:
the answer was in the same order as the definitions and in
the same order as the choices. And if you were to answer the
questions wrong, you would still get to answer the question
until it is correct. And don't worry about losing points,
because it doesn't take any away. Nothing is fun without a
The math challenges and bonus questions are also too easy.
At least for these questions, you only get three chances.
But if you were to run out of chances on the math challenges
you have to start over. And the dumbest part is that it
gives you the same exact questions as the first time around!
The jobs that you get to choose from are not very
interesting. I wasn't too excited to pick one! I mean, who
wants to be a window washer? Not me, that's for sure! Some
of the questions, such as the Moneyopolis Gazette, had too
much useless information that just made it boring to read. I
wanted to quit a lot of times!
I could not answer the math challenge questions that came
after the Gazette Questions. First, it said to "use the
information in the table above". However, when I looked
"above" there was no table. And you couldn't even scroll up
so I had no idea what they were talking about. And, when I
typed in a guess I got some "Microsoft VBScript compilation
At this point, I was fed up. I stopped playing and exited
the site. I was not at all thrilled with this site and I
suggest to the makers of it to either change it so that it
is meant for younger children or just simply START FROM
When I asked these two girls to write a review, I had no
idea what I was getting into. I think both have good points
of view, and both point out weaknesses of the site design in
ways that I hope the designers will take into consideration.
It shows you that it helps to consider your audience
carefully, especially one as opinionated and diverse as
But more importantly, Perri and Christina show you that it
doesn't take a high-priced focus group to figure out what
works and what doesn't with your average web site. It just
takes clear thinking by smart people, some of whom can be
under 18 years old. Thanks girls for the insights.
Introducing our new managing editor
These essays have been a labor of love for many years, and
it is time to start treating them a bit more professionally.
Accordingly, I have hired Jackie Gavron (firstname.lastname@example.org)
as managing editor. Jackie and I first met when I had to do
a mammoth feature for her at Windows Sources magazine and
have since become good friends. She is one of the best
editors I have worked for, and it is a pleasure to continue
that relationship. She is V.P. Content Manager at Citibank.
Copyright © 1999, 2000 media.org
Web Informant copyright 1999 by David Strom, Inc., reprinted by permission
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