Engagement is a vital metric in measuring the success of a website, and many websites and online services are taking lessons from a digital industry that is built around creating engaging experiences for users: video games.
Gamification, despite the name, does not necessarily involve creating a game for your business, although that is an option. It is about creating interactive elements that take advantage of principles mastered in video games to boost engagement.
Modern video games engage players by setting them goals, providing rewards, enabling competition and a sense of achievement, as well as allowing for these achievements to be shared with others.
All of these aspects can be integrated into a website or web service to help boost engagement, and make a user feel rewarded for their time, taking advantage of the peak-end theory to ensure that our lingering memories of an experience are both strong and positive in nature.
Some of the best examples of gamification are so ubiquitous you often do not even notice.
A basic example you can see is in social media such as LinkedIn. They “score” profile pages on a percentage scale based on what information you have added, which appears at the top of every page and even provides sections on what you can add to next. This provides goals and a score.
Many gamification tools will also set a target to be achieved, such as fitness apps and lifestyle tools. They often measure a “streak” of days when a target has been achieved and highlight achievements for meeting these milestones.
Grammarly, a common spelling, punctuation and grammar checking application scores articles from 0 to 100 based on their grammatical correctness, and provides milestone achievements and metrics for how well a user is progressing.
Other examples you will see are quizzes and personality tests, which ask a user a series of questions to try and find the right product for them, often with a way to share the result at the end. This emphasises self-expression and interactivity, as well as offering product advice at the end.
Many tools use leaderboard systems, which emphasise frequent engagement with the service and the social element of these tools.
Waze is a very good example of this, as it combines route mapping services with a social element that allows people to supply information to the app and get rewarded in the form of a points system.
Points are also accrued by driving with the app running, which incentivises frequent engagement.
Problem-solving is a huge aspect of gamification. People love to solve puzzles, so by adjusting your customer journey process to include gameplay elements you help to boost engagement.
A simple example of this might be an easter egg hunt. Hide an icon or a little figure across your website, and allow people to track how many they found. It triggers a completionist instinct as people will visit each page trying to complete this hunt.
Ultimately, the best gamification is simple and serves to boost engagement. Be wary of focusing too heavily on gamification elements, especially if they detract from the overall content.
A problem Duolingo has is that people engage with the site not to actually help their language skills but to try and reach the top of a leaderboard.
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