Have you heard of this app that has people everywhere buzzing? It isn’t new, but it might be new to you. HQ Trivia has games at 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends, with prizes typically ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 to be split among winners.

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This may be one person, several people or more, depending upon how many are eliminated by the final question. For example, on Christmas Eve, three people split a $1,500 jackpot. There have even been occasions where the jackpot was higher, such as $10,000, but those are infrequent.

So, What Is HQ Trivia?

HQ Trivia is a live mobile trivia app. All users need to enter a mobile number prior to joining. Then the system will send a six-digit code via SMS for you to verify.

The game is made up of 12 trivia questions, starting with easy questions and going to harder ones. The questions come from various genres. Answer one incorrect and you’re eliminated. You can gain extra lives by telling others about the game, though, and avoid elimination.

There is a lot of strategy to the game. The timer is very short, so there isn’t time to look answers up. But you can enlist the help of family and friends who are in the same room.

Hundreds of thousands of people play the game at any given time, which means it had better work well and be user-friendly. Here are some of the things HQ Trivia has taught me about UX, and what you can learn from the game as a UX designer.

1.  Scattered Spokesperson Still Holds Interests

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Maybe it’s just me, but I find Scott Rogowsky overwhelming at times. He’s so hyper you have to wonder how many coffees he had before he went on. He also talks and talks instead of getting to the correct answer (sorry, Scott). However, even though he is stalling half the time, he somehow holds my interest and I like him anyway.

As a UX designer, you begin to wonder how can you add some personality to your designs that will engage users and make them want to hang around?

2. Waiting Screen Is Appealing

When waiting for the game to start, there are geometric patterns that swirl around and hold the user’s interest. They aren’t distracting if you are working on other things, but they are pleasant to look at if you are not. It is not just a static, boring screen.

If you have an app that needs time to load or is a game that occurs at a set time each day, then a waiting screen is a must.

3. Countdown Gets Users Ready

When the game is within a couple of minutes of starting, a countdown clock begins. This serves to ramp up excitement about the game. As the clock counts down, the user knows the game is about to begin. A countdown clock can be somewhat interactive as well, turning a plain screen into a more exciting venture.

This technique works with apps and with websites. If you’re getting ready to unveil something new, for example, you can use a countdown clock to ramp up excitement for the big unveiling.

4. Don’t Forget Androids

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As of today, HQ Trivia is only available for iOS devices. However, it was announced that the app will be available to Android users come January 1st. Pre-registration is open now.

The takeaway? Make your app available for iOS and Android immediately. You’ll more than double your potential audience.

5.  Interactive Host Makes Things Personal

Okay, let’s get back to Scott. One great thing about Scott Rogowsky is that he interacts with those attending the game. He calls out names and locations and even recognizes a birthday or two at the beginning of the game.

You can do something similar by making sure you collect information from users in the beginning and then pointing out specific people as they join your app or game. The more personalized you can make the experience, the better.

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6. Dealing With Growing Pains

One thing that doesn’t always work great about HQ Trivia is that there are lags where the game freezes up. Scott Rogowsky has even received the honorable nickname of “Lag Daddy” by his fellow “HQuties”. Lags seems to happen more often when the most people are logged onto the game, but it is still a bit concerning as it impacts the overall experience. The questions seem to still pop up just fine, but some of the video streaming from the host is cumbersome and doesn’t work well.

Be prepared for rapid growth. Have a plan in place ahead of time that will create a seamless experience for users of your site or app.

7. Keeping Attention of Those Eliminated Early On

Even though the game starts with easy questions and goes up to harder questions — some called savage by the host — some people get eliminated pretty quickly. Even the first question loses a few players. The problem here is keeping these people engaged for the remainder of the game, once they no longer have a way to win money.

A smart idea here would be to offer an incentive to stick around for the entire game, such as a free life. Otherwise, people will just log off as soon as they are eliminated. What is the point of sticking around?


HQ Trivia is something that has really engaged users. People gather around the game at work or at home, working together to try to figure out the answers to that day’s trivia questions. As a UX designer, you have to tap into that level of engagement for your own designs. How can you get people to use and talk about your product?

About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

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