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We have all played games as a kid. Be it indoors or outdoors – games have challenged us, rewarded us and helped us be a better version of ourselves. The more engaging and interactive a game is, the more it motivates us to keep playing. If we apply this technique to our design, it could help achieve simplicity which, in turn, would enhance the user experience.

In this article, I’ll walk you through what gamification in design is and how you can use it to enrich user experience and engagement.

What is Gamification?
Gamification in simple words means using game principles in a non-gaming environment. More often than not, most people confuse gamification with game design. However, gamification is used to help design websites and apps for an interactive feel. The more engaging the user interaction, the more the user feels involved and interested. Gamification helps you tap into the psychology of the user by offering them rewards, recognition, a sense of competition and achievement, etc.

For example, consider the Starbucks mobile app that has a built-in reward feature. Whenever a user purchases a coffee or any other item, some points are added to their account. So say, you’ve purchased 9 coffee’s then your 10th one is free. You can customize orders based on your rewards, so on and so forth. In a nutshell, each customer has a unique experience when using their rewards.
Reward-based activity trigger users to return to your website/web app once again.

Let us look at three gamifying mechanics that can help boost your UX:

  • Leading Statistics
    Challenges keep people glued to your app as it fosters a competitive spirit. As a web designer, you can set the right parameters for users to reach their goals.If your website/app is about users attempting quizzes, then selecting the right answers helps them score more points. The more the number of levels a user has navigated, more the badges they earn. Designing a leaderboard that tells users the level at which they are is a good motivation.

    Interland an initiative by Google is an educational website filled with simple games designed to teach users how to be safe on the internet. It is primarily made for young kids.

  • Rewards
    Rewards and recognition are very important when it comes to enriching user experience. As a user progresses in his/her journey on your website, there should be some form of reward system.For example, if you have a gaming app, then you can give users bonus points, stickers or badges to be displayed on their profile. Otherwise, if you’re an e-commerce website, based on the customer purchases, sign-up etc. you can add some reward points to their account which they can use later for some product purchase on your site.

    Another example is that of Uber, where both the driver and customers give ratings to each other. These ratings are visible on their respective profiles and tend to make the users happy. Even though the customers aren’t drawing any salary (like the driver whose pay and progression depend on such ratings), they too feel proud of themselves.

    Source: Jorden Jenkins

    Incorporating this gaming mechanism in your design not only makes the customer feel valued but also keeps them coming back to you.

  • User Journey
    A user’s journey is a very vital part of the success of your web design. Each user is most likely to be in different stages, and these could change over time depending on their needs. The right progression can help improve user engagement and interaction with your app. Thus, a user journey can be described as the stage/levels the user progress with respect to the time he/she has been using the product.User journey can be broadly classified into four different aspects. These aspects are in line with the usual web design approach.

    1. Start:
      This is the stage where the user signs up on your app. The start or the onboarding journey should be such that the user is compelled to explore. One tip is to present information in a clear persuasive manner so that the user explores the app further. This stage is usually informational and instructional.

      Source: Moinul Ahsan
    2. Scaffolding:
      Scaffolding is the second stage in a user’s journey. In this stage, you can present the user with features and possibilities of using your product. This stage is the most crucial one as it decides whether a user will continue being on your app or not. Try to keep this stage as interactive as possible and minimal too.

      Source: Menu Schedule Screen
    3. Progress:
      Progression is a very important feature of any journey. If a user is stagnant, then he/she may not be motivated enough to continue using your web app anymore. Providing users with timely progress bars, feedback on how they are doing so far or what awaits them once they accomplish a goal is very important. An e-commerce portal can give stats to users on how many items they purchased and how much they saved. Educational apps can tell how much they’ve learnt as a part of their curriculum etc. Progress stage helps a user to self-evaluate themselves, and this is the best form of motivation ever.

      Source: Patient Rating & Notification Screen
    4. End: The end stage is the final stage of any web app. However, this doesn’t mean that users stop using your app or you have no end to your product, and it runs in an endless loop. If your design has these features, then you’re most likely to lose your customer base as users can get bored with the repetitive features. One way to engage experienced users is to give them loyalty awards or badges. This, in turn, would encourage new users too.

With so much of competition in the market, you need to know how to gain that extra edge to win the hearts of your customers and more importantly, keep them coming back for more. Every business should also work from an ‘emotional appeal’ than just a ‘logical one’. Even the chance of winning a chocolate that costs next to nothing makes a whole group excited to find an answer or solve a riddle.

Applying these emotional aspects of rewards and recognition can enhance user experience and engagement, eventually leading a business to a long way of customer loyalty and retention.

H. FatimaH. FatimaH. FatimaH. Fatima used to be an Engineer by profession and Writer by passion until she started pursuing full-time writing. She is presently a Content Marketeer at Endurance International Group (APAC). She mostly writes what she deeply perceives and analyses, it is her way of unwinding. Her interests include writing, reading (an avid reader), watching foreign-language movies and public speaking.View all posts by H. Fatima