Gamification = User Engagement

In my previous post I discussed circumstance analysis, how it centers around decision-making, and how it works hand-in-hand with task analysis to bring product ideas to the table. In this post I will discuss gamification and how it centers around user engagement. To bring context to these concepts I have previously presented a list that entails the entire Innovation Design Model. Here is the list once more:

  • (Ta) Task analysis centers around what makes sense.
  • (Ca) Circumstance analysis centers around decision-making.
  • (Ga) Gamification analysis centers around user engagement.
  • (Ia) Information architecture centers around what [your product] looks like.
  • (Id) Interaction design centers around what [your product] feels like.
  • (Ua) Usability is concerned with what [your product] does.

Let’s begin with the gamification definition. (Ga) Gamification analysis discovers the value of users and their activities as they relate to your product. It creates value systems that engage users to your product and extends those value systems to your broader set of customers. This definition tells us that we’re looking to create value systems from user activities and connections to others. The following UX activities are specifically designed to create those value systems:

(Am) Activity mapping focuses on mapping each activity to individual users, then mapping this node to other users and their activities. This exposes high-value activities that require your focus.

(Sm) Social mapping is concerned with understanding the social relationships between users. It maps out what Malcolm Gladwell calls mavens, connectors, and salesmen. Once these users are identified they are connected with user activities. The goal here is to find connections between these users and the high-value activities found in activity mapping.

(Sc) Social communications extract the various areas where users connect to each other and your product. They also identify the communications technology most suited in those connections. It may be that the communication requires a tweet, or that it requires an email or a phone call. The technology required may not exist, which gives you a great opportunity for innovation.

(Lbm) Leaderboard mapping outlines the appropriate mechanisms that engage your users at every level. These mechanisms are derived from your understanding of user activities, social mapping, and social communications–you can think of them as gives and gets.

(Sv) Social value is a methodical way of measuring the value that the user’s activities bring to the product. It combines the user’s own activity value and adds the extended value through the user’s social map. The most valuable user is usually not the most visible.

The Gamification Analyst works through UX activities to discover user actions–gives, to match those user actions with something in return–gets, and to understand how each user is connected to larger groups. The Gamification Analyst then separates users to understand how they influence and create value within the product and within each other. I like to use Malcolm Gladwell’s influencer descriptions to separate users:

  • Mavens are the “cool” people who we rely on for new information or “the new.”
  • Connectors are people who know many and who like to introduce them to each other.
  • Salesmen persuade others.

Separating users to identify activity behaviors helps you understand the value of gives. It’s here that you can determine what gets are appropriate to offer users so that they come back.

Through Gamification Analysis you will know which users create value for your product and which connections to other users expand upon that value. Based on that knowledge you can devise appropriate mechanisms to support an engagement strategy centered on a clear picture of product growth. This engagement strategy, circumstance analysis, and task analysis stabilize product ideas so that Information Architects can create structure and organization around your product’s user experience.

In the next post I will discuss Information Architecture and how it centers around what your product looks like.