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Making happy users with UX gamification

Making happy users with UX gamification

Gamification is the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in a non-game context in order to architect behavior.

In simpler words, gamification is learning from games. But beware, it's Not about learning how to play a game!

Gamification is applying the game design techniques that make games so engaging in a non-game context like interactions with customers, employees, and partners, which make more sales, greater ROI, with satisfied customers.

Is gamification a valuable thing?

Let's get the answer with this example, Upwork has used gamification on their website for a long time and it has an amazing success. Most of the interactions on their website are gamified by using gamification concepts and elements such as Leaderboards, badges, rewards and more. Which is clearly paying off as it is reported in 2017 that they have 14 million users in 180 countries with $1B in annual freelancer billings. So, what you think is it valuable?

Gamification and UX?

Gamification is a method created to be applied to any product to build habits which drive enjoyable user experiences.

Why should I learn more about Gamification?

1-It's happening widely and most of the successful companies and organizations around the globe use it, for example, Google, Facebook, Samsung, eBay and more.

2-It based on science and rules of psychology, Design, Technology, and Business. So it's not an easy recipe and it's evolving every day.

3-Gamification is a powerful tool to increase engagement at any system even in your company environment.

How it all started?

When we were kids, we used to buy Chipsy and chocolate bars just because it had a surprise toy (and of course it's yummy!) this is gamification.

So, gamification is not a new thing, but it used slowly recently in the technology field in parallel with the technology revolution since the '80s and now it's widely used in many fields to name just a few:



3-Military simulations



6-Customer engagement

7-HR and company management systems

To build a good gamified system we need to consider it as a game

So what does game consist of?

Games consist of:

  1. Players
  2. Rules
  3. Game elements
  4. Game Actions
  5. Game Aesthetics

And now Let’s understand each one of them in UX view:

1- Players

Players in UX are the users, which they could be system users, customers, employees, or community.

The users are the center of the system who are interacting with the system and as UX designers, we need those players to be happy and keep them using our products.

2- Game rules

Games should not push players to memorize all the rules, the most important rule is:

1-The game goal: it should be easily remembered.

For instance, the goal of Connect 4 is to connect 4.

Making happy users with UX gamification

2-The user journey: it’s the stages of the user interactions of your system and it consists of:

  • On-boarding stage
  • Scaffolding stage
  • Achieving stage
  • Ending stage

On-boarding: is how to get the user into the system as quickly as possible so it’s the training stage with instructions.

Here is an example of how Slack on-boarding the new user for the first time on their desktop application.

The user journey
Photos Credit to: User on board

Scaffolding: this is the practical stage and there are no instructions, so this stage should be well designed. As a UX designer, you should plan all the easy and complex tasks and where should be in your system.


Achieving stage: users should be always motivated and informed of their progress to keep them using the product with good feedback.

Achieving stage
Photo credit to duolingo app

Ending Stage: at this stage, the user has done the task and should be awarded and they’re going to be treated with privileges as experts.

3- Game elements

It’s the toolbox, and as a UX designer, we should use the needed tools only.

For example:

  • Points
  • Levels
  • Rewards
  • Badges
  • Leaderboards
  • And more.
Be Careful, gamification is a way more than the game elements:


Photo credit to Cosmicode

4- Game actions

Game actions derive from the game rules. Actions guide user’s behavior and give the possibility to interact with the system and other users. For example: rolling the dice in Backgammon game, or comment and delete in a system.

5- Game aesthetics

It’s the desirable emotional responses stimulate in the user.

So, it’s How people use, enjoy, and interact with the system.

Some of the common emotional responses:

  • Challenge
  • Sensation
  • Competition
  • Fantasy
  • Discovery and more.
Game aesthetics

In a nutshell

“Games are the only force in the known universe that can get people to take action against their self-interest, in a predictable way, without using force." Gabe Zichermann

Gamification is a superpower and superpowers make heroes who could be good or evil. So, there is an ethical aspect of using gamification and it should be respected. Otherwise, it will be used in manipulating people and putting them in real danger. Actually, gamification in digital products right now is in an evolving era like Physics at the beginning of the ‘90s and it’s our responsibility to prevent any bad use of it because the Einstein of gamification could be anyone one of us.


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