We're moving towards the holiday season, so I find myself pausing as I fast-forward through commercials to see what new video games are coming out this fall. The "big holiday game" is the video gamer's equivalent of the "big summer movie," so this is an exciting time of year for gamers.
Game design has evolved a long way from the first game I played on a home system, a version of Pong with a single dial for a controller. I can also remember my friends marveling at the "amazing graphics" of some 64-bit titles before the millennium, which would be considered rough and antiquated by today's standards.
I'm not a designer, but as a web professional in a related discipline, I do appreciate the value of good, accessible, user-friendly web design. So here are a few things that I think my friends who design for the web can learn from the best innovators in game design.
1. Put the user on rails, (but hide the rails.) As much as gamers rave about "open world" games that allow you to explore a vast digital landscape, the very best games maintain a strong linear story. Similarly, a good web design should activate curiosity and encourage users to explore the site; but it still needs to steer them in the direction of a conversion. The more imperceptibly you can guide a user towards your desired end goal, the better the user will feel about taking that desired action, and the better they'll feel about your company.
2. Use sound, visual and motion cues to guide the user to success. People like a challenge, but nobody likes a game that makes them feel stupid. Similarly, with modern web design techniques, designers have a wide latitude to create rich user experience design that offers multiple prompts and hints at how to proceed through the site, including subtle animations, visual effects, audio prompts, etc. But as with a video game, these need to be subtle enough that the user feels a sense of accomplishment, not as though they're being "helped."
3. It's about delight, not just avoiding frustration. Early video games could be notoriously buggy, and not nearly as many were released each year as are produced currently. So the bar for a "good game" was set at "bug-free and functional." Now, "bug-free" only earns you a mediocre rating. Similarly, business websites often set the bar at "functional," but with the millions of websites out there now, a good experience requires something special to delight and reward the user.
Some of the most rapidly growing video games in terms of popularity are online casual games. So clearly, video game designers have learned a lot from the web, as well. Ultimately, your goal as a business is to have a website that attracts the right people, engages them emotionally, and nudges them irresistibly towards becoming a customer or client.
If you're interested in talking with us about how to accomplish that, contact us today.