Today’s user demands more from your app or site than an address, a shopping cart, and a coupon code. Users want more than information, products, and services; they want to have fun. “Play is inherent in how we learn as children, and how we solve problems creatively throughout life,” says Brella Senior Graphic Designer Vitus Wong. “If a business takes the time to create a delightful, playful experience for you, then you know they actually care.”
A playful user experience (UX) can help draw people to your site or app, and encourage them to stick around once they are there.
Games are a great option to provide a playful experience, while driving users towards an end goal. Consider “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing” (free version available here), the undisputed queen of typing tutelage since 1987. By combining games with exercises and tests, Mavis Beacon has kept users engaged in learning how to type for nearly thirty years.
“You need more than just a leaderboard, fun noises, and a few buttons,” says Anthony Biondi, Brella’s Director of Development. “You have to do your research, to learn what your audience wants. Data makes decisions.”
So a well-executed game needs clear objectives. If it doesn’t provide a path to the message you want to deliver, then you’ve misspent your development time. A playful UX also needs an intuitive and easy to understand interface—if it requires a manual, something’s gone off. Vitus offers this simple litmus test: “If your kid can figure out the UI, then you’ve done a good job.”
Even if your target audience isn’t looking for games, they may still want to play. Think about what it was like on the playground when you were a kid. Some kids wanted to play kickball or four square. Some preferred to fiddle in the sandbox, play on the jungle gym, or just check out what everybody else was up to.
Do the users you are looking to reach fall into the latter category? Then you’ll want to deliver something more exploratory, rather than task-based. Give them a place to poke around, things to see, and buttons to push. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A little bit of color and motion can go a long way. For example, take a look at Swackett. The makers of this tasty little app combine fashion and function with weather reports that tell you what to wear. Colorful visuals, trivia questions, and lifestyle tips make for a fun user experience.
When you launch a website or an app, your UX is the face you show the world. Getting your message out is your number one goal, but doing so in a fun, playful way will set you off from the crowd and draw the attention you need.