Gamification is a global trend that has become tremendously popular in recent years. It has been used by businesses for over 50 years already. This concept involves the use of gaming mechanisms in areas not previously related to games. The aim is simple: to introduce the processes of your product in such a way, that the user stays engaged and motivated for the further use of your app or website. Gamification allows the user to spend more time in the application, successfully attracts their attention, and engages them in achieving the next levels, competing with others, or receiving awards. All of the activities can translate then into specific benefits for the company later on.
Why should you introduce the elements of gamification in your product design?
Building users’ loyalty and engagement
Many companies use the concept of gamification in order to build strong relationships with their customers and increase their level of brand loyalty. For example, in order to do that, Starbucks introduced its rewards program in their mobile app: every time the customer pays for an order with the app or the Starbucks Card, they receive 2 stars for each dollar spent in the cafeteria. In return, the customer gets free items as soon as they reach a milestone, e.g. 25 or 50 stars. This strategy has a strong emphasis on the relationship between the customer and the brand. Who doesn’t like getting free items? Moreover, we as people tend to be consistent in our choices, so if we invest some amount of our time and commitment to a particular brand, we’re more likely to continue doing that, instead of switching to another brand every week. The trend of gamification is changing the way how companies interact with their customers. It gives a wide spectrum of opportunities to increase user engagement and commitment in an extraordinary and entertaining way.
Attracting new potential clients
It is nothing new that the goal of every company is to attract more and more people interested in their products and services. One of the most powerful and credible forms of marketing is the word of mouth. If you provide your recipients with fun games and elements, valuable rewards, and opportunities for interacting with other users, they will eagerly recommend your app to their friends and encourage them to have fun together. One of the methods supporting that idea is to give the users additional rewards for inviting other people to use the app. A good example of a company that took advantage of that is Duolingo – an app for learning languages online. For each friend who becomes a new user thanks to you, you get 7 days of premium for free. What is more, the score and progress level of the participants are displayed on the scoreboard, which makes people compete with each other. The users are also rewarded for each day of consistency in using the app. What can be more motivating to learn a new language?
Increasing sales results and conversion rates
Gamification is not only a great UX tool for attracting people to your product or service and getting their attention but it also has a direct impact on sales and the resulting increase in profit. An interesting example of a company that used the potential of gamification to grow the number of sales is a well-known restaurant chain called Domino’s Pizza. Their idea was to engage their clients with the Pizza Hero app which enables them to create their own pizza by taking part in a simple game included in the app. Not only does it create a unique experience and entertainment but also gives the opportunity to extend the offer beyond the standard menu using the imagination of its customers – and responds directly to their needs! As a result, the project has brought the company an increase of 30% in sales revenue and more than 7 million pizzas designed by the clients.
What kind of game mechanics should you use to benefit your UX design?
OK, the fact that including gamification elements in the user experience design of your product will be beneficial for your business seems quite obvious but which practices are the most effective and useful? Take a look at the few examples listed below and consider them in the context of your product design:
Challenges and awards
Including activities based on challenges, especially if they are related to gaining a reward, as a result, makes your app very attractive to the user as it satisfies their need for achievement and improvement. Having a defined goal makes them get back to your app to achieve it and get a promised reward with the additional benefit of making progress in their skills. Challenges should be interesting, restricted with rules, and balanced – too difficult or too easy ones will quickly discourage users from taking part in them. When it comes to the rewarding system for the accomplished tasks, they can take many forms – from simple stickers, through a place on the leaderboard, unique app features, collectible points, up to exclusive discounts for your products or services. Whatever your imagination tells you, as long as the prize provides the user with the value they would like to get. This sort of game mechanics used in mobile or web UX design motivates people using it to learn more about your product or service.
Points and leaderboards
Another commonly applied practice in game design is the system of earning points for accomplishing particular tasks. It allows players to measure how successful they are in the game and, on the other hand, it gives the stakeholders valuable feedback about the level of effort and engagement the user puts into using the product. Taking advantage of the point system, you can create a system of ranking based on the number of points which is called a scoreboard or a leaderboard. The additional element of competition will encourage users to interact with each other and make your game even more exciting.
Journey – a personal adventure with the product
A lot of people like adventures – even if they’re taking part in them only virtually. Designing your game in such a way that people can go through it step by step will make it more intuitive and understandable for them. According to the “scaffolding” strategy, it’s good to introduce players gradually to further functionalities so that they are not afraid of making mistakes or missing some important information. To keep them motivated to continue their journey, you can summarize the data about their achievements after completing particular parts.
Badges and stickers
This type of game mechanics may be underestimated by some designers, however, it also plays a significant role in a reward system as an additional motivator. Receiving a badge or an original sticker together with the main award will make the player feel even more appreciated and distinguished. This awarding system is well-known from the video games already. The previously mentioned Duolingo app uses this system by handing out stickers to users that have achieved the appropriate skill level. They even have their own name – they’re called Lingots.
Even though this word may not have positive connotations, in terms of gamification it can be a beneficial component. Here the limitations refer mostly to time constraints, where the user should fulfill the task or achieve a certain level within a limited time span. By using this psychological trick of putting time pressure on the player, you also motivate him to react faster and often more efficiently. For some people, it’s very stimulating and makes them more inspired and productive.
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Gamification is a powerful tool in the right hands
Although the whole concept of using UX gamification in product design is great fun for the audience and very beneficial in terms of attracting and engaging users, it must be approached responsibly. Many of the practices used in this trend are based on human emotions (you can read about the psychological drives that are used in games in our previous article), therefore their misuse or abuse can result in addiction for many users. It’s worthwhile to balance the introduced methods – the best way is to choose those that contribute to building healthy habits and lifestyles or at least fighting the harmful ones.