How Can Gamification Improve UX?

Gamification | 20th April 2018
The word gamification takes us often to a place of keyboards and fun. And we wouldn’t be wrong. The process of gamification consists of applying elements of gameplay to non-gaming contexts. Like other techniques such as motion design, it helps to increase user engagement.  Not only are the design aspects applied, but also those of competition and rewards, that represent a massive importance when observing user behaviour.

The psychology of user engagement by using gamification resides in turning everyday activities into exciting adventures, with prizes, rewards and a hopefully healthy sense of competition. You perform a task, you work hard for it, you get a reward. The competition and the reward works as motivation for the user, who takes the opportunity that this website or app provides to feel better, accomplished and happy.

Fitness or running apps give badges and celebrate milestones, water drinking apps celebrate a healthy day, restaurant apps praise your loyalty to them and so on. It’s also very common that gamified sites or apps create ranking boards to add an extra layer of competition.
Gamification techniques applied to non-gaming environments
Gamification helps to increase user engagement.

The designer needs to worry about the seamless integration of gaming elements in the daily activities featured in what they are working in for the users. This can make or break the gamification: if the process is too conscious for the user, it becomes difficult for him/her to implement it, the process feels like more like a chore than a motivating goal. Intrinsic motivation and challenge are the key words.

How is gamification important?

Gamification is a mechanism that turns out to be important for companies to present successful products in UX for its motivational design in total benefit of the users. It works as well for them as it does for the interface designers, who aim and work to implement these intrinsic elements.

This technique improves knowledge retention, work experience, productivity and most of all, customer engagement and retention. Even for those clients who may not be as tech savvy. It builds another bridge between the two worlds: the developer/designer and the user. Not only gamification improves UX, but it also works as an important tool to influence the users’ behaviour – the ultimate goal, marketing wise.
The gamification techniques motivate users to reach new levels
A new level means challengs were accomplished. In this interface created for Uniplaces Ambassadors you can see how the community development levels work.

Gamification techniques in UX

This technique is actually a complex use of game mechanisms that need to interact with UI elements. Gamification is not turning something into a game; it’s applying gaming elements into non-gaming platforms. So, reaching a balance is mandatory. There are some mechanisms that have been distinguished for their good results when it comes to gamification:
  • Challenge – one or more motivational challenges are introduced to users as a way to reach or complete a goal that may give them a reward like, for example, have access to more features of a product or even a prize. Challenges can consist of visiting the website daily, using the app daily etc;
  • Badges and stickers – awarding badges or stickers for achieving a goal or completing a task/challenge is another useful gamification technique to improve UX. Users love to collect, they love creativity and this technique opens the path of nostalgia, reminding people of their sticker albums and video games badges;
  • Leaderboards – human beings are competitive and in gaming that factor is key. The desire to lead and to be the winner is an excellent motivational factor, as it increases enthusiasm. It should be applied carefully as to not break motivation for the users in the bottom places;
  • Points – a classic system that ban be creatively applied in a gamification way. The scheme can be applied in different ways, not only in the classic point counting. For example, a food app counting the number of times someone orders one or more products, promising an offer when a certain number is reached.

These techniques have one big thing in common: they promote and motivate loyalty in the user.

Hi Interactive for Uniplaces: examples in gamification

Hi Interactive worked with Uniplaces, in developing a digital platform called Uniplaces Ambassadors. Uniplaces promotes the renting and housing of college students, while attempting to facilitate the process for both student and “landlord”.
Gamification applied at the Uniplaces website
Uniplaces Amabassadors point systems that result in a ranking, allowing to see one's evolution.

For this partnership, the goal was that Uniplaces promoters and brand ambassadors could have a profile that would compare their efficiency level, what was their success rate etc. Hi Interactive had the chance to attribute some elements of gamification to the platform, turning it into a healthy competition with challenges. The concepts of developing skills, gaining experience and the chance to win a few awards were given.

A platform of learning and training for the ambassadors, to show progress and allow all the information to be storage and organized in one place, turned into an interesting challenge to make it user friendly, while applying the techniques of gamification. Challenges, point systems and rewards were developed, as well as badges. This required a good communication flow between the client, the UI team, the motion design team and the management of all teams and client.
Another example of an applied gamification technique on a non-gaming website
The user's achievements and prizes indicate gamification was successful. 

In conclusion

Gamification increases user engagement, creating a product fun and enjoyable without complicating the user experience. Designers apply it more and more in a number of websites and applications. Marketing strategies also demand it, as the popularity of gamification in UX rises.
Are you looking to apply gamification techniques on your own platforms? Contact us.