In the past decade or so, the value of online, indie, and mobile app games has become undeniable. The simple act of mild gamification or including a game in your app can significantly change its course in both popularity and how easy the interface feels to use. The key is to tap into the same motivational hooks that games use to keep you interested and playing for hours while still sticking to the core premise and function of your website or app's services. What people most enjoy about games, and why it's the single common factor in almost all games, is achievement.
They like seeing the numbers go up, overcoming difficult situations, and being rewarded for their efforts. While the concept of gamification may seem intimidating at first, we can assure you that you don't need triple-A graphics or even an actual game to provide your users with the rewarding experience of winning a game. All you need are points and a fun UI.
1) Points in the Nav Bar
The first and perhaps most important piece of subtly gamifying your UI design is points in the nav-bar. You can choose to represent your points in other ways as well but the power of the nav bar is that people already know it's there and look to it often in order to get around the pages and access your features. By putting your gamification points in the nav bar, you ensure that users will look at them often and see them as an official part of the design, as integral as 'Home', 'Account', or 'Contact'.
What are the points for? The beauty of gamification is that the points don't have to be for anything in particular, as long as it makes the users feel good. Of course, you can work them into a rewards system where they can earn discounts or some other promotional secondary goal but gamification points can at least start as a simple representation of user activities.
2) Challenges for Points
But how do users earn these arbitrary yet somehow emotionally rewarding 'points'? By doing what you want them to do. If you want users to surf the site, give them a slow trickle of points for doing so. Give them points for making purchases, talking to customer support, or perhaps for logging in every day. These are great ways to reward users for using your app, visiting your website, and interacting with the company in general.
However, the most valued rewards are ones you have to work for. Make sure that at least a few of the point rewards come from things that were difficult or, at the very least, took a lot of time to achieve. A great way to get your users hooked is to reward them for filling out every section of their profile pages or trickle-reward for each section individually. Challenge them to complete quizzes or online classes, and participate in surveys as long as it's not too promotional or spammy. You can also give 'customer loyalty' rewards like frequent flyer miles which take steady patronage or a lot all at once.
3) Congratulatory Pop-Ups
When a customer and user of the website or app achieves a goal, don't just let the moment slide past. Use pop-ups and enthusiastic congratulations to celebrate the big point acquisitions as your users interact with the website and app UI. Make sure this happens no more than about three times a day or fewer and it will be a happy morale boost for your customers every time they earn a few points in your app.
4) User Levels
Finally, when wondering what to do with the points, the first and most natural result is letting your users 'level up' after reaching a certain amount of points in sequence. The levels could do nothing but slightly change the appearance of their profile or posts in the forums and it will still be rewarding for your audience as more 'dedicated' or longer standing customers visibly become the established seniors in your online community. Whether or not you let users spend the points on prizes, levels are rewarding all on their own.
Gamification is a great way to get your users engaged, logging in every day, and staying active in the online community. Giving out points allows you to both guide the online actions of your users and provide a little emotional reward for using your app or visiting your website. If you want to make your UI catchy and fun without changing the content or design at all, consider just a touch of gamification. For more information about website and mobile app design, contact us today!