Hi fidelity image of power-up awarding screen.
Quizizz Gamification
A major update to the gamification features on quizzes to drive student engagement while retaining the core learning focus.


Strategy, Research, Design


Jan 2022 - Apr 2022

Cross-functional team

4 Engineers | 2 Designers | 1 PM | 1 Researcher
Want to skim through this case study? I got you covered.
Here's a 1 min TL;DR version.

What did I do?

I led the redesign intended to make power-ups a more essential part of the gameplay experience. The challenge was to increase engagement without taking away the core educational aspect of the product.

Why was it done?

As a B2C2B product, the idea was to make Quizizz the student’s and teacher’s preferred teaching/learning OS. This would in turn influence purchase decisions at the school and district levels.

What impact did it have?

The student Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating went up by 9 points.

What did I learn?

The thrill and challenges of designing for core production software and how to optimize gamification practices for the classroom.
Young kids in a classroom rejoicing while using Quizizz

What it's all about

1. Problem and Context

Students were asking for more gamification.
Sentiment analysis and other research suggested that students were starting to favor more gamified experiences offered by some of our competitors. While games are great for classroom engagement, it was against our principles of never compromising on being an educational-first product for our teachers.
Our product had to evolve to offer higher gamification while retaining the core quiz experience.
Classroom demand was core to the business.
As a B2C2B product, our goal was to make our end users (students in this case) vote for Quizizz when deciding on the assessment tool in the classroom.
This bottom-up approach of influencing the classroom demand, ultimately goes on to influence purchase decisions at the school and district levels.
Illustration of how happy students and happy teachers leads to a school buying Quizizz.

2. Existing Gamification Flow

1. Pre-game lobby
Students join the lobby and wait for other participants to join. Once everyone is in, the teacher starts the game.
Pre-game lobby
2. Select power-up
While on a question, students click the power-up button to open the activation drawer.
Quiz screen where you select power-up and click it.
3. Activate power-up
Read power-up description (optional) and click to activate.
Power-up drawer with description and activate button.
4. Utilize power-up and select answer
The power-up ability activates and you select the answer.
Power-up activates on the question where one of the wrong answers are removed.
5. Animated Leaderboard
See your total points and where you stand in the class.
A live leaderboard where you see your and everyone else's points.
6. In-game power-up awarding
1200 ms carousel animation leading to one power-up being awarded with a brief description.
Carousel animation that leads up to a power-up awarding.

3. Initial Research

Interviews and trial runs
We conducted interviews with teachers and in-person trial runs at a local school in Bengaluru, India. To check the new user experience, we ensured about half of the students were first-time users.
Illustration showing Virtual interviews and in-class trail runs.
Who were the people we were building for?
Young child in class description.48 year old social science teacher who cares about her class.
Quiz experience journey mapping
Young child in class description.
The goal:
Come up with a new game mode that offers enhanced gamification without compromising on the educational aspect of the product.
Opportunities we identified:
Pre-game experience is a bore.
Students who joined the quiz first would get bored waiting for everyone else to join. This was also  not ideal for teachers, who had to keep those students engaged while instructing/helping others to join.
Power-ups are seen as a skippable element.
Particularly for first-time users, many did not interact with the power-ups and were focused on just answering the questions.
The points experience lacks impact.
In classrooms without a projector, it was very important to emphasize the leaderboard and points system to create a sense of competition among the students.

4. Early Ideas

Some early concepts we explored
Illustration to show a coin wallet that the student can use to purchase power-ups.
In-game marketplace
Power-ups unlock with coins which are gained for answering questions correctly.
Illustration to show how students can choose to keep or discard an awarded power-ups in their belt.
Belt concept
Get a new power-up randomly after every 1-2 questions, keep what you want and discard what you don’t.
Illustration to show how students are provided with all power-ups at the start and they can choose which to take with them in their belt for the next question.
All power-ups + Belt
All power-ups are provided at the start for one-time use, pick and take up to three (in your belt) before going into a question screen.

