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Start Local & Gamification: Adding New Dimensions To User Experience

Start Local Gamification

We’ve partnered with Start Local, Australia’s premiere business directory, since their inception, helping them to establish themselves at the head of their market as well as managing their hosting. Recently, Start Local wanted to expand upon the ways in which their usebase interacts with their site in a major way: introducing “gamification” – adding game-like systems of scores and rewards for utilizing their site – to Start Local. Here’s how we added a new dimension of user experience to Start Local…

Why Gamify?

Gamification is being embraced by companies of all types to engage users and customers in new ways. For Start Local, gamification was the next step in making their site more appealing to users after social media integration. By allowing users to interact with Start Local’s content via their social media accounts, initial visits to the site are made more appealing and interaction with it easier. The game-related features, then, are designed to make repeat visits and interactions more rewarding, making their successful implementation a high priority.

Start Local Badges
Users receive badges and awards which are displayed on their profile as they interact with Start Local.

Integrating Gigya

The core of our gamification of Start Local began with integrating a suite of social media and gamification functionality from premier gamification platform Gigya into our existing Start Local site design. This provided Start Local with many of the features and rewards they wanted to offer their users for interacting with their site.

  • Personal badges awarded to users when they reach certain “milestones” of interaction: writing a certain number of reviews or comments, for example.
  • Leaderboards which rank users as they compete for various awards and titles.
  • A user profile page which allows users to view and track their and other users’ interactions quickly.
  • User profile popups displaying awards and badges while mousing over a user’s name.
  • Scheduled competitions which allow users to vie for prizes on the basis of criteria given by Start Local (for example, the most popular review of the month).

Expanding the Game

While these features gave Start Local a great first step, there were still further measures to be taken to achieve the type of user interactivity they wanted to achieve. Taking Gigya’s existing code as a starting point, we custom-built new functionality to take Start Local’s gamification to the next level. We started this process by tracking users’ interactions with the site in parallel with Gigya’s servers on our own servers, which gave us more latitude to provide Start Local with the additional functionality they were looking for.

Popup Alerts
We customized popup windows to keep Start Local’s users up to date on their achievements.

  • Tracking interactions with user-owned records: User submitted records (ie, comments) are a major part of Start Local, but Gigya’s out of the box functionality had no way to connect interaction with those records to the original poster. To achieve this, we stored all interaction IDs, and then cross-referenced those with user information. We created custom code which melded Gigya and Start Local data in order to provide points and awards to users based upon Start Local’s custom criteria (comments or reviews which prompt the most replies, for example).
  • Comments are displayed live but are not validated (and thus tabulated into leaderboard or badge consideration) until they are approved by a mod, preventing users from spamming the site to unlock achievements.
  • Managing Start Local’s user records in parallel on both GT and Gigya’s servers initially meant sending and receiving surplus ajax queries and slowing performance on users’ browsers. We bypassed this problem by routing leaderboard information to Gigya solely through GT’s servers, using Gigya’s REST API, rather than back through Start Local a second time.
  • Redesigned Gigya’s leaderboard via REST to correct design issues.
  • Redesigned pop-up windows for badge and award notifications.
  • Notification of reply to comments: responses to users’ comments appear in Facebook-style corner popups.
  • Added a new toolbar to the bottom of the page.

Step Up Your Game

Can gamification help draw in your site’s target demographic in new ways, or are there other web strategies which could best help engage your userbase? Get in touch, and let’s talk about solutions that’ll work for you.