Tabby Cat is a Chrome extension that replaces your tabs with randomly generated cats.
With Tabby Cat, each new tab features an animated cat with a silly name like "Stinky Dinosaur" or "Tiny Potato". Over time, the cats collect goodies that range in absurdity from fishbones to lawn flamingos to Raybans. Kids and adults alike use this extension, and analytics show the majority of use happens Monday through Friday from 9-5. Tabby Cat isn't a game, and it's certainly not a productivity app, so how has it caught on? To answer that, I'll start with some backstory.
If you browsed through the Chrome Web Store when I released Tabby Cat in January of 2016, the most popular apps would have been to-do lists, note apps, and integrations aimed at improving productivity.
In my world, productivity tools don't make me more productive. Between my smartphone, email, and chat, I don't have a shortage of things telling me what I should be doing. Adding more apps into my life only makes me feel pressure to be productive, which stresses me out, which makes it difficult for me to get anything done.
Feeling happy and relaxed, not pressured and stressed out, is the key to my most creative and productive self—so I made Tabby Cat.
You might say the idea behind Tabby Cat is counter-productive. Instead of showing you suggested sites that you might want to visit, news articles about what you should be learning, or to-do lists of what you should be doing, it gives you a cat with a silly name.
Today, Tabby Cat has over 200,000 active users. The success of Tabby Cat has shown me that all kinds of people—children, adults, professionals, and students—share the same appreciation of being delighted. Since launching Tabby Cat, I continue to build new features to keep everyone happy and engaged.
Tabby Cat is much more complex today than it was when it began. In addition to receiving a random cat with a random name, users can pet the cats (but some don't like being pet), collect goodies, find hidden kittens, stumble upon more rare cats, and share their favorite ones.
Analytics reveal that the majority of people use Tabby Cat during work and school.
While developing new features for Tabby Cat, I've been careful not to gamify it too much. My intent is for Tabby Cat to help Chrome users step out of their day-to-day grind to be delighted every now and then. Feedback like the reviews below show that I'm achieving what I set out to do.
Tabby Cat has been personally fulfilling for a number of reasons, but sentiments like these are what really keep me going. In a nutshell, this is why I'm a designer.