April 26, 2024
min read

Use Game Design Principles To Help SaaS Users Overcome the Forgetting Curve

A month after receiving important information employees forget approximately 80% of it but with proper onboarding design guided by game design principles, we can help overcome this for a smoother better adoption. Good games teach users complex function successfully with minimal struggle, much can be learned from their principles of game design when seeking to implement enterprise SaaS.

Written by

Marc Chia

According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, a month after receiving important information employees forget approximately 80% of it. The study first conducted by Hermann Ebbinghaus and replicated as recently as 2015 is important for transformation managers to understand.

Ebbinghaus found people forget information naturally because most information is non-essential. This is a natural result of how our minds work. Given new information, the average person forgets 42% of it after 20 minutes. Within 24 hours, 67% is gone, and after a month 79% is forgotten. In short, if you are trying to communicate change in your team this becomes a major barrier to overcome.

In particular in the context of implementing new systems and solutions, the forgetting curve highlights how difficult it is to successfully navigate change by users. In order to deal with this, one approach is to utilize game design principles.

Principle1 -Teach users through progressive steps.

Role playing games like Diablo or Final Fantasy often have users begin with limited skillsets and eventually work their way toward more complicated and deep systems of battle. Games intentionally limit the ability of users at the beginning of the game. This guides users to understand the basics before they slowly progress to more complex usage. Similarly, users should be guided through the basics rather than overwhelming them with excessive information.

In the enterprise SaaS space, users can often be overwhelmed with different features which may not be critical or aligned with their immediate needs. Indeed the complexity of UXUI is inversely correlated with the number of features and the flexibility offered by systems. A better onboarding process that unlocks these tools over time would make the initial learning journey more refined and easier to digest.

Principle 2 - Give & teach users the tools they need at the right time.

As part of good game design, tools should be given and taught to users at the point where they need it. An example is games like X-Com 2 which includes a hacking mechanic. However, instructions for how to conduct a hack are only given at the point of need. Users can learn while they do thus and make for an easier learning experience.

A common practice in software training is to conduct longer training sessions to show the full feature suite. However, these are often times unsuccessful. Many times in implementations, the result of such trainings are a support team that is overwhelmed with basic usage inquiries as users forget the finer details. Rather than these offering contextualized training at the point of need for example via videos, in-app messages or tooltips can be powerful for modularizing training and making it available at the point of need.

Principle 3 - Give users the ability to refer to their past learnings to refresh their knowledge.

Some games include a reference library of enemies that a gamer has encountered before. More than just a record of their adventures such encyclopedias also document past weaknesses and strengths giving the player a way to refresh their memory. The next encounter with such an enemy would go easier as the player can reference their encyclopedia.

Similarly in digital transformation, self-study and self-support material should be given to users to enable their own learning and reminders. These may be online websites or offline documents. An often overlooked resources are community forums where users can often self help and also assist other users with similar inquiries. A key point to remember is such resources should be targeted at the appropriate level. Overly verbose articles are often counterintuitive for a user seeking to carry out a simple function and the opposite is true for those seeking to understand in depth the limits and potential of software.

Game Design in Onboarding & Training

Incorporating game design principles into onboarding and training offer many benefits for digital adoption of software. The way that games are designed make the learning journey easier for their users and often overall heavily contribute to the success of games. Adopting similar approaches to onboarding may not necessarily mean fun but it would offer a more intuitive learning experience and one that ultimately contributes to the success of any software implementation at the enterprise level.

Usertip is a digital adoption platform designed to help scale your onboarding, training and support for digital solutions. Our no-code platform delivers in-application walkthroughs directly on your digital solutions. Seamless user experience and on-demand learning are all delivered to your user’s fingertips within seconds. Click here to find out more.

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