Gamification has made its way across multiple industries in just the past few years. The process of adding game mechanics to engage users and solve problems has been seen within health, hospitality, business, and education. Although there have been a few offline applications of gamification–one of my favorites being the immersive budgeting games through Innovation Games–most of the action has been digital, creating online communities around products and ideas. So, say you have a great idea for a gamified web or mobile application but have no idea how to build a webpage? A good place to start would be with Team Treehouse, a gamified learning platform that runs the gamut of how to get an application up and running.
Treehouse has its roots within the web design community. Founded by Ryan Carson, who previously launched the design shop Carsonified, Treehouse arose out of the perceived lack of fun and engaging ways to learn web design and development. The next iteration was a series of training videos through the design blog Think Vitamin. Simply producing and posting videos was not enough to engage beginners, and so Treehouse was born, combining the lessons, videos, and quizes within an immersive curriculum on the cutting edge of web design and development. As a user states on their site, “What I studied at University was out of date before I even graduated. Treehouse is current and up to date.”
The gamification elements run throughout the site. Each user has a dashboard highlighting next lessons to learn and showing the ones you’ve already completed with a badge. This simple syllabus provides a clear indication of your progress and accomplishments and engages users in moving forward, a la Khan Academy. Most lessons are also concluded with simple multiple answer questions, and chapters sum up with an online sandbox, where you can both experiment and prove your knowledge of the material. By creating an immersive experiment for both learning and testing, Treehouse creates a much more straightforward feedback loop compared to classroom courses or book-bound tutorials.
The whole site experience is encompassed in a design that is playful and engaging. A frog character follows you through the site giving helpful tips and sharing web links that I always end up clicking on. And the first ridiculous intro video made me laugh, and created a devoted user (but I won’t spoil it for you). These tiny elements make the site a treat to return to (and inevitably continue paying for).
Other web applications have put their toes in the water of gamified web dev. Codecademy was one of the first I saw, but has stagnated since its release. Gild created a great community that regularly competes for coding cred. Both are innovative, but Treehouse is the first to do the full learning environment.
Treehouse offers two tiers for membership. Silver gives access to the basic design/dev curriculum with new material every other week for $25 a month. Gold ups-the-ante with access to the business curriculum, tutorials on project management, and startup strategy for $50 a month.
I have been a user for over a month, and the gamified elements make for a great experience. Maybe they will produce a few lessons on gamification next.