Moving users from ‘Can do’ to ‘Will do’ with Persuasive Design

A good product design can cause a paradigm shift in user experience. Designers need to study a user’s emotions while interacting with a product’s interface. This kind of design is not for mere usability; it goes beyond. It is not just functional; it evokes emotions, motivates, engages, and creates “joy of use”.

For example, out of 10 sites that help you make an airline booking, all 10 can be said to fulfill the usability criterion (they have all the necessary functionality to let you make the booking successfully), but only one or two make the experience pleasurable. The ones with a persuasive design strategy will try to generate and sustain good feelings, maybe even put a smile on the user’s face, and bring delight as they buy tickets. Users will choose these sites over others and praise them to others. Users have been persuaded to move from a ‘can do’ situation to a ‘will do’ choice.

With persuasive design, focus on function in design is NOT enough. Design needs to evoke and utilize emotions. The basis of persuasive design is putting user needs in an hierarchy and addressing them with appropriate design tools, one of which is gamification. The key goal of gamification is persuasion, by adding game elements like challenges, leaderboards, points.

Gamification and Game Mechanics

Using game theories in areas not otherwise associated with games is often referred to as gamification.

It uses people’s natural desire for competition, achievement, feedback, and status to make tasks meaningful in any context. In the most simple form it rewards people for completing tasks and encourages competition by displaying the achievements.

It uses mechanics like Points, Levels, Challenges, Virtual Goods, and Leaderboards  to fulfill human desires like getting rewards, achieving some status, self expression, competing, and so on, while using the product. You can design a gamification strategy by selecting a mix of the mechanics and the corresponding desires.

For example let us look at how Linkedin uses various game mechanics that fulfill desires and also leads to task completion. It displays all statistics graphically to enhance the impact.

The key goal of Linkedin is to collect as much information from users  about themselves via profiles and make the network stronger and wider with more connections. Some examples of game elements to achieve this in Linkedin are:

Case Study: Gamifying a Productivity Tracking tool (perceived as Spyware by employees) into a Work Behaviour Evaluation & Modification tool

We applied the principles of gamification to one of our Enterprise products that needed a perception makeover.

The Brief

The product, an innovative, patent-pending software is an analytics & productivity audit tool designed to measure employees’ work output. It gives managers a clear record of productivity of employees (time spent in office v/s time spent on real work).

The client wanted to promote this tool as an enabler to boost productivity at work and help people self monitor their progress, rather than as an application used by the organization to spy on its employees. The requirements were:

  1. Convert the management-centric tool to a people-centric approach
  2. Make it a personal evaluation for employees, than a mere manager productivity audit
  3. Push for improvement in work habits by creating data-driven challenges
  4. Humanize the tool by encouraging voluntary user participation and spark motivation with competition

 The Game Plan

We decided to transform the product by using gamification as its core.

Our task was to first analyze the areas where we could seek both the employees’ involvement and motivate improvement. We identified various quantifying elements and narrowed down to ‘Focus’ and ‘Distraction’ as the key measurable and attainable goals, around which a set of challenges were further built. Focus was rewarded and Distraction was presented as a challenge to be overcome.

Following are some of the elements of gamification that we used to make ‘productivity tracking’ an enjoyable and motivating personal experience.

1. Simple, Measurable Challenges

Employees undertook easy game-like challenges that gradually worked towards making them more focused and reduce distractions at work. Depending on their progress, they had the choice of aiming for bigger challenges.

2. Game Levels

Mechanics of a typical game scenario where users have Lives/Chances to finish a level, were implemented to encourage consistent participation, even in times of failure. Levels were used to encourage users to progress incrementally within the game and develop ‘work-habits’.

3. Instant feedback for Self Analysis

Instead of a generic record of performance, users received more personalized messages that timely motivated and nudged them to self-analyze their performance and aim to do better.

4. Competitiveness, Collaboration and Rewards

Individual level ranking within teams using leaderboards were built as a key driver for participation. We also added rewards for collaboration on a team level to make users help rank up their teams on an organizational level. A ‘points mechanism’ was implemented as a unit to measure a user’s achievements in relation to others. Whereas a set of interesting badges were created to reward achievements.

5. Intrinsic Motivators matter the most

Any good gamified system needs a layer of strong intrinsic motivators at its foundation. We focused on the intrinsic desire of the employees to better one’s work habits, improve productivity and ultimately encourage better work-life-balance.

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