Game experiences are slowly creeping into regular old user interfaces.
A great example is OldNavyWeekly.com. On the surface level it serves
as a normal circular, announcing big sales on the hip clothes. But it
also prominently prompts users to “Click around to find hidden in-store
coupons”, playing as a kind of easter egg hunt.
In some cases
you need to drag items from one outfit to another, like a pair of shoes
or a heart imprint. In others you need to click a character that
appears briefly onscreen, like a baby chick who periodically runs out
of a basket (and it’s actually really hard to catch the little
bastard). For each find, you’re rewarded with a coupon to print and
bring to the store — but you can only keep one, so in each case you
need to decide whether it’s a better deal than the one you already have.
of course this goes against the must fundamental, ingrained tenets of
usable design, like making sure that users can easily find the things
they want to find. So can this really be a good thing? I’d suggest
that there may actually be a few ways that a game such as this one can
be helpful to the retailer:
It couples the coupons with a sense of achievement.
You had to invest effort and ingenuity to get that coupon, dammit, and
that investment won’t be fulfilled until you make use of it. If you
don’t, then the time you spent working on it could only be seen as time
wasted. The more difficult the challenge, the greater the sense of
It commands greater attention. Games require
active, participative engagement in the experience. Since anything
onscreen could be a trigger, the user has to pay more careful attention
everything. Eyeballs are good, but attentive eyeballs are much more
likely to respond to ads. The game also also encourages repeated
visits as it’s redone each week.
It encourages free peer-to-peer advertising.
You also have the option to gift one coupon to a friend via Facebook.
That’s great for Old Navy, because it comes with an implicit
endorsement from a trusted friend. If it was worth sending, then the
person receiving it must read it as saying “This is a great deal, you
should check it out”.
It invites users to think of themselves differently.
Web users are often cast like the audience of TV or magazines, who use
or consume information at the end of its journey and after it’s fully
formed. People playing a game, on the other hand, join in making the
experience. This invites users to think of themselves as belonging to
in-group, with a role to play as a part of the Old Navy brand.
going to try to make contact with the site’s designers, to ask them
about the intention underlying the game approach and how well it’s
worked for them. If you have any questions you’d like to me to ask
them, please feel free to add comments to this post.
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