The user-centered approach has become the focal point in creating human-centered product designs, which strive to satisfy users' needs. 

And since this method has become popular in many design projects, UX designers continually search for new techniques in improving user experiences. And one of the most touched factors concerning user experience is human emotions. 

In this article, Gamification in UX, we will discuss how this design method became important in the field of UX. In light of this, we will also discuss the following topics:



What is gamification?

The word "gamification" can easily be mistaken with game design. This designed context is hardly related to gaming and, in many ways, opposite gaming design.  

In technology, gamification is a technique of applying game mechanics to a non game products and environment such as websites and mobile applications.

An example would be adding a powerful tool as a challenge in your mobile application to encourage users to interact with your app. There are many ways to add a "challenge" element to your application. You can task the users to check the app every day to be rewarded in return. 

The concept of running a challenge is to have a clear goal and to reward users after the goal is achieved. In reality, people like to have clear goals, which such challenges will never be unnoticed by users. 

This is one way of influencing users' behaviors and motivating them as "players" to do the foreseen actions through game elements like challenges and rewards. 


Why gamification appeals to user experience (UX) design

Gamification is a technique utilized to drive user engagement for many reasons. This method is not about transforming user interfaces into the gaming environment. 

Instead, gamification is all about injecting fun elements into the website or applications that may lack immediacy or importance for users. 

When done correctly, gamification incentivizes users to achieve goals and helps them overcome negative experiences that may arise with the system and tasks required to complete. 

The fundamental dynamics that UX designers incorporate in successful gamification are in themselves effective in achieving motivation. This simply means that users are engaged in the system because they want to. 

For example, mobile apps such as Foursquare promote users to "mayors" of establishments after achieving several visits. This also enables users to compete for the top spot while enjoying means, shopping, and other app activities. 

You can introduce the gamification method into the system and apply gameplay elements to inspire and motivate users to your website and app, especially on challenging or tedious tasks. 

You can gamify your system in several ways, such as countdowns to motivate users to complete a percentage of a task. 

It has been proven by many applications using the gamification method that people love and enjoy interactivity, which also satisfies their curiosity. You may also use the social element to increase user engagement. 


The challenge of gamification for UX designers

While gamification is a fun element to incorporate in UX design thinking, this method is challenging to execute. UX designers should be very cautious when it comes to incorporating "fun factors" into the system. There should be a balance between the fun element and the tone of the subject matter. 

Another thing you will need to think about is to tailor the gameplay and the rewards precisely and appropriately to the many users. For example, the gamification method and the nature of rewarding users for an app won't suit a corporate environment that prefers a subtler approach. 

Additionally, UX designers should fulfill specific user needs should players use the system without forcing themselves to. The following requirements should include:

Autonomy

The user's actions should be voluntary. UX designers should not push them to adapt desired behaviors. Instead, the design should add very subtle elements which users can find on their own. This will make users feel in control of the experience.

Relatedness

UX designers should make the users feel that the company or brand cares about them and on what matters to them. You can achieve this by customizing the brand's content and tone to cater to the target users. This also promotes users' loyalty to the brand or company.

Competence

This is about keeping users comfortable as they discover the design. The users should not feel overwhelmed or confused about the UX design. Like for example, if you do not want to overwhelm your users for reading a lot of texts or content, you can use icons or progressive disclosure. 


Different types of gamification in UX design

We've discussed about gamification having several ways to spice up a user's web and mobile experiences. UX designers can utilize many gamification elements in the website and free medium app to increase how users engage on the product design site or app, build loyalty, and retain users. 

Here are the five most popular types of game elements:

Badges and stickers

The badges and stickers are popular for users, especially in watching videos in game mechanics where we often see them. You can incorporate the same element in the mobile app experience to reward users for gathering several points. 

This seemed to be a small thing, but users feel a sense of satisfaction when they receive a notification whenever there is a reward achieved or points accumulated. Rewards and points can amplify the user's satisfaction even more. 

Leatherboard

Another user experience that users like is tasting the opportunity of becoming a leader. Competition is another important factor when it comes to converting a mobile app UX into an exciting and fun activity. 

Challenges

Every person loves challenges. As human beings, we learn to evolve and take part in every challenge that we come to face. Most of us look at challenges as opportunities to try and define our limits. 

