Mobile Design
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A Look at How the Gaming Industry does UX/UI

The Tribe
May 28, 2019

UX = User Experience. What decisions are made when interacting with an app. How does the app function?

UI =  User Interface. What kind of visuals are being used and how does that add value to the user’s journey through the product?

A website or app can look beautiful but be frustrating to use, or really easy to navigate but look unappealing. A balance of the two needs to be struck in order to have a more successful product that users are willing to use and ultimately rely on.

Why is it important?

We’ve all done it- gone to the app store on your mobile devices to look at something worth downloading only to find it has a whopping 1-star overall rating. Most of the time, the complaints are about usability or functionality. These users could be raving customers if only the app developers took the time to implement some UX/UI practices or design thinking.

UX/UI Practices in the Gaming World:

An industry who has rapidly incorporated and benefited from the value of UX/UI is gaming. The gaming industry is known for its Quality Assurance departments and the culture of testing (or sometimes lack of testing) products before they go out. It’s natural for them to adopt the practice of creating and testing interfaces when they have them in their own products and are constantly changing and updating them. Play can also follow a process similar to designing interactive applications. See how the following apps in the gaming industry entice and maintain their audience’s attention through good UX/UI practices and their room to grow.


Discord is a VOIP system that attracts around 130 million users. How? Their brand is fun, their service is reliable and their product is relatively easy to use while being attractive and customizable:

What they do well:

  • Private channels of chat that let you interact with your friends as well as Discord partners (pseudo-internet celebrities that the fan might otherwise not get contact with)
  • Customizable features like emotes, gifs and high res videos to send and receive from others
  • Fun branding and animations to go along with some functions

What they could improve:

  • The learning curve is a little high when first joining the app, not a clear place to start unless you already have friends using it
  • The overlay doesn’t always work on older games
  • No way to add potential friends you recently played with


Twitch is an app that lets you watch and stream games online while interacting with an audience of viewers.

What they do well:

  • Chat is fun to use and is unique depending on the channel you are on
  • Able to subscribe and change channels with ease
  • Super responsive, everything flexes no matter the size

What they can improve:

  • No real incentive to have friends or communicate with them
  • Some external add-ons are required to get the most out of the experience and sometimes they are unreliable


Steam is an app that lets you buy and review games, play games online with friends and has the potential for you to even publish your own games.

What they do right:

  • Vast library of games that are easily categorized
  • Active community that is able to upload and review games easily
  • Achievements and Badges for gaming “bragging rights”
  • Can launch any of your purchased or liked games through the app, benefitting from their overlay

What they could improve:

  • Voice chat system is unreliable and a pain to set up every time
  • Text chat system doesn’t maintain records and doesn’t have customization
  • Searching for friends can be frustrating if you don’t have their exact combination right is Activision/Blizzard’s app that hosts their online games and connects the people who play them.

What they do right:

  • Easy to digest information about each game’s updates and promotions
  • You can launch any of their games through the app
  • Information you need like News and Shopping are available through the app so you don’t need to visit any external websites

What they could improve:

  • Chat records don’t stay for long and can be easily missed
  • Phone version is only for chatting. It doesn’t have a way to access the other apps they provide all in one like the desktop version does.

Each of these apps are well designed, responsive and functional. They’ve also come a long way since their first iterations, showing us that it doesn’t have to be perfect and it never will be. We keep ideating, testing, integrating, and refining, pushing ideas and boundaries when we can, but ultimately it comes down to what works right now for our audiences. Cheers to the fellow designers, testers and users out there who are making good interactive design more necessary and delightful.

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