5. Test Iteration

Pre-game screen
More engagement in the waiting screen
Students get 3 starter power-ups which they can shuffle upto 3 times. This was intended to keep students engaged and get them excited about power-ups.
A waiting screen that allows students to shuffle their starter power-ups upto three times.
In-between questions
More focus on awarded power-ups
Power-ups are presented to have more focus on the power-up abilities themselves and not the awarding animation.
Power-up awarding screen that has three awarded power-ups displayed prominently with descriptions of each.
Points breakdown given due importance
Redesigned point awarding experience to to give students more of an idea of how different features benefit them.
The leaderboard screen with a lot of emphasis on the points breakdown for a student's answer.
Question screen
Faster power-up application
Power-ups now have one click application and expire after *n number of turns.
*n=8 for quizzes with <=15 questions, n=10 for quizzes with >15 questions.
A question screen showing how you can see the power-up description when hovering over the power-up.
A/B testing with real users.
We tested both the new and the existing interactions with the internal team as well as with actual users both over video call and in a special session at the Quizizz office where we invited students from local schools to come participate in out testing event.
Two images of school children at the Quizizz Bengaluru office trying out the new gamification features on the platform.

Students trying out the new gamification features at the Quizizz office

And what we took away from that...
✅ What worked
  • Pre-game waiting screen now had a fun element to it.
  • Students could see how power-ups gave them extra points.
  • Faster power-up application.
  • The incentive to use power-ups before they expire.
❌ What did not
  • The leaderboard screen was cluttered with too many numbers, the leaderboard and points breakdown animation was taking too long.
  • First time student users were unsure of what a power-up does.

6. Launch version (100% production)

The new updates and why we made them.
Engaging waiting screen
We identified that teachers struggled to keep students focused during the pre-game session. Adding the shuffle functionality to power-ups keeps students occupied and also helps familiarise them with power-ups.
A zoomed in view of the power-up shuffle feature on the student waiting screen.
Emphasis on points after answering a question
Instead of showing the points distribution in the leaderboard screen (where it was perceived as too chaotic) it made more sense to have it shown on the screen with the question.

Answer question -> See points -> See leaderboard
Zoomed in view of points breakdown that is now displayed on the question screen itself.
Power-ups now had a shelf life
Power-ups expire after ‘n’ questions and students are made aware of that. This was done to create a sense of urgency and encourage use of power-ups.
Zoomed in view of all your power-ups in your belt showing how many questions they will expire in.
The new Quiz Experience
Bonus addition
Nudges for new users
We added nudges to help new student users (<5 games) apply power-ups. For a power-up like Eraser, the logic was set that it would wait till a student spent at least half the time allotted to the question before appearing.
This was meant to help new users discover power-ups as a feature.
Zoomed in view of how nudges appear over suitable power-ups to help students discover them.

7. Impact metrics

Total power-ups activated per game

+104% 🤯

Power-ups activation rate (per 100 awarded)

And most importantly ...

Student NPS rating

So, did we succeed?
The new gamification features were so successful and loved by our users that rather than being offered as an additional game mode, it became the default quiz mode on Quizizz! 🎉

8. Inferences and Learnings

First project as a lead designer.
As my first big project as the lead designer on the Student Engagement team, it’s safe to say that it was a steep learning curve for me. My time on this project not only helped me learn so many things on the technical side of shipping a product, but also how to effectively communicate with all levels of designers, engineers, product managers, sales and marketing individuals.
I fell in love with gamification!
This project introduced me to the world of gamification in education. I had a great time researching and looking into gamification and student engagement techniques employed by other wonderful tools like Duolingo, Kahoots and Flipgrid.
Pushing the envelope can work.
While working on this, we were fully aware that the new design might be met with criticism owing to it’s strong lean towards gamification and the resulting potential to disrupt a class setting. This is exactly why we decided to test the feature in real life classrooms and see the effect before launching to our users. The outcome, however, was met with great enthusiasm from our user base and personally, gave me a lot of confidence in considering bolder design decisions.

Thanks for reading :)

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