Achieving success as a board game inventor

The Inventors Workshop – uniting the architects of the next generation of play

When it comes to achieving success as a board game inventor, I’m told that coming up with the idea is the ‘easy’ bit. The hard bit is turning that idea into a physical product and then getting that product to market.

That’s why the team behind ToyNews launched the Inventors Workshop in 2014 – so that board game and toy inventors could be fast tracked to meet the industry experts who can help them take their ideas from sketch to store.

The event returns this year on 22nd September at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire and features a two-track half-day conference for fledgling and experienced inventors, followed by potentially life-changing One2One pitching opportunities with major manufacturers.

This year’s conference programme covers everything from funding and safety, to IP law, an insight into what retailers are looking for, how to use tech in toys and tips on how to pitch.

A panel session – How We Made It – features established toy and board game designers including Jenga’s Leslie Scott, Hasbro’s Dougal Grimes, Lego’s Samuel Thomas Johnson, the creator of Crazy Cart Ali Kermani and Gillian Logan, the inventor of Skinny Sketcher. They will share their stories, experiences and provide budding designers with valuable insight and inspiration into what it takes to become a successful inventor.

Panellist Gillian Logan was a delegate at last year’s event and was snapped up by a manufacturer on the day. Her Skinny Sketchers were showcased at Toy Fair in January and are soon to be available at retail.

The One2One sessions are pre-organised face-to-face meetings between the inventors and the toy companies. They allow designers to pitch their ideas to industry execs with the hope of getting their product started on the road to retail.

This year, Hasbro, Vivid, Flair, Cartamunid, Character, Sambro, Worlds Apart and Ooba are already confirmed for the One2Ones. More will be announced soon.

Delegate prices for the Inventors Workshop have been kept intentionally low to make it affordable for designers to attend. And, until 7 August, the early bird rate is just £99 per person for the day including lunch. To book your ticket, please visit

Tips: Choosing fonts for your website

In this week’s guest blog post, Susie Tobias of Wise Genius discusses how best to choose the right font for your website. Susie runs a successful web design company and has experience of buidling sites for a variety of different companies.

The content of your website is the key to its success. How your content actually looks is vital to creating a positive impression. In order that visitors to your site will absorb that content, you need to decide what feelings you want to evoke in your target audience and what kind of voice you want the text to have. This is where choosing the right font comes in. The following advice will hopefully help make this decision easier for you.

Define your tone

The most important task to undertake before you begin choosing fonts for your website is to define the overall tone of voice you want the content to convey. This will be informed by your target market, the purpose of the website, and the message you want to get across. Is it fun, informal and aimed to a young audience, or do you want to strike a more serious and formal tone?


How legible your content is, is crucial to engaging your visitors. Text that is hard to read could scare your audience away. A good test of legibility is to read the content in your chosen font yourself. Other aids to readability include line-height (aim to set this at 1.5 times the text size for body content), font-size and colour.

Serif or sans serif fonts?

There are two main typeface classifications to consider when selecting fonts for your website – serif and sans-serif. Whilst other classifications exist, it is these which provide the best choice in terms of legibility and availability.

Serif typefaces include extra strokes to embellish the letters, and are considered classic and timeless. On the web, they are generally better for use in headlines and headers than body text.

Sans-serif fonts do not have any adornment and give a contemporary, modern and cleaner feel to text. They look great on the web and are widely considered easier to read, especially at small sizes.

Safe for web use?

An important consideration when picking a web font – will it actually show up on my website? There are relatively few fonts that provide consistent results across different operating systems and browsers. These are known as web safe fonts, and include such favourites as Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, and Verdana.

While this may appear to severely restrict the variety of fonts available to you, there are an increasing number of ways to expand this selection. The most widely applied solution is the font-stack, whereby a number of fonts are listed in your website’s CSS (cascading style sheet) file in a hierarchy of preference to substitute if the visitors system does not have the font specified.

A more recent development is that of font embedding services, some of which are free. The Google Fonts Directory has a limited number of free fonts available for use on your web pages, whereas a service such as Typekit gives you access to a much wider variety for an annual fee.

