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I have suddenly realized that in my work I do usability and conversion optimization, but there is no experience in the sites I build. They are quite clear, simple, usable and business efficient, but, there is no emotion in them, there is no soul and no wow-effect.

I'm working on a computer online store interface and wonder what kind of interactive experience I can bring to the clear and simple site. The site is geek-oriented and providing a lot of customization and a lot of useful functionality

In the site I have step-by-step computer builder, so the first idea was to show the user the time it took him to build a computer and provide some gifts to the fastest PC builders each month.

I'm afraid that some people will spend more than 40 minutes searching for the parts and building their PC, so I wonder if it will it be confusing to see something like:

Congratulations! You built your computer in 43 minutes 16 seconds.

Is there any sense in this? Are there any other ideas you can advise?

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I think that (having in mind the target group) it's a great idea for a site like this to be gamificated this way. You could also keep it minimal in ZX-Spectrum-or-so style, etc. However, I cannot see a particular UX question here, rather some request for ideas or inspiration. –  Dominik Oslizlo Jun 13 '13 at 8:20
    
"clear and simple" is arguably already an excellent UX –  DA01 Jul 9 '13 at 20:05
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1 Answer

You can start by offering multiple tracks for the users:

  • Quickly build a Computer
  • Build a budget Computer
  • Build a performance Computer, etc.

You can create your own guidelines as to what aspect will be awarded how many points in each track to balance the things around. Have a limited set of parameters which you will measure, and keep the parameters visible to the user so they know what they are aiming for. This also helps you motivate the user in any particular direction, incentivize particular behaviors. Mind you, the formula might not be straightforward and will need tweaking around.

You can use the track records to give out Experience points to the users and let them level up. You can use a tiered leveling system where there is a single leveling system (from novice to super-user or something) and then you have 'specializations' which are basically the tracks you offer. You can create a leaderboard from the experience points, and if you do not want to do a traditional one, you can do something different like:

  • Contextual leaderboard: you only see a few people who are ahead of you and behind you. (Works well if the community is small and people know eachother)
  • Temporal leaderboard: the leaderboard is reset every couple weeks/month. The top players are then archived somewhere else for record viewing or something.

Finally, for the gifting mechanism, you can have 'events' where you set a criteria and people work towards that. Say, 'build a performance computer under 1200$' of something. Try to create a level playing field and keep changing the theme of the event so people with different specializations can be accommodated across events if not in every event.

Goal of the gamification should be allow enough options so the user does not feel restricted, yet, keep enough rules to allow them to visible progress in the system.

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I liked the idea 'build a performance computer under 1200$', but how to evaluate performance of the computer? What might be the criteria of performance computer? –  Oleg Jun 13 '13 at 13:18
    
@Oleg That's what you, as a subject matter expert, need to decide. Have various parameters like battery life, graphics benchmark, screen size, screen resolution, weight, etc. be weighed and then score all the submissions based on the weighted score. –  rk. Jun 13 '13 at 13:21
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