Yes. People actually play Cityville. In fact, a lot of people play Cityville.
Zynga’s annualized revenue this year will be over $1 Billion.
CityVille has 55M daily active users. Wait, what?
Zynga is known for meticulously testing every UI decision. By being data-driven, they’ve grow a massive user base. But it also means that we can assume that their UI represents “best practices” for social applications. Below the fold, I break down what makes Cityville so damn succesfull.
1. Big Obnoxious Landing Page
The landing page is clear, and the call-to-action button is above the fold. Oh, and it’s super-duper-bright-and-colorful.
Takeaway: Make your landing pages obnoxious.
2. Viral Lift/Cross Promotion a.k.a Like!Share!Zynga!Share!
There is a “Like” button on top throughout the entire game that links to the game’s app page. Additionally, there is cross-promotion to Zynga’s other awkward game, Lighthouse Cove.
On the bottom of the main game screen, there is a bar which encourages you to add your friends to your neighborhood. When you click these buttons, it goes to a screen where it says this will unlock “new buildings and get more gifts.” An interesting part of this dialog is that it is designed to look much like the actual Facebook UI. It has the same type of blue and the same button style. This increases trust and makes people annoy their friends more.
Takeaway: People will harass their friends for a fake house…if you make the UI look like an official Facebook dialog.
3. Social Lift via Events
Share the news! Seriously, do it.
Notice how big, green, and obvious the share button is, while how non-obvious the exit button is. The result is that it is very natural to just click through the share button.
Takeaway: Share everything! And make it seem natural to share (by giant green buttons and such)
4. Email, yes email
In the world of the social share, the good ol’ email still is an effective tool for getting users for a Facebook app, apparently.
Takeaway: People will harass their friends via email for virtual houses.
Again, notice how the send button looks like the official Facebook UI. I’m assuming this makes people more likely to click through.
Takeaway: Virtual goods + Fake Facebook UI = $1billion.
So that’s it. We’ve deconstructed Cityville and come to what was a probably an obvious conclusion:
- Big, bright, and obnoxious works.
- People will do crazy things when they are mayors of a virtual town.
- If you make your app UI mirror the Facebook UI, people will be tricked into annoying their friends more.
- If you have multiple games, cross-promotion is key.
- Cityville is kind of sketchy.