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One of the key things that I consider when looking at anything in gamification is how feedback is going to be handled. For me, feedback is anything that gives a user some understanding of progress and achievement. This can be something as simple as a message that says “You have completed the survey”, to a full virtual economy working with points, badges, levels, leaderboards, trading, prizes etc! They are all just there to keep the user informed.
I feel there are three important aspects that need to be considered when designing feedback and rewards for any system though. It should be – cue another mnemonic – RIM…..!
Relevant, In-Time and Meaningful
The feedback needs to be relevant to and in context with the activity. If you are clicking a like button – is it relevant to suddenly be given a certificate by post? Would it not be more relevant to have a little “thank you” or a point added to an experience system?
Does the feedback need to be instantaneous, or can it wait? For instance, in a game, you get several types of feedback. When you miss time your jump, you die. The feedback is immediate – it has to be! If you gain experience, you often get a little notification on the screen – however, if you are in the middle of a frantic battle, is that actually of use to you. A sudden light flashing up telling you you have levelled up, maybe just distracting enough to get you killed! It would surely be better to wait a moment until the fighting has died down a little and then give the feedback. That, or wait until the level has ended and then congratulate and give the feedback.
In gamification, this could be seen as using a monthly leaderboard rather than an hourly one. If people are not going to be checking hourly, why feedback hourly? Judge the best and most impactful time to give feedback and rewards.
This is the most important category for me. Many systems reward everything. Clicking, registering, logging in. Soon you have awards and badges for everything you have done. They become meaningless very fast as they took nothing to achieve! Use feedback and especially rewards to celebrate and record actual achievement. Then it will have some meaning to the user. If everyone can have the “I clicked like 10 times” sticker, it means nothing. However, the “I just scored 100% on my exam” sticker is harder to get. If you then make that reward transferable to real life – so maybe that sticker gets them priority somewhere else, for instance, it has true meaning to them.
The ever awesome Richard Wallace has suggested that personal/personalised should be a fourth key consideration. Taking a quote from his comment below (which I have included below I full, along with our twitter conversation).
personalization is more based on social (personal, peer or inspirational) relationships and/or personal preferences (information, trends, interests etc).
I agree this could really help any reward or feedback. As such and after much thought and conversation, I leave this here as a bonus for you. For me, this is all part of meaning, but I am definitely not always right, so here is the full comment and subsequent conversation. Thanks Rich.
Andrzej, I agree with the feedback you’ve suggested but I’d like to suggest one more.
Personalised – I think this differs from the above as I would define it in relation to things that relate the individual (or their role) either socially or preferentially. For example: That fellow team members (or friends) are participating the same activity, show their progress or actions etc in comparison with a desire an action to simulate similar behaviors.
I believe this differs from relevance as you’ve defined that as context with the activity, whereas I think personalization is more based on social (personal, peer or inspirational) relationships and/or personal preferences (information, trends, interests etc).
Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage)
@rich_wallace got me thinking now. Maybe personal could sit connecting relevant and meaning in the image. Mmmm.
@daverage obviously in the latter trying to interpret the user experience but also for the business goals….
Andrzej Marczewski (@daverage)
@rich_wallace yeah. Tough one. Still not sure of it is right to separate it from meaningful. Personal is not always practice ;-S
@daverage but I think relational (social) is such a strong driver in most humans that it is almost a separate focus.