Problem summary

Provide a feeling of closure by rewarding users at the completion of a goal

Example

digg.com

When you've completed the digg.com sign up process, the completion of the process is communicated as a victory, where after the next levels or objectives of the "game" are presented.

Usage

  • Use when you want to direct users’ action toward a specific end-goal
  • Use when you want to provide users with a tangible end-goal that they can strive toward achieving
  • Use when you want to communicate the end of one part of a process and present what’s next

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Solution

If your application is geared toward a purpose with an end goal, you can use the fact the our Need for closure drive us toward a well defined end-goal.

Optionally, you can divide a larger task into fewer sub-tasks and use the completion of each sub-task to give the user a break and/or communicate what is next.

Set and communicate expectations and progress.

They key is to set expectations and communicate progress in order to utilize the motivational powers of this reward. Expectations can be set and communicated in multiple dimensions:

  • In time, how long is the process
  • In resources, how much effort is to be put into the process of reaching completion. How many man hours, money, etc. is to be put into reaching the end-goal.
  • In quality, what are the requirements of completing sub-tasks or entirely completing a process.
  • In progress, how much of the whole process has already been completed. How many resources, how much time, and in what quality can I expect to deliver in order to reach completion?

Making the completion official

If completing the end-goal of the application entitles to bragging rights, provide a way for users to communicate their completion. Common ways to communicate completion are:

  • Badges, trophies, and achievements – as when unlocking a Super Swarm Badge on Foursquare or achieving the Booster badge on stackoverflow.com.
  • Certification – as when you complete a course and become a certified engineer.
  • Diploma – as when you complete an education an reach a degree.

Rationale

Our need for closure and completion drives us toward action. Find ways to celebrate completion in order to motivate and engage users to take action. Divide larger tasks into sub-tasks, and reward users for completion of each. Use the opportunity to set expectations and to communicate the overall progress and what is next.


More examples of the Completion pattern See all 4 example screenshots

User Interface Design Patterns