Last time we had a quick look at the general concept of what gamification is and how getting your brain a squirt of our old friend dopamine can help engage our users like never before. This week I’ll have a look at a few ways we can start to gamify our applications.
Friends, family and colleagues are a large influence on what we do, join, participate in and how much we enjoy those activities. It is possible to use this to make our applications more engaging.
Fitbit is one good example of gamification in a non-game application. By providing a platform for people to compare performance on their latest fitness escapades, weekend walks suddenly become an area of potential bragging rights. Fitbit is built from the ground up with this in mind as they have features like challenges where people can set up goals and see who can be the first to reach them! Works well, and all in the name of fitter users!
Borrowing directly from modern games, Achievement is one of the easiest ways to make sure that people are getting the best out of your application. Achievements are a list of awards you can give your user when they perform particular tasks with your application. This can encourage users to do tasks in new ways or use a feature of the applications they would not use otherwise. This can even be combined with application patches to introduce users to new functionality in a fun and interactive way.
Tripadvisor has a great example of achievement based gamification! With their TripCollective badges, you get awarded for using your Tripadvisor app in lots of creative ways. Have a preference for reviewing Hotels? Tripadvisor will let you show that to the world with your Hotel Expertise badge! Love travelling the globe and helping out your fellow globetrotters by reviewing the must see’s, the passport badge is the badge for you! All of these things give a warm fuzzy feeling to the achievers out there!
Some people are highly competitive in nature. This can really help with building an engaging application, all we have to do is give them ever advancing goals or records to break and application addiction will flow!
One example is leaderboards in Salesforce.com. Leaderboards show who is currently performing well at their job, combined with badges or achievement you can see what they are doing well and how you can improve to be just like them.
There is some controversy in using things like leaderboards to improve performance, some people will not respond well to that kind of pressure and may end up performing worse if they don’t see an opportunity to be at the top. A better alternative for some applications would be to have a system of personal bests so that an individual can compete with themselves and see improvement over time rather than feeling down about being beaten by their colleagues every week.
So that’s a few ways you can “trick” people into enjoying your application. Do you have any good examples of gamification from apps you use or apps you have created? Tell us how it worked in the comments!
Timothy Gray – Code Conjurer
Coffee to Code