Book Image

Gamification for Product Excellence

By : Mike Hyzy, Bret Wardle
Book Image

Gamification for Product Excellence

By: Mike Hyzy, Bret Wardle

Overview of this book

Are you trying to build a product that your audience loves to use? Game mechanics and psychology have been used for decades to increase engagement, convert users to buyers, and increase audience retention. Learning when and where to implement these tools can take your product from the middle of the pack to a must-have! This book begins by helping you get a clear understanding of gamification, its key concepts, and how product managers can leverage it to drive user engagement in non-game scenarios. As you progress through the chapters, you’ll learn different gamification frameworks, mechanics, and elements with structured ways to implement them while designing a successful gamification strategy tailored to a business case. You'll get a chance to implement and test the designed strategy prototype with the users for feedback. You’ll also discover how to sell your strategy to stakeholders to get full buy-in from the top down, along with how to gamify your product development process to drive innovation, engagement, and motivation. By the end of this book, you'll be primed to harness the power of gamification, and will have benefited from proven case studies, best practices, and tips, ensuring you are well-equipped to apply gamification principles to your work as a product development professional.
Table of Contents (15 chapters)

Gamification can give “nudges” to desired behaviors

The trifecta of the product development process is always present when starting a project. How do we build something that solves a pain point for the user, makes financial sense for the business, and is technically feasible? Concerning the first two, you may have to design your product in a way that gives subtle “nudges” to get the user to do something that will solve their pain point or make sense for the business.

Nudge theory is a concept that has gained popularity in recent years, especially in the fields of economics, psychology, and public policy. The theory’s basis is that nudges can influence people to make better decisions through small, subtle stimuli rather than coercion or outright mandates.

The origins of the nudge theory can trace back to the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler and legal scholar Cass Sunstein, who wrote a book in 2008 called Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. In the book, Thaler and Sunstein argue that people often make poor decisions due to cognitive biases and heuristics. You can design to overcome these biases through small changes in the choice architecture or how people present choices.

One of the critical concepts in nudge theory is the idea of default options. Default options refer to the option presented to people if they do not actively make a choice. By changing the default option, such as making the more beneficial plan the default, a designed nudge pushes people toward making better decisions without thinking about it actively. For example, if I asked a person to choose between two types of insurance plans, they may default to the plan that requires the least effort to sign up for or the plan that is presented to them first.

Another important concept in nudge theory is framing. Framing refers to the way in which choices are presented to people and how this can influence their decision-making. For example, if a marketing manager runs a campaign for a product as “healthy” rather than “low in calories,” people may be more likely to choose it because it appeals to their desire for health and wellness.

Nudge theory applies in various contexts, from public policy to healthcare to marketing. In public policy, governments have used nudges to encourage people to make healthier choices, such as by placing healthy food options at eye level in vending machines or by adding warning labels to cigarettes. In healthcare, nudges can encourage patients to take their medication as prescribed or to schedule important screenings and checkups.

In marketing, companies have used nudges to influence consumer behavior, such as by offering free trials or using social proof to demonstrate the popularity of a product. For example, a company may show how many people have purchased a product or how many positive reviews it has received to nudge potential customers toward purchasing.

One of the critical advantages of nudge theory is that it is non-invasive and respects people’s autonomy. Rather than telling people what to do or forcing them to make confident choices, nudges make it easier for people to make better decisions. However, some critics of the nudge theory argue that it can be manipulative and that people may only sometimes be aware of the nudges driving them to take specific actions.

In conclusion, nudge theory is a powerful concept that can improve decision-making and behavior in various contexts. By understanding the cognitive biases and heuristics that people are prone to and using small, subtle nudges to encourage better choices, product managers can create more engaging, effective, and user-friendly products. However, it is essential to be mindful of the ethical implications of nudging and to ensure that people’s autonomy is continually respected.

Pokémon Go (2016)

Pokémon is one of the most well-known franchises of all time, with a trading card game (TCG) and multiple video games, TV series, and movies. But when Pokémon Go was released for mobile devices in the summer of 2016, things changed. What was once focused on gamers and anime fans was now being introduced to millions of new users. The game went on to be one of highest grossing mobile games of all time, capturing both long-time Pokémon players and a new audience and generation as well.

Give Pokémon Go a try. If you have an account from that magical summer of 2016, dust it off! If not, make a new account and play through your first couple of level-ups! Pay attention to the nudges given to get you to spend money in the game. Although you can play and enjoy Pokémon Go without spending any money at all, there are definitely subtle pain points that encourage you to drop a few dollars here and there to power up your experience. Pay attention to a few specific mechanics such as Raids, Egg Hatching, and both Item and Pokémon Storage.

A product manager can use gamification to create nudges encouraging users to make confident choices or take specific actions. For example, a product manager might use a progress bar or a completion meter to nudge users to complete a particular task or achieve a specific goal within the product. This nudge can create a sense of accomplishment and progress, increasing user engagement and motivation.

Another way a product manager can use gamification for nudges is through rewards. By rewarding users for taking certain actions or completing certain tasks, a product manager can create a positive reinforcement loop that encourages users to continue engaging with the product. For example, a product manager might offer badges, points, or other virtual rewards for completing specific tasks or achieving certain milestones within the product.

A product manager can also use gamification to create social nudges that leverage the power of social influence to encourage users to engage with the product. For example, a product manager might use leaderboards or social sharing features to encourage users to compete with friends or share their achievements on social media. This type of nudge can tap into users’ desire for social validation and create a sense of community and connectedness around the product.

In addition, a product manager can use gamification to create feedback nudges that give users real-time feedback on their actions and choices within the product. For example, a product manager might use a pop-up message or a visual cue to let users know when they have made a good choice or achieved a certain milestone within the product. This type of nudge can create a sense of immediate feedback and reinforcement, which can increase user engagement and motivation.

Overall, gamification can be a powerful tool for product managers to create nudges that encourage users to engage with their products meaningfully. By leveraging game mechanics and elements, product managers can create a more engaging, motivating, and rewarding UX that drives user behavior and delivers business value.

Let’s open PMM back up and apply nudge theory to a feature.

As the product manager of PMM, your new investors gave you the goal of 50,000 posts on the app each hour. You want to “nudge” users to post more, so you set up a leaderboard in the app. Users can now see who posts the most by day, week, month, and year. Leaderboards are motivating because they tap into several vital psychological drivers. One of the main drivers is the desire for social comparison and recognition. When people see their name on a leaderboard, they feel a sense of accomplishment and recognition for their achievements, which can be a powerful motivator. In addition, leaderboards provide a sense of competition, which can motivate people who are naturally competitive or enjoy a challenge.

Another psychological driver that makes leaderboards effective is the desire for status and achievement. Seeing their progress tracked and measured against others can create a sense of accomplishment and a desire to continue improving. Leaderboards can be particularly effective when users work toward a specific goal or objective, such as the elite product manager status in PMM.

Finally, leaderboards can tap into people’s intrinsic motivation to succeed and improve. When people see how their posts contribute to their progress and success, they are more likely to continue working toward their goals. This social motivator can be particularly effective when combined with other motivational elements, such as rewards and feedback, which are already actively built into the product.

Overall, leaderboards are a powerful tool for nudging users and driving engagement in PMM. By tapping into psychological drivers such as social comparison, competition, and achievement, product managers can create a more engaging and motivating experience for their users.