Actionable Gamification for Software Development

Gamification for Software Development
Implementing actionable gamification for software development can increase its adoption rate significantly. Actionable gamification design into products and services improves its usability, makes it fun and engaging while helping users accomplish their desired outcomes.

The gamification strategies have been long employed by gaming developers to hook their users. These developers leverage motivational psychology, triggers, hooks, neurobiology, tangible outcomes and technology to create a rich gamification experience.

Actionable gamification is used strategically by SaaS companies to build products that lure the users to their products again and again. It creates hooks, triggers and baits for users to keep coming back for e.g. Stackoverflow rewards its users for participation by creating leaderboards and incentivising contribution. Here’s a look at how actionable gamification for software development is used by companies to create sticky products and services: 

1. Actionable Triggers

Actionable gamification for software development employs triggers like emails, notifications and other means to increase the usage of the product. When users engage with the product, they are able to accomplish certain actions which are rewarding to them. Take an e.g. of the Bible app, it sends notifications to users for reading certain verses or thoughts of the day from the Bible. These notifications and emails sent to the users makes them use the app, increasing their engagement and retention.

Apps like Fitbit have turned simple activities like walking into an actionable pursuit by tracking the number of steps and encouraging the behaviour for the users to help them accomplish the outcomes they want. Nike used gamification to help over 5 million users to beat their personal fitness goals every day of the year. Companies are using gamification to increase learning, participation and adaptation of new technologies into their day to day work.

2. Understanding Users and their Goals
Gamification for Software Development

Gamification strategy doesn’t revolve around the product but its users. A deep rooted understanding of the users, their goals, environment, rewards, and behaviours helps companies meet their needs. The key is to build a software that rewards its users and provides them value for time spent using it. 

Gamification design for software uncovers answers to questions like:
What is the user trying to accomplish?
How is it done currently?
How is our method better than the existing one?
How are we reducing effort, time and improving ROI for doing things?
Is the flow clear, simple and easy for new users?
What are the key outcomes users are looking to achieve?
How can every interaction with the software provide value for the users to achieve their key outcomes?

Good gamification strategies evolve with the needs of the users and provide them the tools for achieving what they want. Users receive feedback on using the product and directions to accomplish their goals. 

3. Ownership

Ownership is one of the key motivators in gamification design. Whether it is enterprise software or social media sites, users are driven by things they own and control. The gamification strategies are aimed at creating an ownership of processes, projects and tasks for the users. For e.g. when a project deadline is approaching, the concerned tasks are sent to the respective owners with required deliverables and schedules. The proactive engagement drives user behaviour and helps them achieve their intended goals. 

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn also provide users with incentives like Friends, followers, connections, likes, retweets etc. The users create their own virtual world and feel like owners of their space. When users spend time and efforts on these platforms,  they value it highly and also develop a sense of ownership. 

4. Achievement Symbols
Actionable Gamification for Software Development

Achievement symbols are akin to the rewards for the users. These are the badges of recognition that users receive upon using the platform. Even retailers like Starbucks have used achievement symbols to great effect for building loyalty programs. The Starbucks app rewards users with stars for every order they place. The points can then be redeemed by users for free stuff from Starbucks.

Achievement symbols encourage the users to participate and incentivise them. On forums like Quora, users get rewards for posting answers. These users are featured among the top read authors on the platform.

The achievement symbols act as drivers of specific behaviours from users. The users often receive congratulatory messages when they complete certain actions. For e.g. when a user signs up on a product, they receive congratulatory messages with onboarding tips. When the users complete their profile details or any other actions, they get messages to make them feel they’ve accomplished something important. It drives higher engagement, repeat usage and makes the users feel good. Achievement symbols reinforce the users to do what they have been doing.

5. The Alfred Effect

The Alfred effect is when a product or service is tailored to the specific needs of the users to the extent that they cannot imagine using another replacement for it. Today, users have so many choices whether it is ecommerce apps, retail stores, enterprise software etc. Hyper personalisation and recommendation is a gamification technique that makes users’ lives easy. 

The personalisation of the contextual settings, user preferences, needs and key outcomes drives product interactions.  When a user feels that the system is fully customised to his needs, it creates higher engagement and loyalty with the product. For e.g. your food ordering app already knows your choice of restaurants, categories of foods and beverages etc. It recommends you food based on your behaviours, usage, time of the day etc. 

Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc all use personalisation to create a more engaging user experience. Enterprise software products are becoming more contextual and drive actions from users that will help them accomplish key results. For e.g. importing or linking bank statements to generate accounting reports that need to be submitted to your management. 

6. Game Objectives
Actionable Gamification for Software Development

Gamification works best when it helps companies reach goals they are aspiring for. The game objectives are the business metrics that need to be embedded into the product design. It creates tiggers, desired actions, incentives and rewards to fulfill the game objectives. These game objectives are the business metrics that need to be reached.

The game objectives for a SaaS product could be as follows:

Increase sign-ups of the product
Increase average user session time for the product
Increase email subscriptions
Increase the number of users who complete trainings
Reduce the number of customers who leave the product
Help users to take actions that unlock value for them to complete their tasks
Sending emails for acknowledging key user achievements

Increase the number of customers who can achieve their key outcomes using the product
Study user behaviour and create feedback loops for improving the product

SaaS companies use these gamification objectives to build better products for their customers. The emphasis is on building things that can assist their customers to achieve the functional outcomes they’re looking for. For e.g. if a customer is looking to automate bookkeeping, good accounting software will help the customer to do that effortlessly.

Actionable gamification for software development helps companies improve their product design and help their customers achieve their primary outcomes.


Kreyon Systems has in-depth expertise in using gamification for software product development. If you have any queries for us or need help in building SaaS products, please reach out to us.

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