Gamification is a hot topic at the moment, so I went to a seminar hosted by Infolab21 from Lancaster University, and led by Dr Paul Coulton to find out more about it, and to find out whether there any way this could be part of the corporate website. (I posted a response to the first one of Dr Coulton’s presentations for Infolab’s Brunch Bytes season—about social media— earlier this week).
For most stakeholders—and for most websites—the corporate site is purely a repository of information; somewhere to find the latest news, reports and share-price.
But some corporate sites aim to be more engaging, at least in some stakeholder areas, including such elements as blogs, live-chat and other more-or-less-asynchronous discussion elements.
Some corporate websites include games and other challenges—almost always in the Careers section—and some companies have added game elements to the recruitment process. Games and gamification aren’t the same thing, of course, but it is interesting to see an element of fun on the corporate site.
Dr Paul Coulton offered a definition of gamification as:
Using game mechanics to encourage engagement in an activity that might otherwise be considered a chore or boring
Hmm. Surely there’s no such thing on a corporate website?
His alternative – and preferred – definition was:
Encouraging certain user behaviour using games as a lens
Now that is a definition the corporate site could work with… And if we look more closely at a few of the simpler elements involved, the chances are that your website already includes some of these things; though a full-blown structure of challenges and rewards is unlikely to be an option.
According to the Gamification wiki, features of gamification include:
- Letting visitors know what others have been doing on the site.
Recent-blog-posts widgets let visitors know what the company has been doing; but recent-downloads, rate-this-page and popular-pages widgets are increasingly common on corporate sites, and show what visitors have been doing.
Potential additions could include popular-videos, or popular-images, or even recently-shared-pages.
Or what about including a ‘you might be interested in this’ or ‘other people who loaded this page also looked at’ section at the end of a page, with genuine related links based on the visitor path or search query? I think I’ve seen this one recently – do remind me where in the comments!
- Allowing visitors to identify themselves.
Avatars: an avatar is a visual representation of an individual – sometimes a photo, but not always. If you allow comments on any part of your site (CSR blog, perhaps) do you show people’s avatars?
The ability to add an avatar for commenters is probably the furthest a corporate site is likely to go with this one. Most visitors won’t be interested in being identified.
- Including intentionally hidden features (Easter Eggs).
I’m sure you’ve seen this as part of a retail promotion, and while highly unlikely to happen in the investor relations section, this could be used in the graduate recruitment section: perhaps as a scavenger hunt/quiz, to help students find out more about the company by driving them through various carefully chosen pages of the website, or from social media outlets to the corporate site and back again.
- Enabling unique experiences.
Some companies enable people to create an account, to personalise their landing pages, and to create collections of items that they are interested in (on a corporate site, usually called bookmarks, briefcases, folders…). Perhaps the next step is to enable people to create and share the URL to their collections of your content with others? If you know of anyone who already does this, do please let us know.
It’s unlikely that people would want to rank on a leaderboard in any of the main sections of the corporate site (even if they might for a game in the careers section). The person who’d reviewed the share price the most often? I don’t think so. However, a leaderboard for ‘most frequent commenter’ just might work, if you get enough comments.
- Keeping the visitor informed about their progress or change of status.
A progress bar, for instance, to indicate how far through an activity your visitor has got. These are commonplace in retail, as you step through the shopping cart; but in corporate sites? How about a progress bar to indicate how far through the application process your potential recruit has got?
I haven’t spotted this kind of experience on a corporate site, but how about ‘There have been 5 new press releases since you last visited: do you want to see them?’ (filtering out the ones already seen). Some websites have experimented with enabling the visitor to identify themselves as of a type (e.g. journalist) and then presenting them with relevant information on their next visit. If people have created an account, then it should be possible to filter new content based on their expressed interest.
- Displaying a visitors activity.
I have seen this one occasionally: a widget displaying your recently visited pages; or your recent downloads. If registered for an account within the careers section, then you might be able to check which jobs you’ve applied for, and what their status is; or if required to register to see corporate images for download, you might be able to see which images you’ve previously used – though this would be less useful.
OK, so it isn’t putting together an international team of warlocks, were-beasts and night-elves to hunt for the Shadow Troll; but it is all adding the potential for engagement to the corporate website.
And that is probably one of your metrics for success.
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