Enterprise users just want to have fun!

Authors: Monica Granfield
Posted: Fri, June 28, 2013 - 11:27:35

The bounce of the screen on the iPhone is so much fun that new users often keep pulling the screen down again and again, just to see the action happen. Animation in UX design—it’s not only fun, it's functional! Motion graphics bring even more depth and life to an interface, and more and more great animation is being produced. It’s a good time to be an animator, as animation is no longer limited to games and is blooming right into our everyday UX world!

Gamification, another fun yet functional aspect of UX design, is gaining momentum too. Sites like LinkedIn make it fun to recommend a colleague and to chart and measure your own impact on the site. You can monitor how your skills are being measured by your connections, see how often others have viewed you, see how many times you have appeared in a search, and see the strength of your profile and where your connections are strongest. There is so much interesting, fun, and useful information to discover about your LinkedIn presence. 

In a newly released book on gamification, Gamification at Work: Designing Engaging Business Software, Janaki Mythily Kumar and Mario Herger explore the idea of gamification in business and in the enterprise in a refreshingly practical, yet fun and engaging way. They use a process called Player Centered Design, which incorporates the notion of engaging the user. Player Centered Design puts the player at the center of the design and development process and surrounds the user with the concepts of motivation, mechanics, and mission. Beyond that there are the concepts of monitor, measure, and manage. They get creative and challenge the idea that simply adding points and badges to business applications is not a way to gamify a product.

This has made me think of all the fun words that now reference the user experience: "games," "play," "engaging," and "fun." Wow, it sounds fantastic and very motivating; I want to use that product! However, in my many years of observing business users for research purposes and designing for the enterprise, never have I heard a user utter anything close to "I love this app, work is so much fun!" And I began to wonder, why not? 

Thinking back almost two decades ago now, there was actually one enterprise application that I worked on where one task in the experience was actually cool and fun. Even though this was a process manufacturing application, we were able to integrate UX that would engage and excite the user. Who would think anyone could have fun in this domain, but you can and we did.

I am wondering why we are not having more fun in the enterprise? I look around and I see technology that clearly provides great power and performance for graphics and animation, increased use of motion design, and now the idea of introducing gamification to the enterprise and business sector. With all this technology, there is no reason we can't build more engaging experiences. There is a way to make practical interactions fun and functional and there is no real great reason not to. Imagine a user going to define a lifecycle or a business process and being excited because it is easy, straightforward, and FUN! Imagine making the mundane just a bit enjoyable. 

Dana Chisnell discusses the idea of happiness in the UX Magazine article, "Beyond Frustration: Three Levels of Happy Design." She boils the idea of a "happy design" down into three concepts, mindfulness, flow, and meaning. Mindfulness is pleasing and predictive and builds awareness and positive emotion; flow is the idea of being so immersed in something that time flies and nothing else exists while engaged in the product; and meaning is the contribution and value that is added by using the product. She states that these are all interconnected and can be used to bring "happiness" to a user experience. These concepts nicely describe and make tangible the concept of a happy, pleasing, and engaging user experience. Rather than hearing users speak of an experience as frustrating, annoying, and confusing, we can move forward with these words to create a pleasing and exciting experience that allows users to easily and enjoyably reach their goals.

In its November 2012 press release, Gartner predicts that "by 2015, 40% of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations". In the same report, they also predict that "by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design." 

So the next time you begin working on a new enterprise-level design, don't forget to spread the joy and bring a little fun into the everyday for your users.

Posted in: on Fri, June 28, 2013 - 11:27:35

Monica Granfield

Monica Granfield is a user experience strategist at Go Design LLC.
View All Monica Granfield's Posts

Post Comment

No Comments Found