Gamification: The Importance of Motivation in Web Design


Julie is a Digital Marketing Instructor at GA in San Francisco. This piece originally appeared on her blog

What motivates humans to perform certain actions? Well, for one it may be money, status, or maybe passion. The list goes on and on.

Why is it so important that your website or app motivates users? Well simply put, there will really be no reason for someone to use it otherwise. I recently went to a website that asked me to download their app to give feedback. What is in it for me? What will I get in return for my efforts? Why would I take the time to go to the app
store, input my password, and waste storage on my iPhone for your app?

There is a reason why the concept of “gamification” has become so popular. Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

The gaming industry knows how to motivate users and keep them engaged. There is a reason why your boyfriend will spend hours trying to get to the next level of that new video game. There is a reason why everyone on the bus is heads down on their phone playing Candy Crush Saga or Flappy Bird.

There are many features within games that keep users engaged. Progress is showed, rewards are given, and results are achievable.

Foursquare is a perfect example. Before Foursquare, the founder created a very similar service called Dodgeball. Google actually bought Dodgeball and then abandoned it a few years later due to lack of use. Users didn’t see the point of the service and checking in somewhere.

So what made one site work and another fail? Foursquare introduced rewards to keep users motivated. Users would receive badges for their continued usage and the title of the “mayor” of a specific venue they frequented the most often. Sometimes they even got discounts or tangible rewards. This simple addition of adding a reward system made foursquare much more addictive then its previous iteration of Dodgeball.

So next time you are designing your website or app, ask yourself: Is there a reason why a user would want to do that? If you can’t think of one, it may be time to evaluate how you could motivate a user or decide if this feature is really necessary.

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Julie Krafchick is a designer focused on visual design, user experience, and technology. She also has a background in digital marketing and consumer internet products. Julie is originally from Boston, MA and currently resides in San Francisco, CA where she teaches at GA