You may or may not have heard the term "Gamification" being used lately, but what exactly does it mean ? From Wikipedia :
Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used.
Simply, it means introducing elements into a website or application such as points, leader boards, rewards, ways to "level up", virtual currencies and so on. In the context of websites or blogs, you could reward people for taking actions - leaving a comment, sharing a piece of content. Its a way to encourage the activities you want your users to take. One example is reddit.com with their karma system, when you submit content and it receives upvotes, you gain karma. When you leave a comment people like, you can also receive upvotes and downvotes to increase your overall karma. They are basically encouraging people to use the site by rewarding them for the actions they want you to take.
In this article I will take a look at some websites and blogs that use this technique and then look at how you can use it on your WordPress site.
Examples of Gamification
Stack Overflow is a programming question and answer site, there is also a whole network of sites on other subjects now. It uses gamification in the form of user points, a reputation system and earnable badges.
Example of a users profile page :
The envato marketplaces use gamification for site members in the forms of reward badges. There is a big list of accomplishments for things like, contributing a blog post, winning a competition, becoming an elite author and so on.
There are badges for buyers to show how many items you've bought , badges for authors to show how many items you've sold and badges for affiliates to show how many customers you've referred. A few of my badges for referring customers :
Ive been a runner for around 5 years now and I credit part of that down to the Nike+ system. It monitors your runs - either by GPS on your iPhone or a gadget attached to your running shoes and records details about your runs on their website. Your profile shows all your runs, average speeds, total distance ran which corresponds to a color for yourself. You can set up challenges, take part in competitions - its very addictive. My profile page :
Foursquare is an app for phones that lets you "check in" to places in the read world using your phone's GPS - you earn rewards and badges for visiting different places, there are leaderboards where you can become the "mayor" of somewhere if you check in there the most. Foursquare have essentially gamified real life!
Free Gamification Systems and WordPress Plugins
If you want to add some form of gamification to your WordPress site, there are a few options at the moment which I will look at here.
Pre-designed loyalty plugin, engagement badges, quest images and real, tangible rewards. Start rewarding users for engaging with your site and sharing your content.
PunchTab is a loyalty program that's simple to install on your WordPress blog. As soon as it's installed, a rewards section or an achievement system will show up on your site. Your readers will be able to connect with Facebook and earn points and/or badges for their actions on your blog.
Punchtab (Free Plugin) »
Achievements for BuddyPress
Achievements for BuddyPress gives your community fresh impetus by promoting and rewarding social interaction with challenges, badges and points. For example, reward users for commenting on a blog post or uploading a picture to their profile.
CubePoints is a point management system designed for WordPress blogs. Users can earn points by posting comments creating posts, or even by logging in on your site. Encourage your users to comment on your posts by offering them points which could be used to purchase items / upgrades / etc. Users will be awarded a certain number of points for each comment they make.
Free Gamification Badges
A free set of Foursquare-inspired gamification badges using tasty Symbly icons. These are great if you are building your own gamification system, or you just like bright coloured icons - This pack contains 100 icons.
Free Gamification Badges »
If you want to drive up engagement on your WordPress site and reward your loyal users then this is a great way to foster a community around your content. As people use the system more, they become more invested in it and proud of their achievements. With Google's latest updates Penguin and Panda, one of the metrics they use to rank sites is bounce rate and engagement, so the more you can do to encourage this, the better you will look in Google's eyes. In the past, on WPLift, I've covered many ways you can tap into the community and traffic of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and use them to grow your own site - Gamification is another way of achieving that, by rewarding users for connecting their accounts and sharing your content - a win for all parties involved.