The A to Z of UX - G is for Gamification: 11 tips for increasing engagement and satisfaction

Darren Wilson

Honestly, this is the first time selecting the topic has been a little bit of a struggle. It could have been grouping or Gestalt, but where’s the fun in that!

Let’s talk about gamification and how that can be utilised to enhance user experience.

Originally coined in the noughties, it’s still relevant as a design technique to incentivise users to complete what they might consider boring and mundane tasks.

What is gamification?

At some point, we’ve all had to do things we didn’t want to, or found no fun in. Back in the day it was homework. Now it’s things for the home, or tasks to do for work.

The process of gamification is not about turning all products into games. It’s more a mechanism by which designers simulate facets from gaming and use them in non-gaming products or services.

This integration of enjoyable elements taps into human emotions and motivations so users have more enjoyable experiences. Essentially, designers try and inject some fun!

Benefits of gamification

Using gamification can be particularly helpful when users do not have an affiliation with, or have no desire to complete, specific tasks. These tasks may be perceived as tedious or yield little value to the specific individual completing them.

By instilling a fun factor can encourage and incentivise the user, helping to mask or even eradicate negative emotions associated with those tasks.

Gamification can help businesses across all sectors, but especially in marketing, sales and customer service.

The most successful gamification techniques can even change users' habits to the point they actively crave to perform well in what was once a tedious task.

Using gamification to create challenges, and reward when successful, can increase the following:

  • Engagement

  • Satisfaction

  • Productivity

  • Learning

  • Usability

  • Sales

  • Retention

How to get gamification right for your experience

1. Know your users and their goals

Motivations will vary depending on the type of user and their objectives.

Conducting UX research [1] prior to any design activity, will provide robust information to select the best gamification solutions and help you think about what techniques might best achieve that.

Would a challenge-based activity reward or demotivate? Do personal challenges create competition within teams?

Are time-based activities a way of improving productivity or do they run the risk of reducing quality?

Knowing your users and their personal goals, will also help you to set your own goals for the ‘game’.