Challenges also make us step out of our comfort zones. Challenges also engage us, which helps turn boring activities into fun and adventurous ones. 

When applied in mobile and web UC, this gamification element helps users be motivated to try new experiences and learn more about the product design. 

Points

A lot of game mechanics use the point system to show a gamer's overall progress bars. It allows users to see how much is done and what is left to do. Points are stimuli that boost users to proceed with completing the tasks. 

You may use the same gamification element in your web or mobile app to measure the users' success. This element is widely used in language-learning apps, productivity, time management, task managers, and other educational apps.

Journey

These game mechanics are used to onboard users step by step, turning user experience with a product into a personal journey. Commonly, the scaffolding technique is mainly recommended to introduce new features to the users gradually. 

Thie technique makes users feel like real players while discovering new product features during their app journey. It promotes game like elements adventure and improves user interaction with the product, making the whole user experience smoother and more fun.

Constraints

Constraints, which can also mean limitations or deadlines. While these words do not sound right, they are also considered a game element. 

Countdowns or timers are often used in many games to motivate the players to completing tasks for a limited time. 

While time constraints can create tension for users, they can also motivate users to react faster and take action. 

A lot of users want this kind of retraining feeling to be inspired and be more productive. This can be an excellent opportunity for UX designers to address the users' needs. 


The importance of gamification in user experience

The importance of gamification in user experience

Gamification in UX is fun, unique, and essential. It turns the user's interaction with a product into a memorable and adventurous experience with fun challenges and the satisfaction of winning. 

The different types of gamification allow us to create different kinds of experiences and, at the same time, promote a specific spectrum of users' emotions. 

Gamification provides UX designers to create specific human emotions to drive the product to stand out and become remarkable.  

Since gamification empowers UX designers to drive human emotions, the product has more chances to become successful as it gets a lot of users' attention and reaction. 


Here are tips to help you create significant gamification elements for your next user experience:

Create and enhance the user experience from the user's point of view by incorporating the correct gamification elements and mechanics

You need to conduct UX design research to pinpoint who these users are and how they view and understand the world. 

For example, do your users work and respond in a challenge-oriented environment. Do they suit with experiences driven by reward, more points system, and challenges?  

How about better with constraints to complete monotonous tasks that require immediate action? Does a more discreet approach work better?

Based on your UX research, you can create personas to help you better understand what your users are, and from there, you can tailor a system that will suit the types of gamification elements for your users. 

Understand and learn your design in terms of monitoring its effectiveness in promoting user engagement

Think of usability in this whole process. A successful UX design is one that achieves these two aspects: 1. To increase user engagement, and 2. To satisfy the bigger picture or the original purpose of the design. 

Overall, gamification should be an experience that UX designers should weave carefully into an existing system, not a feature that was just included.  

Provide users something to complete

Provide your users with a straightforward objective that can efficiently be completed. 

If you want to improve and increase engagement, you need to provide users with gamification elements that strive towards finishing. For example, you can incorporate elements that are competitive in nature, such as modules or levels that need to be completed to advance.

If you want to provide users with a way to measure their success or track their progress, you can add a way for users to monitor their level of membership. 

When it comes to designing gamification elements, always channel the inner gamer in you. 

Add rewards to your website or app

Our brain releases dopamine when we receive rewards. Thus, the goal of UX designers is keeping users engaged by providing them with rewards. 

On the website or mobile apps, you can incorporate intangible rewards through coins, badges, or points. 

Creating a reward system is one of the effective ways to improve the user experience. If the users feel they are being rewarded for their efforts after completing a task, they become more willing to dedicate more effort and time to your website or app, increasing user engagement on your website. 

Integrate a healthy competition

Another way to consider when it comes to incorporating gaming elements in your UX is implementing some healthy competition for your users. This is a valuable source of motivation. 

Who does not love to be a winner? You can add a gamified element like leatherboard so users can monitor and compare themselves to others. This can drive competition that can result in higher user engagement.  


Final thoughts

If you plan to level up your gamification, we suggest focusing on the users and thinking about what best drives them. Be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to adding any gamified essential component. 

When you notice that the highlight gamification elements improve the user experience on your website or app, you are doing a great job as a UX designer.

As we've discussed, the top highlight gamification is one of the best ways to help improve the UX you are providing. 

Thus, utilize gamified elements effectively to motivate and increase user engagement.

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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