The original first ever game on Facebook, Zynga Poker introduced a viral gaming sensation 10 years ago that reached over 10 million monthly active users with its engaging, original and performant real-time online Poker game. As a Senior User Experience Designer, I contributed to the design strategy and execution in the recent 4 years for features including Leagues, Challenges, Playoffs, Tournaments, Events and many other UX improvements.
Players can finally send private messages to Poker buddies. The addition of Social Center manages a list of Poker buddies that were added during gameplay. Social Hub also allows players to quickly find out if their buddies are online and quickly join them at their table. The Social Center marked the beginning of a series of social features in Zynga Poker.
Poker Leagues was a feature that enables player to compete in weekly rankings in exchange for a prestige position. Players who come out on top will rise to the top of the leaderboard and be able to show off their shiny exclusive League badges to other competing players. My contributions with Leagues were the UX flow, UI design, iconography and Unity implementation. Leagues was one of the feature that contributed to the upward trend of Zynga Poker.
With the product owner in collaboration, we were able to define the Leagues feature with User Stories as our basis. I then take the requirements and sort it against the information structure we have pre-defined. At the end of the exercise we were able to create an architecture that fulfills our user stories.
As usual, wireframes first before visual design:
Below are the Leagues Center final comps:
Poker Challenges brings exciting mini-goals for Poker players to unlock great rewards. Challenges ranges from winning a targeted amount of chip stack at cash tables, winning Sit-N-Go or Shootout tournaments, provide excellent incentives to continue playing in the core loop. Poker Challenges enhances the Poker experience so much that it was the key driver in the upward trend of Zynga Poker.
While I wasn’t the lead designer on this feature, I contributed heavily in the prototyping, and user testing.
Poker Playoffs was an extension of Leagues. Players would compete in the weekly ranking promotions and offered a chance to play at the monthly Playoffs tournament.
With the partnership between WPT (World Poker Tournaments) and Zynga Poker, the team has dedicated an effort to consolidate all our tournament game modes into one single lobby destination – the Tournament Center. Few additional modes will be introduced when Tournament Center rolls live later in Q3 of 2018.
The Stamp Card feature aimed to replicate the loyalty card commonly offered at pop-up restaurants or small specialty food shops. When a player makes enough purchases of chip packages, we would award them with a bonus chip package. The feature was a small endeavor that would make a huge impact on long-term revenue.
Here are few other UX improvements I’ve made over the course of time I served on the Zynga Poker team.
Hand Clarity solved the long time issue with users misunderstanding the winner(s) of each hand and subsequently leaving poor reviews on the Appstore. The problem stemmed from mis-reading the make-up of the winner’s hand. By adding smaller representation of the cards at the win banner, users can quickly glance and know what the winning hand is. Upon finishing the feature, the team was recognized with the Player-Love award.
It is surprising since this game has been around for 10 years and yet we don’t have a system in place to incentivize players to stay with Zynga Poker. Hence comes forth the Progression Feature. Progression introduces a reward system that grants users a loot case once they’ve hit pre-defined milestones. For example, when users grind to lv. 20 through winning hands or participating in special event, a loot case will be awarded to them as a milestone celebration.
Using Flinto, I was able to bring our ideas to life.
The buy page is considered the most sensitive, change-resistant, page of the entire game for obvious reasons. Therefore making major changes in the buy page requires layers and layers of approvals and testing cycles and design decisions were not made hastily.
Not until recently, we were able to overhaul our outdated Buy Page. The new Buy Page features a refreshed UI featuring larger sized packages. Artwork was redone to accommodate the cards design.
This one was rather small improvement, the paytable of our slot machine always had our players scratching heads. This is an effort to combine two paytables into one screen to simplify and to explain accurately what the exact payouts are.
I frequently used Photoshop and its 3D capability to do really quick graphics work.