What Is Gamification?
Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. This mechanism is extremely powerful and is transforming business models by creating new ways to extend relationships, craft longer-term engagement, and drive customer / employee loyalty.
The root cause of this success is a powerful psychological mechanism that taps into a basic desire that exists sub-consciously within us all – a desire for status, achievement and reward. A lot of people will read that sentence and picture a narcissistic egomaniac that doesn’t resemble them whatsoever, but this exists at a much smaller level and we are all driven in one way or another by these factors: whether it be something superficial like a new car or something more meaningful like recognition from colleagues.
Don’t feel guilty about it though, this mindset is ingrained in us by society for our entire lives: as a baby you receive praise from your parents (reward) for desirable behaviour such as speaking (achievement). As a child you are considered “cool” (status) for being good at sport (achievement) and therefore other children want to be your friend (reward). As an adult you are given a promotion (status) for performing well at work (achievement) and therefore you get a higher salary (reward).Those are only a few examples, and when you consider much of our daily life is based around this same cognitive loop it is no wonder that it can influence us so much when integrated into user experience.
This is why gamification is invaluable to us, by integrating these factors into the Vizibl user experience we can create more powerful engagement that will drive the value of the software considerably. With higher engagement we get more tasks, events, discussions and reviews being created, this naturally means more visibility across the company and more importantly – Value Beyond Savings.
How Have We Gamified Vizibl Then?
The first problem we encountered in this is that Vizibl is not a game – “Vizibl is the online platform that gives your team a single place to manage all your commercial relationships.” Doesn’t exactly sound like something that can be gamified, we’ll leave that to the consumer apps like Tinder, Candy Crush and Instagram. This is the wrong mindset, these apps are the masters of gamification and have driven millions of users to addiction through the effective use of gamification. There are thousands of dating apps but Tinder has taken the market share from all of them with over 1.4 billion swipes daily, similarly there were thousands of photo sharing apps but Instagram is the one with 500 million active users, Candy Crush is no new concept but people waste hours playing every day – these successes are because the user experience is so perfectly gamified. Not only do these apps show the value of gamification to us, but they also have helped to inspire many of the gamified features that are on the Vizibl platform already. It is through applying these concepts to our platform we have managed to incorporate many gamified features into the Vizibl user experience and we have many more in the roadmap still to come.
Lesson 1: Always have a notification
LinkedIn and Facebook are the kings of this. Whenever I log into these sites there is always a notification, even if the notification is that it’s Oswald Copplebot’s birthday or that Dave Bailey (who I have never met) has a new job, it doesn’t matter – I still get a little bit of excitement when I see the little red notification icon.
We have applied this to Vizibl by creating a more eye-catching notifications icon in order to generate more excitement for the user. As well as this we have a smart notifications feature in the roadmap for Q4 that will have more engaging notification language, more relevant notification criteria, daily email updates (optional of course) and integrated reminders. All of these should keep users coming back to the platform engaging at a higher level than before.
Lesson 2: Operant Conditioning
B.F. Skinner’s principles don’t just apply to pigeons, rats and cats, they also work on humans and can be integrated into user experience! When you complete a level on a game you get a trophy or a badge to say well done! Even though this is immaterial and just some pixels on the screen it still makes you feel good about the fact that you completed the level and makes you want to continue to play so you can earn another.
We have applied this to Vizibl by incorporating a new checklist of tasks to complete on the homepage, once checked as complete a positive message pops up to congratulate the user for completing the task. Even though this is a small feature it will still make the user feel more productive and increase the likelihood of them engaging with the platform.
Lesson 3: My score is bigger than yours
Us humans are very competitive, and when we’re winning we want people to know! Almost all games have some sort of scoring incorporated into the user experience, this allows people to compare themselves to others and therefore drives competitiveness as they strive to achieve the highest score. If you are unfortunate enough to have experienced flappy bird then you will know the power of this competitive drive!
We have applied this to Vizibl by starting work on a value tracker feature which will allow us to assign value scores to projects in Vizibl. This will allow projects to be objectively compared and will drive value from the Vizibl platform as teams strive to meet targets and continue to improve on past value scores.
Lesson 4: Getting personal
Almost all games nowadays allow you to customise your character, with some games taking it as far as choosing what brand of underwear they wear. Now underwear might not be the key to driving further engagement but the customisation concept still applies. By allowing a more personal user experience the player has more attachment to the character and is more likely to come back to the game to improve and advance their character.
We have applied this to Vizibl by handing the profile personalisation over to the user. We have seamlessly integrated the input of personal details such as job title and profile picture into the sign up process in a brand new onboarding flow. With users now inputting personal details into their account they are more likely to engage as they begin to take pride in their account and the content that they input onto the Vizibl platform from it, thus generating more valuable content for their supplier relationships.
At the end of the day Vizibl is not a game, meaning gamification is not the be all and end all of the success of our product. However it is clear to see that by integrating gamification effectively into our user experience we have managed to, and will continue to, drive higher engagement with the app and therefore value beyond savings.