What can web application designers learn from the onboarding process of video games? This question was asked on Quora in 2010 and has had only one answer, but it's a good one and it remains especially pertinent for websites requiring an involved community for success—such as any type of website that relies on user-edited wikis or active message boards.
Here's what Dave Snider, designer at video game news and culture site, GiantBomb, had to say:
At GiantBomb, we launched a Quest system (essentially badging with multipart goals and an XP system) that provides a similar experience [as in RGP games], and for the most part it's been one of the more important things we've ever added to the site. We run new quest sets every week and even set a community goal (if 3,000 members finish this quest by X, we'll award X) that help organize users as a team. Here are a few examples of the impact of quests on our site.
1. By far, the hardest thing we ask users to do is contribute to the wiki. Some parts of the wiki, like adding release date information around games, is extremely boring to fill in. By adding quests with high goals (contribute 50 new release entries) we were able to see contributions improve 1000%. While this spike is always highest the week the quest is launched, it stays continually higher over the period since quests are always attainable.
2. We once had 6000 users watch a combined 60 mins of video over the course of one week around a certain game in order to complete a quest. Our members assumed it must be ad related, but we just wanted to focus on our great coverage of that game that week. For a site that puts out so much content every day, sometimes it's hard to find the really good stuff. Quests help us make sure they see us at our best.
3. Large community sites often don't have trouble getting contributed content, but instead have a larger problem of trying to float the quality content to the top. Look at YouTube and its thousands of worthless comments. We use quests to force our members to go out and rank their peers' reviews. Doing so drastically changed the chance you were going to find a quality user review while browsing the site. That benefit is self-replicating in that seeing quality reviews on a site makes you want to contribute your own, possibly a better one.
Right now we have a total of 195 quests that ask for a variety of goals to be hit. About half of them are created with the above situations in mind, that is... how can we harness our members passion into helping us organize the data they so rabidly create? They're also a lot of fun. I get caught up in them all the time and keeping ahead of the game is just part of our human nature.
Want to know more about making a good first impression? Read The First-Time User Experience: What Developers Need To Know.
[Image by Brad K. on Flickr]