Gamification is the concept of applying elements of game playing to other areas of activity to motivate, engage and change user behaviour. Companies have long been gamifying their marketing processes and products, think Nike+, Starbucks Rewards, and McDonalds Monopoly for high profile examples. Common approaches used are points scoring, leadership tables, and awards.
The market for health apps in particular is booming, which is not surprising given the motivational and habitual barriers to exercise!
Gamification feeds off human impulses around status, achievement and progression. The techniques applied have been so successful they have become the norm across marketing campaigns and mobile apps.
So how can we use gamification to improve user engagement with performance and internal data in the business world?
Stories are easy to follow and understand, try to present data to users in the order they will need it:
Set challenging but achievable targets based on current performance, and identify the easiest way for the user to improve to reach these. Make sure the rules of play are clear to empower users to achieve their goals.
Traditional feedback loops are often very slow, think of annual appraisals at work or college exams. To maintain engagement quick feedback is essential. Apps should refresh in as close to real time as possible.
Use comparisons such as:
Rank users with leadership boards and use awards to reward behaviour you wish to encourage.
Encourage referrals, communication and ownership; Why is my team performing badly? Who can I contact to fix it?
Experience design is important as the process should be simple, engaging and fun for users. Icons are particularly helpful, they are easy to understand and help to associate performance with certain outcomes. For example, reward badges and traffic lights.