WordPress gamification tools

  17th January, 2018 By An Coppens

In our work with small and medium-sized businesses, we are often asked to gamify a WordPress based memberships sites for knowledge communities and online course academies. Our way of working with clients is the same as with our bigger corporate clients, we look for the objectives the owners have and then carry out existing user research. After both those activities are completed will we go on to construct a gamification design, which we then aim to implement through existing tools.

When we started our work in this field the number of plugins available were limited and didn’t give much flexibility to create a compelling design. Most of the enterprise-ready platforms with most flexibility for design purposes tend to be out of the league of most smaller organisations. In our early projects we tried using some of them and for the most part, we ended up resorting back to dedicated WordPress plugins for their ease of integration and to keep the look and feel similar to what customers are used to in their style of website.

Free gamification plugins

Some of the oldest tools on the market is BadgeOS, which allows for badges and creating achievement steps relating to these, some add-ons exist that allow for progression tracking and leaderboards and it is still offered free of charge. There is a good bit of supporting information available and the experience of using it is very intuitive.

MyCred is an open source free point management plugin that allows you to create an all-out virtual economy, which as many point systems as you care to design for. You can allow your users to buy and sell in your website currency. You can allow unlocking of content once a certain points level is achieved. Add-ons allow you to add in badges, leaderboards, banking and more. Their gamification add-ons are actually paid for mini-games such as scratch cards and lottery-style games. The documentation available is extensive.

Paid gamification plugins

One of the older paid plugins is WP achievements allows for quests, ranking, leaderboards, levels and point structures. It comes with a small fee and is being sold through Codecanyon. Some webmasters, find that resource a bit hit and miss. From our work with clients we know the plugin works and has been kept up-to-date in recent months. Support and updates are included for a time as long as you keep your fees paid.

CaptainUp was one of the most comprehensive platforms for WordPress for years. Originally it allowed you to install the plugin for free and then usage would push you into payment brackets. Currently, it doesn’t promote itself as a WordPress plugin anymore but rather as a gamification platform. My assumption is that it has become paid only. Again it allowed for activity tracking, leaderboards, badges, ranking, levels and points.

Accessally is another option, but a closed plugin and it works only on its own membership and course tools, so no integration with other set-ups. If you are in the market for a ready-made solution and don’t want to spend time configuring, it is a good option. From our perspective, we had to scale back a design dramatically to fit within this plugin. They don’t want to open up the API for integration and are quite clear on this. If you are working with tools such as Infusionsoft, that is where it integrates well.

Our favourites

Bluerabbit.io is a gamified course solution, which also won the “outstanding gamification platform” award at Gamification Europe recently. It is a great solution for blended learning, where you want to have real-life classroom or webinar courses combined with quests, online learning and specific tasks relating to the topic. We have implemented it in a project where gamification was essential, we had online quest-based learning materials and different levels to configure. It comes with some pre-set achievements and recommendations. You can also encourage teamwork, set specific “homework” or missions and you have the regular game mechanics you would associate with progression and achievement. So if you are a novice or limited in time to implement a gamified training, I would highly recommend looking into this set-up.

A recent development is the Gamipress suite of plugins and one I would seriously recommend looking into when you want more options for your gamification design. The core plugin is free, the reason that I have included it under the paid plugins is that a lot of the value-adding add-ons, which I would find essential are available for a fee only. Things like progression tracking, restricting content, allowing purchases with points, notifications and progress mapping (great for quests) are all paid for. I have to say that this is one of the plugins, we will be developing some custom add-ons driven by the requests from our clients. The documentation doesn’t always explain everything, but support is quite prompt. This suite of plugins is one of my current favourites and one to watch.

What to be mindful of when choosing your mix of solutions

When you are looking to add gamification to your WordPress site, you should still start with a solid strategy and matching design. If you have no compelling reason to use gamification, then stay clear of it and make your site as user-friendly as possible. Where gamification can add value is on membership sites and online course sites, that is where we can offer you a well-priced done-for-you service, which includes strategy, user research and design as well as implementation.

Integration with your existing set-up is what needs exploring upfront. Not every combination will work with the above set-up, some may require tweaking. Out of the box solutions, may provide you ease of implementation, but it may require revising how your WordPress site is configured.

If you are ready to roll-out gamification on your WordPress based membership site or online course contact us to assist you with your strategy, design and implementation on fun@gamificationnation.com

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