I did the concept design and UX/UI design for this project. I also designed and ran an internal preference test.
The success of any online discussion forum, be it for travel lovers or for food lovers, is dependent on user engagement. Without a lively forum with new content and user interactions, a forum will die. As such, one of our H2 2020 team goals in Travel Communities (TC) was to focus on user engagement. We wanted to encourage existing users to keep coming back and we wanted to inspire new users to contribute and to become returning users.
Contributors to Travel Communities typically contribute very few posts/comments over their lifetime. The 75th percentile of users create just 2 pieces of content over their life and the 95th percentile of users create 5 pieces of content or less.
Additionally, users have no way to identify the trustworthiness of a contributor. Currently, there is no easy way of knowing at a glance whether or not a user is a reliable contributor.
Gamification has been consistently shown to be an effective way of incentivizing user behavior online. There are an overwhelming number of studies that support the notion that gamification increases user engagement, especially.
Our hypothesis is that by adding gamification elements to the Travel Communities we would incentivize engagement and promote user contributions. Our MVP focused on 2 aspects of gamification - user status and progress along a reward path.