Friday Dec 21, 2012

Moving gamification from concept to design

In the last few months, the UX team has been busy--very busy--working on gamification of a few key enterprise flows.  And the process we've been following is one of the reasons I think we aren't going to fall into the trap that Gartner described in their recent report on gamification.  In that report, Gartner predicts that by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives primarily because of poor design. 

80%.

And I'm guessing that's a pretty reasonable prediction.  Part of the reason for that is that many companies are gamifying applications because it's the hot thing to do and they aren't thinking about why they should gamify those applications.  In our user experience group, we are regularly reviewing some key points about gamification.  First and foremost, you need to start with a business objective.  What are you trying to get people to do differently?  Why are you trying to get them to change?  Can you measure whether or not you are, in fact, changing the behavior you want to change with game mechanics?  And are you willing to redesign if it turns out your gamification design isn't effective?

A good portion of gamification, in my estimation, is just effective usability made more transparent to the user.  For example, in usability, we know that people want feedback--they want to know what to do and then they want feedback that they are doing it right, that things are progressing, that they are successful.  Good usability and good gamification just make that more transparent to end users.  And end users like that.

Some gamification is a bit more complex and can drive users to activities or actions that they are less inclined to do.  But you are still using good principles of usability to get there.

So what are companies doing that makes them fail?  They aren't following a good user experience process.  In our organization, we put a lot of emphasis on testing our designs with users.  Most recently, we were testing gamified designs with potential end users at the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG)  meetings in Birmingham UK.  We presented gamified flows and the same flow without gamification and got feedback on what worked and what did not.  We use that information to revise and modify our designs, prior to coding and delivering as a product. 

Real users, testing our designs, modifying.  Then you develop.

That's the key to not ending up part of the 80%.

About

All things gamification, mostly focused on the Enterprise space but occasionally on other issues related to gamification. Written by Erika Noll Webb, Senior Manager User Experience from the Fusion Applications User Experience group. Thoughts are my own. Picked the fish theme because the fish are orange and blue. Go Illini. Twitter @erikanollwebb and @GamifyOracle

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