Text size

Ideally, your body text should be sized between 10 and 12 pixels; 14 pixels will give you even better readability. You don’t want your readers squinting at the screen, so again, test whether you can read it clearly first.

Colour & contrast

In terms of the combination of font and background colour, it really is best to play it safe with black or dark grey text on a white background. It is hard to make anything else work for a large body of text, regardless of your font choice.

Experiment with Typetester

A great tool for helping you make your font choice is Typetester.  It allows you to add sample text and apply a whole range of options, including typeface, line-height (leading), alignment, colour and background colour to 3 columns in order to compare them side by side. This is a fantastic way to experiment with different fonts and see how they actually look on the screen.

No comic sans

No advice about choosing fonts for a website would be complete without this word to the wise – if you want to retain any shred of professionalism at all, do not use Comic Sans anywhere on your website. Ever! Check out Comic Sans Criminal for a history of the font and how to use it appropriately.

Trust your instincts

At the end of the day, trust your instincts. Sometimes a font just looks right without you being able to explain why. Go for it!


Further reading:

Guide to CSS Font Stacks: Techniques & Resources

Review of Popular Web Font Embedding Services

Choosing the Right Font: A Practical Guide to Typography on the Web

Crucial advice from an expert client

Natasha Courtenay-Smith

Natasha Courtenay-Smith is one of my longest-standing clients. She’s a former national newspaper journalist and founder of press and publicity agency, Talk to the Press, which specialises in helping people who want to sell their story and those caught up in a media storm. As well as being a client, Natasha is often a crucial sounding board for me – a well-respected journalist who knows a good story a mile off. In this guest post, Natasha shares her tips for getting the press interested in YOUR product or service.

Will the media be interested in your product?

By Natasha Courtenay-Smith, director of

When you have something to promote, it’s easy to think all you need to do is hire a PR or a media agent, and next thing you know, whatever it is you’re up to, or the item you are trying to sell, will be gracing the pages of every newspaper and magazine in the land.

Things aren’t quite so straightforward, and often I feel for PRs who have a difficult task of promoting a product that is boring, offers nothing new and quite simply, despite their enthusiasm, you know full well (as a journalist) will never get any coverage. Take for instance the PRs tasked with marketing incontinence pads or cough medicine. In all honesty, they have their work cut out.

Before you even begin to think about your PR campaign, you need to know exactly what makes your product different and newsworthy, and lines such as ‘I think it’s the best available’ just won’t cut it.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What’s the angle? It’s likely that the basic ‘New product’ angle is not good enough for most journalists. For example ‘new dating website launches’ is not interesting. There are already so many dating websites, why should anyone write about yours? However, the personal story (as long as it’s interesting and relevant) of the founder, or one of the clients, might propel your dating website into the news
  • Does it do, or offer, something new or better? Highlight these points as this is what will make your product stand out from whatever else is on the market, and perhaps provide the ‘newsy’ angle
  • Is there a celebrity connection? If so, push, push push that line. If not, send your product to as many celebrities you can think of who might find it useful and hope that they use it or recommend it
  • Do you have any statistics? Can you run a survey on your existing customers to create a news angle? You can ask them whatever you want, but the aim would be to create an angle for a story. For instance, we surveyed individuals wanting to sell their story to the press and created a press release about the ‘Top 10 reasons people sell their story’. If you have a breastfeeding product, run a survey to get a line like ‘Only 1 in 10 mums enjoy breastfeeding’ (or whatever your survey reveals). Remember you are looking for an angle that is topical and surprising that can be used to generate a news story

Talk to the Press has represented many individuals who have found themselves making headlines, including Ann Timson, who became known as ‘Supergran’ when she beat up a gang of robbers with her handbag, and Juliet Hill, whose daughter became the youngest person in the UK to have a gastric band. For more information visit

Enjoyed this post? You might like this one: PR – out of the mouths of babes and this one: PR advice from national press journalists