Jan 16

Gamification in UX: Why is it so Effective?


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Gamification in UX is exactly what it sounds like — incorporating game mechanics into your digital product! It’s steadily growing in popularity, but what makes it so powerful? And why are so many web/app designers rushing to gamify their interfaces?

Think back to elementary or middle school. Maybe you had a teacher that liked to play review games with the class before a test. Did they want you to cut loose and have fun? Or was there an ulterior motive?

The International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education shows that gamification increased retention by 12% and overall performance by 7%. If you add an incentive (tangible or intangible), you're giving someone extra motivation to participate and improve. In layman's terms, people are more receptive when they're having fun!

Gamification is a great way to ensure a pleasurable UX because the interface focuses on positive reinforcement. When used right, it holds the user’s attention, helps them understand the interface’s function, and boosts your brand’s identity and reputation.

Whether your product is learning-based or not, you can incorporate game mechanics into non-game products in subtle and clever ways. Let’s look at the concepts behind gamification in UX and how to use them to create a user-centered experience.


UX is all about the user's goals. If they are trying to learn a new skill, book a hotel room for the weekend, or browse your e-commerce store, they have goals they want to accomplish with your site. Interfaces with an excellent user experience are aware of the user's goals and have easy, creative ways to solve problems.

ClickUp task management
Source: ClickUp task management


Humans are competitive by nature. A UX that taps into our primal instinct is a surefire way to keep your user engaged. For some, competition motivates them because it satisfies a need to win. If they can win within your interface, they walk away feeling gratified. Healthy competition encourages users to improve and often excel past their initial goal.

Duolingo leaderboard
Source: Duolingo leaderboard


Motivation drives us to achieve our goals — and knowing we are progressing helps fuel that fire in us. It helps when users know they are on the right track to completing their goals. If they know they’re getting better each time they use your interface, they’ll feel inspired to come back.

MyFitnessPal progress chart
Source: MyFitnessPal progress chart


Gamification inspires loyalty and lets you give back to your users! Rewards (real or digital) are a tangible way to let users know they overcame a challenge or completed a goal. If you offer a reward, you give them the extra push to complete their journey and become repeat users.

Starbucks app
Source: Starbucks app for Google Play


Games transcend demographics by appealing to our natural desire to have fun! If you’re a 14-year-old boy playing Call of Duty or a 60-year-old woman playing Words with Friends, we all enjoy a good game. 

By building your site or mobile app around the concepts behind games, you elevate your user experience into something far more enjoyable.

When you’re planning out your interface, think about how you can incorporate game elements to make your experience interactive. It could be something as simple as giving your user a “Top Fan” badge or a challenge to unlock a new feature. 

Give your user something to aspire to while using your product!

Need some help gamifying your website and mobile app? Our apes are on standby and ready to play! Start a project with us today!

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