As learning development trail blazers, we are always looking to what’s hot in learning. And gamification has been hot for a few years now. But, it’s not exclusive to the learning and development industry and we are firm believers that inspiration abounds when you turn your eyes outside your own four walls.
So when we learned CEO and founder of Swibo, Ben Dunn, gamified physiotherapy, we were curious to find out what UX challenges his team from Vic University had to overcome. Luckily for us, Ben was forthcoming with those challenges and the lessons learnt can easily be applied to L&D.
4 UX tips for designing gamified learning
If you’re not the audience you’re designing for, get help
The team at Swibo first designed these physio games with the idea that athletes are competitive and game players, and they’ll like the challenge of the game. They quickly discovered it wasn’t that simple.
Without any success, gameplayers quickly lost interest in the game – it was too hard. “[The player] picked it up, played…and died. Played again…and died”.
Try as we might, understanding the audience goals and thought processes is tricky. Having a good relationship with our clients is key for understanding the learners within their organization. Like Swibo, we want our learners engaged, and challenged, but also feeling like they can achieve their goals.
Aesthetics really do matterYou could have the best idea in the world, but if people aren’t attracted to it, visually, it won’t take off. Ben spoke about the design they have for the Tilt Board. It is essentially a balancing board the gameplayer stands on. The Tilt Board had a lovely modern design of bamboo and chrome – or so they thought.
Swibo did product tests in china and quickly hit an aesthetic road block. “In China, wood equals cheap. Plastic is nice…which is of course the opposite to here in New Zealand.”
“And that hurt.”, he said. “I love this design - I sanded this wood down myself!”
At Kineo, we take aesthetics seriously, spending valuable time ensuring our visuals work for the purpose and for the target audience. That also means being flexible and willing to let go of a design that isn’t working.
You can’t please everyone, but you can tryThis is a tough one. Of course we want what we design and build to be perfect for everyone, but if you have a diverse user group, it’s a difficult task creating one thing that fits with them all. Unless you can make that thing adaptable and personalized, somehow. Swibo faced this issue too because physiotherapy covers all ages and backgrounds. Not just athletes are included in this user group, but elderly, children, business people, parents – the list goes on.
So how do you create gamification for such a diverse group? Personalization. Swibo decided to make allowances within the game to adapt difficulty levels for each player. In essence, as soon as the player began the game, algorithms were at play in the background measuring the difficulty level that this player can handle. The game would then adjust to that difficulty level.
The idea of personalized learning is gaining a bigger and bigger presence in L&D as it offers a tailored experience for each learner.
Make onboarding frictionlessLet’s face it – onboarding is not usually fun. And for Swibo, the process was a bit convoluted. Even though Swibo made it as simple as possible, as Ben said, you can’t please everyone. So if you’re wondering what a good onboarding process looks like, here are a few tips:
- The easiest onboarding seems to be when the learner doesn’t know they’re being onboarded.
- The best onboarding (or sign up) process often happens within the experience of doing the activity.
- If it can’t be integrated, a clear, simple, step by step process can work very well. Check out this article to see how AirBNB mastered the art of this sign up.
User experience is all about putting the user first. To do this, a great designer must check their ego at the door and embrace the learning opportunities! Sometimes, the best solutions come from the stickiest problems. At Kineo, we love a new challenge and we embrace the opportunity to launch an inventive solution.
If you’re in the Wellington area for tech-week 2018, you can attend Kineo’s talk and hear first-hand how Kineo tackles UX for the modern learner. RSVP here.