Gamification vs Invisible UI – Designing the right UX for your app

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One of the most critical aspects of building an application is designing the User Experience – (UX) not just the look and feel, but the overall experience of actually using application, from the graphic interface to the type of interaction that is required between user / device / application / external devices and so on.

Many applications live or die, based not on their own merits or usefulness, but on how the end user experience was conceived in the first place.

Currently, there are essentially two main schools of thought regarding the overall User Experience: the Gamification approach, and the Invisible User Interface (UI) style.

What exactly are these approaches, and which one might be right for the particular app you´re developing?

Gamification is the inclusion of game-like elements in an otherwise game-unrelated environment.

These elements would include challenges, rewards, progress tracking, unblocking access to new levels and features, and so on.

So – you might have a calorie counting / exercise app or an expense tracker that rewards your consistency and regularity in inputting the relevant data – awarding merit badges and other achievement awards ; ranking you in a user leaderboard, among other strategies.

This type of approach inherently draws attention to itself – the goal here is to make the user interact with the interface of the app from an entertainment, game-like perspective – which is quite the opposite from the Invisible UI paradigm.

In this approach, the goal is to take the user from point A (using the app) to point B(end result of using the app) in a very Euclidian fashion – taking the fastest route between these two points in the most straightforward manner, eliminating any unnecessary interactions in the process.

Using this approach, one might find a solution such as Uber adopted: where instead of inserting the credit card data that will be used for payments (first name, last name, digits of credit card, CVV, address, etc.), one takes a photo of the credit card and it´s all done!!

Just like that, a number of interactions required to move the user from point A (using the app) – to point B (registering a credit card – the end result intended for that specific context ) were eliminated – which is the underlying principle to this design philosophy.

So which is best?

The answer – as for most things in life, is: it depends.

If you´re developing an app with a strong community based component, easy to tie with leisure and entertainment, where it is beneficial to provide a user experience that draws attention to itself – then by all means, try to integrate some gamification elements.

If, on the other hand, you´re designing a consumer / service oriented app, where the end goal is more important to the user than the way to get there (I´m guessing no one would like an app that opens up the garage door, but you have to beat a mini-game first…) then probably the Invisible UI is the way to go.

Whatever you choose – remember that both are valid and worthy strategies, it all comes down to the specifics of the app you´re developing: what, for whom and to what end purpose.

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Invisible UI:




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