UX Design Strategies You Can Learn from Board Games

Design Strategies You Can Learn from Board Games

In this day and age, when people try to come up with fresh new designs, they automatically start looking for inspiration in technology. And it’s no surprise: gadgets, smart objects, computers, hoverboards surround us. Despite our intelligent, digital, and eco-friendly-electric-oh-so-modern-and-advanced surroundings, let’s stop for just a second and take a break from all that. 

A world of inspiration and powerful images exist beyond screens in other user experiences. It’s difficult, especially when you spend hours in front of screens, to search for new patterns and ideas. Even now, as you read this article and see the suggestion to “ take a break from all the tech,” you’re still staring at the screen of your laptop, desktop computer, tablet, or maybe even smartphone. But, as you do it, here’s some food for thought:  have you ever considered board games as an inspiration for user experience design?

The thing is that “user experience” is much more than just a handheld gadget or web app your UX agency’s team designs. It’s actually about any and every touchpoint a user has with a company. And it’s pretty much like a board game. The thing about board games is that they always bring excitement, no matter if a person is a new player or a veteran. If your UX design agency still hasn’t noticed any parallels between the two domains, this article is precisely for you.

UX Design and Board Games Balance Enjoyment and Needs

Most board games include an instruction manual or rulebook, but reading them is perhaps the most tedious part of any game. When players are about to start playing a game,  they want to learn to play ASAP without delay. Some people prefer if others to explain the rules to them, and this is objectively the best way to learn the rules – if every person at the party reads the rules, the game will never start. Usually, the person explaining how to play the game is clear and concise. They tell what’s allowed and prohibited in the game, and at the same time, they reveal the game mechanics.

There are also board games that you can learn to play almost instantly. These are usually casual and social games based on dynamics most people are well familiar with. At the same time, games such as Risk take about an hour to learn – especially if you don’t have anyone to teach you – and several hours to play. In other words, the world of board games is incredibly vast that has something for virtually everyone.

Now, Where’s the UX Design in Here?

When a person views a product for the first time, they are looking for the fulfillment of a need or the solution to a problem. And, considering the busy world we live in, they will most certainly try to do it while doing something else at the same time. Thus, when considering your project’s UX design, it’s best to assume that the user won’t have an hour to figure out how it works.

Just like board game rules described above, it shouldn’t feel too complicated. Everything here is about perception – starting with the way the end-user interacts with the design and ending with timing. Even if the user is already familiar with the information provided to them by the digital product, they have to be taught to use it quickly, while being provided with an overall enjoyable experience. 

And don’t forget to let the user know what they are expected to do when using your product. That is, if you’re designing a delivery app, it should be clear where they should click or tap to get a particular result.

Let Users Control Their Experience

One of the first things most players wonder about when starting a game is, “Alright, how do I win?” But, the essential part of the board game is the evaluation of available choices that a player has before making a move. Some of the things a player can ponder over in some way when considering their next step includes:

  • “If I want to win, I have to understand all the options and limitations that are available to me during my turn;”
  • “I will get feedback from each option after trying it, and then I can figure out whether it’s helpful for the win or not;”
  • “What other players could do after my move to counter it?”

It is a primary way of thinking for most players, and while it’s not necessarily the same for every person out there,  it certainly lays out a pattern that you can follow.

UX Lessons for User Empowerment

By carefully considering the things described above, your UX design team can devise an effective strategy that will allow your design solutions to provide users with a sense of control over their actions in the digital product you may be designing.

First of all, it’s necessary to focus on those design components that will let the user approach their goal at particular points in time. Thus, it’s essential to prioritize the options, as you can quickly get into the pitfall of adding more options than needed, trying to provide the user with better flexibility. It can quickly get overwhelming. Try to figure out what you might have overlooked before you launch the project since after it is launched you may have a hard time withdrawing it.

Your UX team has to make sure all the options are clear before the user decides on either of them. Try thinking for the user. Consider emphasizing some components more than others and make sure you placed them correctly. The goal is to guide the user through the options and help them make their choice with minimal effort. It has to be followed by clear feedback, helping the user to understand if their choice helped them get closer to their goal.

Conclusion

Each contact point a user has with a product is a chance for UX design to provide them with the ultimate experience. Board games have been doing it for a long time through rules and gameplay, which is why they’re so valuable in terms of lessons for UX design solutions. Whenever your UX agency takes a project, no matter its niche and format, try thinking like a player who wants to win in a board game. You will be surprised at all the ideas that will come to your mind.

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James Williams
James is our Senior Content Publisher at ArticleSnatch.com. He has worked with many top websites over the years, including BuzzFeed.

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