How UX Designers Use Gamification to Their Advantage

Gamification is a growing trend in the user experience (UX) design industry, with many design professionals incorporating game elements into products and mobile apps. And it’s all because gamification enhances the user experience – making it more interactive and enjoyable for the end users. By introducing a gamified user experience, designers are able to increase user engagement and craft unique experiences. And that’s not all! UX designers can also use game mechanics to help users learn new skills, reach goals, and stay motivated, among other things. Fascinating, isn’t it? If you think so, just keep reading! In this article, we’ll explore gamification in UX and its many benefits.

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What is gamification?

Gamification is the design that places the most emphasis on human motivation in the process. In essence, it is Human-Focused Design as opposed to Function-Focused Design.”

– Yu Kai Chou, Author of Actionable Gamification 

Gamification can be described as the implementation of game design techniques, mechanics, and elements in non-game contexts for the purpose of engaging users. In a nutshell, gamification is a design process in which a task or activity is enhanced by incorporating game-like features such as a point system, leaderboards, and virtual rewards. 

The goal of gamification in UX design is to boost engagement and encourage users to continue using a product. When used strategically, gamification can lead to an enjoyable user experience, positive user feedback, and increased user retention. 

Why User Experience Designers Take Inspiration from the Gaming Industry

Crafting an engaging and enjoyable experience is integral to the success of UX design – which is why many designers draw inspiration from the video game industry for their non-game products. After all, video games have a certain allure that keeps users engaged. 

So, it makes sense that designers use gameplay elements, such as progress bars and fun challenges as a way to motivate users and act as a method of positive reinforcement. 

Benefits of Using Gamification in UX Design

“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”

– Jane McGonigal, American Game Designer & Researcher

As we mentioned earlier, introducing gaming elements in UX design can have many benefits. Here are a few reasons why user experience designers use gamification elements in their work. 

More Engaged Users

One reason UX designers and product designers may use gamification elements is to keep users engaged. These days, it can be hard to keep someone’s attention. However, implementing a gamification technique, such as a points system, may enhance the user experience. And over time, this could lead to increased user engagement and motivation to interact with a product, app, or service. 

illustration of hands gaming in a virtual landscape

An Increase in User Feedback

When users are engaged, they are more likely to leave feedback on message boards and social media, letting other users (and prospective customers) know about their experience with a product. Folks love to share information, after all. 

Improved ROI

By improving engagement through the implementation of game mechanics, user experience designers can help companies improve ROI. After all, engaged customers are more likely to be loyal to a company and invest in the business’ current and future products. 

More User Data to Collect

Adding features that enable users to track their progress, collect badges, or earn rewards can lead to an increase in user data. And that data can be used to gain a better understanding of user behavior and lead to an improved user experience overall.

Enhanced Learning Experiences for Users

Gamification can also be used to help users hone new skills and achieve their goals. This is evidenced by the gamification elements that are often incorporated into fitness and productivity apps. 

Examples of UX Gamification

There are many apps and products that incorporate gamification. Some include:

  • Duolingo: A popular language learning app that uses gaming elements, allowing users to earn points as they complete lessons and quizzes, as they advance through the various levels. 
  • Fitbit: An activity-tracking device and fitness app that uses game-inspired features that allow users to earn badges and compete with other users for the most steps taken in a day. Like many games, Fitbit encourages a competitive spirit. 
  • Headspace: A mobile app for meditation uses gamification that enables users to track their progress, earn rewards, and unlock new features as they complete daily tasks. 

These are just a few examples of how gamification is incorporated into UX design. However, there are many more. From fitness apps, productivity trackers, habit-building apps, audiobook platforms, and more; it is becoming commonplace for companies to add some element of gaming to their products.