Experience design, gamification design, engagement what is it all about?

In the quest to make content, products and even organisations more useful for its target audiences, there is an emergence of closely related fields such as experience design, gamification design and engagement. What is it all about and what on earth is the difference?

I think it is a fair question for all decision-makers in business aiming to see the wood from the trees. So let’s start with the biggest one and work our way down from there.


Engagement is the catch-all term for all activities that improve interactions and the underlying motivational drivers that trigger actions. Engagement solutions can come in the shape of surveys, mood analysis, eye tracking, action tracking, interaction designs, etc. Basically, anything that can give you insights into the behaviours of customers or employees.

If you look at research organisations such as Gallup, you can find out what they measure in order to come out with workplace engagement strategies. Typically this goes further than tracking simple interactions and delves deep into whether people can deliver their best work in the workplace. If you are unfamiliar with this then do look up their 12 questions.

In customer engagement, we often see engagement measured in a net promoter score and marketing analytics. Campaigns are measured in terms of leads generated and conversions made. Knowingly most brands realise to generate customer engagement there are multiple touchpoints over time.

Gamification in the context of engagement whether it is for the purpose of engaging with employees or customers is one of many solutions that can get you results.

Experience design

The latest buzzword on the block is experience design because we live in the experience economy as is believed. Experience design is the shortened version of user experience design. It means that first and foremost you get to know your customer or employee aka your user, you create a persona and then you build the ultimate experience for this user.

Personally, I see our blend of gamification following the core principles of user experience design. We use the same methodology of researching the target audience, we process map the business process that needs to be gamified and we look for meaningful touchpoints to hang our game elements onto to create the desired experience.

We also use extensive testing with users to come to our ultimate final design. Not everyone will follow the same process in gamification, but most user experience designers will.

Gamification design

Gamification is the art of blending psychology with game mechanics and game dynamics to create specific business experiences and outcomes.  The key method here is applying game mechanics to business processes in order to reach a specific objective.

Not all engagement and experience design solutions incorporate gamification however gamification probably incorporates elements from both.

I understand the confusion and with all emerging fields, this is not going to go away any time soon. Just know that all three can work to solve problems, they are close friends. Both user experience design and gamification design can provide solutions to engagement problems through insights of your user’s behaviours.



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