Are you curious to know what gamification is all about? Ever thought about gamifying product documentation? Interested to know what aspects can be gamified and how gamification adds value to your end users? In one of my previous blog posts, I spoke about all the buzz around user assistance. This blog post gives you the buzz and insights on gamification in information architecture and how we at SAP have gamified our product documentation.
If you’ve played games online or even a physical board game, game elements are crucial to keep you interested in continuing the game or wanting to play again. Game elements could be challenges, competing with other players, fantasy elements such as fictional names and personas, rewards, etc. Using fun and engaging game elements in anything other than games is gamification in a nutshell. But what does this have to do with product documentation? By gamifying certain aspects of product documentation, a user may feel more involved and is more likely to assimilate information, which in turn makes technical information more efficient. When you apply gamification to technical information, your users can have a more positive and engaging experience when learning technical concepts.
Elements of Gamification in Product Documentation
Let’s look at some of the game elements that you can use in gamifying product documentation.
One of the simplest game elements is personalization. Allow your users to create their own profile on your documentation platform. When you invite your users to log on and choose an avatar, you make your users feel involved. You can make it even more personal by giving them an option to upload picture. Logging in and creating an avatar are usually the first steps in a game, and these steps allow users to feel a personal connection.
Product documentation isn’t something that people read end-to-end like a novel or a book. It’s more about providing the right information at the right time when users require it. Users usually search for answers in product documentation, and this activity can be compared to a game element such as a quest in a game. Enabling your content to be searched helps a user’s quest to find the right information.
When a quest is solved in a game, it is possible that the same information can come in handy again. Providing game elements such as allowing your users to add content to a chest of favorites and viewing search history are a great way to help end users to access information faster when they need it again.
Games can contain different quests to solve, each quest requiring different skills or information to solve. Similarly, product documentation can span several categories. Allowing your users to organize their favorites is another game element that can be used in information architecture to give a better user experience.
Playing a game is all about user experience. It’s about how your user interacts with the system. On similar lines, when you allow your users to interact with your content platform, you give users a unique experience. Using interaction as a game element in product documentation, you enable users to move away from static documents and a boring experience.
How about connecting with other players or chatting about the game itself? These are game elements too! In a content platform, providing users with an option to comment or give feedback on the content is a nice way for communication. Both you as well as your users benefit from such a communication channel.
Gamification in SAP Help Portal
Now that you have an idea of what gamification is all about, and how game elements make a difference to product documentation, let’s look at the elements used in the Help Portal to enhance our users’ experience.
The SAP Help Portal allows you as a user to log on and create your avatar, giving that first personal connection. The home page shows you a condensed list of your favorite products, favorite pages, recent pages that you have visited, and recent searches. You also have an option to view the whole list. You can search for content by using keywords or a product name and can further filter the search results. On the SAP Help Portal, as a user, you can interact with product documentation in various ways – by using interactive graphics in content, commenting on content, providing feedback on content, navigating links, .
Also, you have product documentation provided as context-sensitive help within SAP products, which is called SAP Companion. You have tutorials, guided procedures, as well as static content provided as context-sensitive help. All these game elements enable you to interact with product documentation in a meaningful way.
Gamification is a great technique that you can utilize to make product documentation more attractive to your users. Moreover, gamification has been found to increase usability, stimulate learning, and help users in retaining information for longer periods of time. As an information architect, you can choose which game elements to implement based on your audience and research.
Did this blog post motivate you to think of ways to gamify your product documentation? Tell us what you think about it using the comments. Know anyone who would benefit from this blog post? Feel free to share it with them!