Here, we discover why gamification is an important aspect of web design and take a look at the best examples from around the web.
What is gamification anyway?
Gamification is the concept of bringing game mechanics or design to something that isn't usually considered game-like,
whether it's a website, web app or native app.
The goal is to make that traditional platform more engaging by adding a gaming edge to it. There are many different aspects of gaming that can be brought to a website or app. Some examples are: achievements, hidden bonuses, countdowns, progression, questing and status type information such as leader-boards.
Actions and rewards are the basic building blocks of gamifying anything on the web. Giving users some kind of reward (points, stars, virtual cupcakes) for doing a task they might not otherwise do (or enjoy doing) is a way of keeping them engaged and ensuring that they return.
Deciding on what your users get for which tasks and taking into consideration the numerous different combinations and results will determine the success of your design.
Fun and games
Gamification by itself isn't the silver bullet to making your website or application awesome. It will likely largely complicate the overall design and bring in many new details and functional problems to solve. However, when designed and implemented correctly it can have a huge impact on user loyalty and engagement.
All this will end, however, if you don't focus on making it all fun: there needs to be a relevant reason for people to engage with what you've created. Constantly ask yourself "does this benefit the user and is it fun?" throughout your project and you'll stay on target.
01. Epic Win
For Epic Win, the task list management app for the iPhone, the creators applied the mythos of a fantasy RPG and simple actions and rewards, in the form of badges, to breathe some life into the to-do app. You receive rewards when you complete tasks from your to-do list, which makes that trip to the post office even more exciting!
The blogging platform Tumblr uses a leader board type view to show you new content across its thousands of categories. The success of this site couldn't be clearer, with over 6 million users. Interestingly, owner David Karp announced today that the site will introduce paid advertisements despite previously stating that online ads 'turn our stomachs.'
LinkedIn (linkedin.com), the personal professional network website, uses a progress bar to show you how far along you are in completing your profile. Getting to 100 per cent takes time and becomes a compelling achievement. As of December 31, 2011 (the end of the fourth quarter), professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate that is faster than two new members per second. Not bad, eh?!
The website design and development learning service Treehouse uses the basics of actions and rewards to help students along with their coursework, using beautifully designed badges as rewards. It's a gem of a website, making even the most mundane tasks fun whilst ensuring its users receive the very best training.
The check-in and rate things app Oink used a status system where you could gain status in different categories to become an expert reviewer. You could finally 'win' at coffee! Oddly, it was announced on March 14th that Kevin Rose has pulled the plug on Oink to focus on the company's next venture. The gamification was great though!
Words: Gene Crawford
This article was originally published in .net magazine issue 225.
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