Gamification has emerged as among the most amazing trends in UX design in the last few years. Games play a huge role in spicing up our lives by motivating us, helping us learn, and most importantly, unwind after a long day at work. Over the years, we’ve applied the experience of the thrilling nature of games in enhancing our daily lives.
With the fast enhancement in technology, software designers are able to deliver projects that significantly respond to the needs of the users through a user-centered approach. The approach allows designers to constantly search and adopt the latest techniques in enhancing user experience and engagement. However, designers have to remember that users expect a simple and fun-to-use product when designing a product. Following this reason, the idea of introducing a “fun” element through UX design was born. Here we seek to understand more about gamification, what it is and how it can be used to enhance UX.
What Is Gamification?
Unlike what many people might think in the context of design, gamification and game design hardly relate. Unfortunately, however, it is common to see many people, especially those new in the software development industry, mistaking the two terms.
Gamification is a technique that allows designers to insert gameplay elements and mechanics in non-gaming settings such as mobile applications and websites. The gameplay elements improve user experience and engagement with the service or product. In this case, the designer may add a game element like a challenge to a product to encourage users to interact more with the website or mobile application. Adopting game-like interactions in a non-gaming environment helps make the users more passionate and engaged. For example, these elements may include a challenge to check in the website or application every day and be rewarded. Such elements motivate users and influence their behavior as “players” to perform the expected actions.
Gamification in UX design applies a user-centered approach and modern design to get rid of harmful practices. Consequently, UX designers are able to instill behaviors that improve end-users ‘ quality of life. Furthermore, gamification is not a monolithic or binary concept, which means it can be incorporated in levels depending on the user’s and product’s needs. Besides, gamification is not the main aim in UX design but a valuable tool that can enhance user engagement and experience.
Types of Game Elements for UX Enhancement
Gamification is a complex design technique that requires applying different game elements based on interactive UI mechanics. The technique does not target turning the product or service into a game fully but giving the product a game-like feel. Here are some of the game mechanics used in the improvement of UX design:
Challenges bring the natural appeal to any action or activity that human beings undertake. Thus, using a challenge in websites or mobile applications is among the most compelling game mechanics. In addition, a challenge motivates end-users to take the expected action, making it a valuable tool in UX enhancement. However, you can also add some rewards to improve the challenge effect and make people more motivated.
For example, productivity apps like Habitica offer challenges that allow players to compete with each other. This makes using the app fun and exciting, allowing you to gamify your life easily.
Stickers and Badges
In this case, users can be awarded stickers and badges when they complete the set challenges or manage to collect a given number of points. Most people are familiar with virtual rewards as they are often awarded in video games. Such rewards can be designed in different ways, which allows you a huge room for creative experimentations. Stickers will be more appreciated as people have loved them over the years. However, any of these virtual rewards can be a great source of motivation to end-users.
For example, Duolingo (a language learning app) uses badges to award users upon completion of a given number of skills, spending a certain amount of lingots and following friends.
Most games apply the points system to gauge the success of players in overcoming the challenges. With gamification, a product can incorporate the same idea to benefit both stakeholders and users. Users are able to estimate their engagement with the application or website while stakeholders can see their achievements. The best idea is to base the count of the points on the number of video views or check-ins.
For instance, Codecademy Go, an online platform where people visit to learn coding and software development, awards points upon completion of exercises.
The game element gives the user the feeling of a real player embarking on a personal journey of using the product. This element helps make the user’s interaction with the product simple and easily understandable. For instance, users can be introduced to the product’s features at the onboarding page to help them overcome the fear of making mistakes. As the journey continues, designers can apply the “scaffolding” method, which discloses features progressively. This allows users to gain more experience using the product while easily avoiding errors, which makes the product enjoyable.
Besides, this game element can be improved by introducing the progress feature. The feature may offer information on the user’s journey and progress to motivate them to continue using the product.
Introducing the element limiting users to completing a certain task within a given time brings great excitement in games. A gamified product can apply the same approach by ordering the users to complete a certain task within a day. The constraints motivate users to some extent, making them take action immediately and react faster.
It’s human nature for people to have the desire to be a leader in any challenge. Leaderboards make the set challenges more exciting for users joining the competition. Choosing a system that ranks the users in the person’s order with more badges can greatly boost their morale and learn more about the application or website.
However, leaderboards can negatively impact some cases as some users may feel demotivated when they compare themselves with people with high ranks. This means that the game element needs to be carefully applied in enhancing the UX experience.
Why Is Gamification in UX Design Important?
Gamification is one of the most widely used techniques in design today as it helps address various problems in UX. Using this technique appropriately and incorporating the right game elements can help designers enhance user experience and engagement. This can greatly improve the conversion rates of the product.
As mentioned above, gamification brings fun to the usage of applications and websites. The end-users are able to experience the interactive process that involves handling challenges, competitive spirit, and fun, just like in video games. This motivates them to use the product and also encourages them to get back. Moreover, gamification includes challenges with awards and tasks promised to those who manage to overcome them. This helps create excitement and curiosity that drive people into performing different actions and spend more time on the website or application.
Consequently, gamification is among the major design approaches today. Furthermore, many designers actively apply gamification in various projects to enhance the user experience and engagement. Thus, many users might have already enjoyed the experience of interacting with gamified products, which means that they expect nothing less in your product.
In conclusion, gamification can significantly help improve user’s engagement and experience with your product. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that gamification needs to be done appropriately in order to get the desired results. With its popularity growing rapidly, gamification in UX design is a new technique that can become the leading approach soon.
Where to Learn More
Learn more about gamification in this course, complete with principles, case studies and the legal and ethical issues surrounding gamification:
Gamification – Creating Addictive User Experiences
If you are new to UX design, why not check out the free online library of UX literature here.
Designers have a role beyond making products user-friendly, usable and aesthetically pleasing. The grandfather of user experience design, Don Norman, teaches the importance of design for humanity. Take his course here:
Design for the 21st Century with Don Norman