The Infrastructure Triangle
Commitment and consistency
~ The 10 most general principles for interaction design. They are called “heuristics” because they are more in the nature of rules of thumb than specific usability guidelines. ~
1. Visibility of system status. The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
2. Match between system and the real world. The system should speak the users’ language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
3. User control and freedom. Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked “emergency exit” to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
4. Consistency and standards. Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
5. Error prevention. Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place. Either eliminate error-prone conditions or check for them and present users with a confirmation option before they commit to the action.
6. Recognition rather than recall. Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.
7. Flexibility and efficiency of use. Accelerators — unseen by the novice user — may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
8. Aesthetic and minimalist design. Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors. Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
10. Help and documentation. Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user’s task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.
Define business objectives. Why are you gamifying? How do you hope to benefit your business, or achieve some other goal such as motivating people to change their behavior? The first written assignment focused on this step of the process, so you may wish to look back on your earlier submission and the peer assessments for guidance. As you state your objectives, emphasize the end goal or goals of your gamified design rather than detailing the means through which you’ll achieve this goal. Basically, if your gamified system does what you intend, what specific positive results will it generate for your organization?
Delineate target behaviors. What do you want your players to do? And what are the metrics that will allow you to measure them? These behaviors should promote your business objectives, although the relationship may be indirect. For example, your business goal might be to increase sales, but your target behavior could be for visitors to spend more time on your website. As you describe the behaviors, be sure to explain how they will help your system achieve its objectives. The metrics should in some fashion provide feedback to the players, letting them know when they are successfully engaging in the intended behaviors.
Describe your players. Who are the people who will be participating in your gamified activity? What is their relationship to you? For example, are they prospective customers, employees at your organization, or some other community? And what are they like? You can describe your players using demographics (such as age and gender), psychographics (such as their values and personalities), Bartle’s player types, or some other framework. You should show that you understand what sorts of game elements and other structures are likely to be effective for this population. For example, you might discuss whether a more competitive or cooperative system would be better for this player community.
Devise your activity loops. Explore in greater detail how you will motivate your players using engagement and progression loops. First, describe the kinds of feedback your system will offer the players to encourage further action, and explain how this feedback will work to motivate the players. (Remember: rewards are only one kind of feedback.) Second, how if at all will players progress in your system? This includes how the system will get new players engaged, and how it will remain interesting for more experienced players.
Don’t forget the fun. Although more abstract than some of the other elements, ensuring that your gamified system is fun remains as important as the other aspects. In order to fully explore this aspect of the design process, consider how your game would function without any extrinsic rewards. Would you say it was fun? Identify which aspects of the game could continue to motivate players to participate even without rewards.
Deploy the appropriate tools. By this point, you’ve probably identified several of the game elements and other specifics of your gamified system. If you haven’t already, you should explain in detail what your system would look like. What are some of the game elements involved and what will the experience be like for the players? What specific choices would you make in deploying your system? For example, you might discuss whether the gamified system is to be experienced primarily on personal computers, mobile devices, or some other platform. You might also describe what feedback, rewards, and other reinforcements the players could receive. Finally, think about whether you’ve tied your decisions back to the other five steps in the process, especially the business objectives.