TechnologyAdvice provides coverage content on teaching and training games, strategic employee engagement software, and customer loyalty programs and much more. Clark Buckner, the online events manager from TechnologyAdvice, shares the first installment of their Business Technology Whiteboard video series and talks about the advantages of using badges in this article.
Whether you like badges or not, badges are ingrained in some of our oldest traditions. Karate belts, Boy Scout merit badges, and even Army Medals are all forms of badges. It’s easy to misuse this technology, which is why it’s become a target for criticism. It’s possible to use badges to represent something meaningful, like something that truly advances a career.
The Benefits of Badges
Badges are often the best method for engagement because they allow users to visibly display their achievements. Other methods, such as leveling up, typically aren¹t as obvious, and lack the social component and distinction of a badge. Even though other rewards can require the same amount of effort to attain, they often can’t be displayed or shown to other users as easily. Badges can create visible channels through which users can show off achievements. They also help motivate other users or participants, who see these rewards and are compelled to attain their own.
Another benefit of badges is the potential to dramatically improve engagement with users. Often times, they create a goal that may take weeks (or in some cases, months) to achieve. This effort makes the badge much more rewarding than something such as employee of the month, which can be a one-off award or given for unclear criteria.
Two excellent examples of companies that implement badges well are Khan Academy and Codecademy. They are meaningful because they’re tied to progress. Answering five skill questions in a row correlates to improvement in a certain subject. It is immediately clear how Khan Academy or Codecademy badges relate to a larger goal, i.e., becoming more knowledgeable about a certain subject.
Advantages and Disadvantages
One of the best advantages of badges is that oftentimes they are stepping stones to some larger goal or purpose (i.e. becoming an expert coder with Codecademy). Because they are symbolic of progress, they are commonly linked with hard work. By seeing your hard work every time you log into your profile, it’s possible to stay motivated. Badges are also great for brand awareness. Because users have worked so hard for badges, they often share them on social media and help to promote their own hard work as well as whatever company allowed them to feel that sense of accomplishment.
One of the disadvantages is that badges can be used too often. Sometimes, websites give you a few badges just for signing up. Since it often requires little work to join programs, these badges aren’t as indicative of hard work as other badges that can take weeks or even months to achieve.
Setting It Up
The best way to develop a strategy for implementing badges is to look for a space where employees or users need to complete actions that benefit not only businesses, but also benefit them. Ultimately, if users or employees feel engaged and excited by the badges that have been created, then they’re much more likely to continue to work hard in order to improve.
Typically, the most difficult problem with setting up badges as an engagement method is determining what badges can add the most value and actually motivate users to stay engaged. Usually the best way to implement badges is to look for inspiration as to who has correctly created engaging software or programs that keeps engagement levels high.
In conclusion, badges come with both advantages and disadvantages that need to be navigated according to your goals. Before considering this implementation, consider your end users and determine what steps need to be taken first before bringing in the use of badges.
For more information on badges and a road map to utilize this valuable set of tools, visit TechnologyAdvice’s free guide to gamification to learn more.