Creating products which respond to the user’s needs has become the de-facto standard approach for product design. In the attempt to create the best possible experience designers constantly search for new techniques that allow them to create better user experiences. One of the methods that recently became popular among many product designers is called gamification.
In this article, I’ll share a few tips on how this technique can be applied to web design.
What is Gamification?
When we hear a word “gamification” one of the first things that comes to our mind is game design. While gamification and game design have a few similarities, they aren’t directly related terms. Gamification is design technique that is based on employing game mechanics in a non-game context to enhance user flow and engagement. Done right, gamification can improve engagement and increase conversion.
How Does the UX Improve When Game Elements Are Involved
We often associate “gamification” with PBL (points, badges, and leaderboards). It’s relatively easy to assume that it’s possible to make user experience more exciting just by adding some sort of bonus points into it. But it’s a wrong assumption. Gamification isn’t about points; it’s about motivation. If people are motivated to do something, they’ll do more of it. People play games not because of points, but because they think that this experience is exciting and challenging.
Gamification In Web Design
Gamification can be used to create a path for your visitors—using this technique it’s possible to give your users clear goals and objectives while showing them where they’re headed. Website’s visitor will feel like the real player starting the personal journey of the product usage: an interaction will be a story where a visitor (“hero”) overcome obstacles (“challenges”) and expect to reach the goal (“receive a reward”). This will make the process of interaction with a website much more predictable.
Challenge and Reward
People love challenges. Challenges make us focus our efforts on results and prove that we can handle any problem we face. Remember the last time you bought something from IKEA, brought it home and spent a few hours assembling it. That’s a lot of fun of doing this.
Human nature always makes us take the challenges and prove that we can handle them.
Similar to this offline experience, a challenge in user flow can be a compelling game element that motivates people to take action. This technique can be used to encourage users to go through tasks that otherwise may seem boring (e.g., completing a user profile).
The percentage at the top left of PayPal’s account page continuously motivates users to add more details to their profiles
You can enhance an effect from a challenge by adding some kind of reward. When completing tasks on a site becomes rewarding users will be more motivated to face a challenge.
Producthunt asks users to complete a few tasks in exchange for being able to join in on the discussion.
Group quest is a technique similar to the multiplayer experience in video games. To win the game, all players should participate in it as a team. This experience unites people and makes them feel bigger than they really are.
Kickstarter is a great example that utilizes a lot of game design techniques. A countdown timer which creates a sense of urgency paired with last mile drive motivates visitors to act. But what’s most important, is that visitors can accomplish the crowdfunding quest only when an entire team act.
Kickstarter utilizes gamification for crowdfunding.
Step-by-step learning is a technique that helps you educate users on how to use your web service. All education program is divided into the number of steps (e.g. levels), and each next step becomes available only after users have completed the previous step.
This technique works perfectly for onboarding process. This game mechanic aims to make the process of first-time interaction with a product as easy and understandable as possible. When ProdPad thought about how to improve onboarding process, they come to the idea of gamified onboarding. ProdPad turned their onboarding experience into a journey; the user is getting an extension on the trial period each time they completed a task for onboarding (such as entering a product name or setting up specific information). In this way, ProdPad was able to efficiently get their users to explore all the features of their product and turn them into power users.
When it’s possible to visualize the entire journey, it becomes more understandable for users. They’ll be able to evaluate their effort and plan their time.
People are social creatures. What we do usually base on what other people think. This natural psychological property can be used in web experience.
Opower is a company that tries to help people lower their electricity bills. They found a great way to change people’s behavior—instead of showing abstract numbers, the company shows the best neighbor and the average neighbor. When people see such information they immediately think that they should be at least above the average.
Opower has encouraged millions of homes to reduce their energy use by using social comparison
Development and Accomplishment
This technique is based on the fact that users motivated when they feel that they are developing. This motivates users to level up, achieve mastery in some discipline.
One good example is Duolingo which gamified the learning process for their users and turned it into a fun, entertaining experience. Each lesson is presented as a challenge for a user. When users accomplish the task, Duolingo celebrates progress with users by rewarding them with a badge.
Of course, user experience at its core is about usability and simplicity, but there’s one ingredient that has a significant impact on user experience—delight.
The user experience doesn’t have to be entirely about ease-of-use, it should be also enjoyable. Using gamification in design it’s possible to make interaction with a product more fun and delightful. Properly incorporated gamification can significantly increase engagement and conversion.