Points, Badges, Leaderboards – Part 3 of 3

The past two weeks we’ve discussed how behavioral design goes beyond the widely used points, badges and leaderboards.

We discussed how dots and badges can be a powerful addition to your design If used correctly. This week we’ll talk about how to make leaderboards (GT #3) a more engaging experience when implemented correctly.

The most common mistake when designing leaderboards

Leaderboard (GT #3) is a popular game technology that is often implemented. the two in obvious gamification (where the user acknowledges that they are playing a game), and in implicit gamification (Design that skillfully uses gamification techniques in the user experience).

The most common mistake when designing a leaderboard is creating a basic leaderboard. These leaderboards show where the user ranks in a list from first to last. These leaderboards are really motivating, and the top 5-10% will be competing with each other, often working hard to climb higher. However, the middle and lower level usually get frustrated, as they feel that there is no point in trying to get to the top.

Urgent Optimism – Why do you need it

The leaderboard should make all users feel Urgent optimism. This term is from Jane McGonigal (watch the TED talk). Urgent optimism is the desire to act immediately to face any obstacle, along with belief in having a reasonable chance of success.
When you have multiple users in the leaderboard, most users will see that their ranking doesn’t make sense, even if it’s a high percentage. (For example, ranking 582 out of 6,024 is impressive as a percentage (top 10%), but it doesn’t seem like an achievement.) In this scenario, you can choose to only show your users.

The user must feel that if he tries, he can reach the win-win situation, and that there is an urgency for that he feels that he has to act now. If a user sees that they have 500 points, but users in the top ten all have 1,000,000 points or more, they will have no incentive, they are frustrated. The user will feel they can never catch up (there is no pressing optimism) and they will give up.

Leaderboard designs that work

small leaderboard Show user’s ranking in Areaor between their friends (A social leaderboard). These types of design will instill a sense of optimism (User can try and they will then have a reasonable chance to reach the top of the leaderboard) In addition to feeling urgency (How do I lose from my mother?).

Check your leaderboard refreshing. In the event that the leaderboard is in place for a longer period of time, new users who are just starting out will get confused because they are unable to catch up and will give up.

Top ten users like their status, so show their name. But their stats don’t appear to be demoralizing other users. Instead, just show the user stats themselves and the five users above and below them.

The really important thing, is that the user has the motivation to climb higher than those above them in the leaderboard (win condition), and not let those below them catch up.

When designing leaderboards, make sure that users only see what is meaningful to them. Click to tweet

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