9 UX & Interaction Design Tips I Learned Playing Games

Staci Jaime
Feb 6, 2018 · 6 min read

Why are games so compelling? Even ordinary chores such as cooking, fishing, and waiting on tables have been turned into fun games played for hours at a time. I enjoy playing games, and I’ve discovered many insights into human behavior that has helped me become a better designer.

These tips have helped make my designs more engaging, enjoyable, and easier to use.

Tip 1: Use sound and timing to heighten emotions

Use: For less-frequent interactions that you want to highlight. To heighten the emotions around meaningful tasks.

Don’t use: For frequent interactions, or actions that need to be completed quickly. You don’t want to draw focus away from users completing their goals.

Tip 2: Make it easy to find the right tool when users need it

Use: For products with many options that will be used in different ways by different people.

Don’t use: For few options, or only one workflow. If you want every person to complete the experience in the same way.

Players can either click the action button or use hotkeys

Tip 3: Provide methods for novice and advanced users

Use: When new users need clear and visible tools, and experienced users want more speed, options, or control.

Don’t use: For products that are not used frequently.

Tip 4: Use visuals & environmental cues to show changes

Use: For quickly comparing numbers or options. As a cue for people on what might be coming up. For transforming actions to be more enjoyable.

Don’t use: If it is distracting from the main goals of the experience.

Far left: Zarya gets brighter as she gets more powerful. Middle & right: What Zarya sees as she powers up.

Tip 5: Make it easy to find the next step

Use: For guiding users along a flow. For first time or infrequent users. When you have a good idea of what users are trying to accomplish.

Don’t use: For times the user has no set direction, such as using a design program.

Left: Moving arrows showing where to go in Overwatch. Right: Mission checklist in Dishonored 2

Tip 6: But also encourage exploration

Use: For adding to the enjoyment and flexibility of a an experience. For keeping people engaged for more time.

Don’t use: For workflows that must be done the same way. For time-sensitive actions.

Tip 7: Then let people enjoy their progress

Use: For milestone actions or accomplishments people want to review or remember at a later date. For reinforcing progress. Can be used to show what is left to do.

Don’t use: For frequent, common interactions.

Tip 8: Let them express their personality

Use: For helping people feel more involved with the experience and each other. For quickly differentiating between multiple people.

Don’t use: If it might cause unwanted bias or for anonymous users.

Tip 9: Be forgiving of mistakes

Use: For encouraging exploration. In places people are likely to make mistakes, or mistakes would have a dire impact.

Don’t use: When measuring scores. If it will slow down or distract from the experience.

As a designer, I’m always learning from the world around me, and I hope this article inspires you to learn from your passions as well! How has playing games helped you?

Staci Jaime

Written by

UX Designer at Accenture | Passionate about VR, Accessibility, and Human-Centered Design