Many people want to live a healthier life, but maintaining these healthy habits is so hard in reality. Therefore, we came up with the idea to re-design and gamify habit trackers for a mainstream user to make them more likely to achieve behaviour change. We oriented ourselves at successful apps that work with gamifying content directed to mainstream users such as duolingo. 

On the one hand, there are a number of habit tracker apps that do not use gamification concepts, such as habitshare. They are generally clean in design, focus on “stats” and “data” and may include some social elements to them but do not explicitly gamify the experience.

On the other hand, there is at least one existing app (called: Habitica) that is extremely gamified, turning the entire experience of “life” into an RPG, including choosing an avatar, buying “kit”, doing “quests” and joining “guilds”.

While this app does the gamification element extremely well (or, rather, extremely consistently), we found the screen cluttered, the design too geeky and the mission “diluted”, as the tracker turns into its own game, rather than helping users save time and manage habits. Differently put, the gamification is a distraction in itself, rather than in service of a greater goal.

Thus, we set out to develop HabitHealth. We combine the cleanliness and social elements of a conventional habit tracker, with gamification elements suitable to the mainstream user, that allow users to enjoy a clean, cool, fresh and professional look, together with gamification features that help them achieve behaviour changes they want to monitor or work on.

On top of this, we have added a “green” dimension to our product. The idea here is that we combine doing something good for oneself (“bettering oneself”), consuming less with the concept of being ecologically aware, and also doing something good for someone else (“the planet”). This does not only reinforce the gamification components, but also adds social proof and helps users feel benefit and value in what they are doing: they are not only saving money on buying less takeout coffee, they are also feeling good, as they are saving the environment. Thus, we are creating a slick, integrated, easy to use habit tracker that generates excitement through gamification elements that combine social proof (friends) and ecological awareness (save the planet). We add “fun” reminders that, similar to duo lingo, create both positive reminders (support), as well as more action oriented ones (“challenges”) that encourage users to stick with their plans. Getting points and stats for achievements is more active than what other (passive) habit trackers do, but not as allconsuming and disruptive as the life-games a la Habitica.d

We believe that our product can have social influence on users’ behaviors as the app aligns with several of Cialdini’s principles. As a habit tracking app, users make “commitment to consistency” naturally when they start to use the app. The notifications also remind them about their commitments initially. Because we encourage users by giving them compliments when they are doing the challenges, the app is using the factor of “liking” to make people feel good when interacting with the product. Additionally, friends who are also doing challenges are “social proof,” and our science-based fun facts and explanations in the challenges have the element of “authority.”

The product also fits Fogg’s model. Users have the need and desire to create and maintain healthy habits, creating motivation for them to use HabitHealth. They also have the ability to use the app as it is free, easy to use, and seeks to integrate challenges into an already-established daily routine. Finally, if motivation to keep up with habits lapses at all, the app sends push notification reminders as prompts for the user to engage in and log healthy behavior. These factors help validate that the design of HabitHealth can attract users and inspire them to stay healthy.

See here a link to our presentation as well as additional screenshots and background research.