The 3 Don’ts of Gamified User Experience

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This article was originally written by Yaniv Nizan.

In the last decade the practice of developing and launching online and mobile services went through a big change. One might say that we are leaving in the era of free leverage and it has never been so easy to launch new services. This trend created a situation in which many companies are competing for the user attention and awareness and it has never been more important to invest a great effort in designing user experience that makes it very easy for developers to fall in love with your product and get into a loop where they engage with the product and get value.

One of the tools that were developed for the purpose of increasing user’s engagement and retention with products is the concept of gamification. In a nutshell the idea is to turn the usage of the product to a more playful experience that encourages the user to perform more actions. I collected some great tips about how to gamify your UX. let’s present them as mistakes. Gamified blog post – UNLOCKED.

Mistake #1 – Gamifying Transactional Experiences

Before attempting to gamify a user experience one should ask himself if the experience is worth gamifying. The reality is that not all experiences are intended to be playful. Some experiences, for example, provide immediate value to the user and so there is a very little need for gamifying it. One example is a purchase transaction. In fact, if you take a look at In-App Purchase Stores inside games, you will realize that even these are not gamified at all. The SOOMLA Project is a tool for building and managing In-App Purchase stores inside mobile games and based on research we have done, the stores perform best when they are straight forward and clear to the user. In other words, gamification is about generating engagement and motivation and stores are about capitalizing on it. Gamification is in fact at its best when the application requires the user to invest his/her time and efforts for a while without receiving an immediate reward or gratification.

Mistake #2 – Cluttering the First Time Experience

The first user experience is very important and many web applications are already very complex as it is. Users that enter a web applications have overwhelming amount of information that they need to process so adding gamified elements presents a risk of making the interface even more complex. A better way of gamifying the first interaction is to use a tool that is shared by many games – the first time

Mistake #3 – Stealing the Show

One of the mistakes that could be made when trying to gamify an application is losing focus on what the goal of the application is. Gamification can encourage a user to make certain actions in the short run but it is important to make sure that these actions will have a positive impact on the user in the long term. The positive feedback we are giving the user through Gamification cannot replace the positive feedback he should get from the application itself. Encouraging users to make actions that will hurt him or purely benefit the application provider will eventually come back to hurt us. Gamification works best when the user already has a good reason to perform the actions to begin with and we are only improving his/her ability to track the progress, get a sense of achievement and get small rewards.

Yaniv Nizan is the CEO and Co-Founder of The SOOMLA Project, the platform for Creating In-App Purchase Stores for Mobile Games. Yaniv also writes in 4 different blogs and speaks in different industry events about gamification and game design.