Hooked

Hooked

Author
Nir Eyal
Year
2013
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Review

The book details how habit-forming products are created using the Hooked Model. It covers the four phases of the model - Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, and Investment - and provides insights on designing products that capture users' attention and become habitual. It emphasizes the importance of understanding internal and external triggers, making actions easy to take, providing variable rewards, and encouraging user investment.

The book also highlights the ethical considerations of building persuasive products. The author proposes two questions to assess these considerations: "Would you use it?" and "Is it making people's lives better?"

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Key Takeaways

The 20% that gave me 80% of the value.

  • Habits are automatic behaviours triggered by situational cues. They are things we do with little or no conscious thought.
  • Products are engineered and designed to tempt us into habitual usage during our daily routines.
  • The Hooked Model is a four-phase process that companies use to create unprompted user engagement and habitual usage.
  • The Hooked Model
    1. Trigger: A trigger sparks the behaviour in habit-forming products. Triggers can be inside or outside the product; they cue your next behaviour.
    2. Action: The action is the behaviour that's done in anticipation of a reward. Companies can encourage users to take more actions by enhancing their motivation and simplifying the product so they're easier to do.
    3. Variable Reward: Variable rewards help hook users by creating a craving. The expectation of reward creates dopamine, suppressing judgment and activating desire.
    4. Investment: If the user makes an investment (e.g. time, data, effort, social capital, or money), it increases the odds they'll revisit the cycle in the future.
  • Half of our daily actions are habitual, done with little or no conscious thought.
  • Habits allow us to focus our attention on other things. The brain codifies actions in certain situations so it can reduce unnecessary deliberation.
  • Habit-forming products create unprompted user engagement. The behaviour occurs as an automatic response to a cue. The user is automatically triggered to use the product during routine events, without overt calls to action.
  • Products that leverage your habits are valuable because they… increase customer lifetime value, decrease price sensitivity, supercharge growth and help form a competitive moat.
  • Old habits die hard and new products need to offer dramatic improvements (e.g. 10x) to shake users out of old routines.
  • The more frequently a new behaviour, the stronger the habit becomes. Habits keep users loyal. People don’t think about whether or not to use Google; they just do. Often engagement makes algorithms and products more effective resulting in virtuous cycle.
  • Your product has habit-forming potential if it’s used frequently and people are motivated to use it
  • Habit-forming technologies can be both vitamins and painkillers. At first they seem like nice-to-have vitamins, but once the habit is established, they provide an ongoing pain remedy.
  • Habits can be healthy or unhealthy. Addictions are self-destructive and cause harm. Creating an addictive product would mean you’re intentionally hurting people.

Triggers

  • Habits are formed over time, but the chain reaction starts with a trigger.
  • Habit-forming products cue users with a call to action.
  • Types of External Triggers: Companies can utilise four types of external triggers:
    • Paid Triggers: E.g. Paid Ads get users attention and prompt an action. Habit-forming companies don’t rely on paid triggers as much as other companies.
    • Earned Triggers: E.g. Favourable press mentions or being featured on the app store. Effective at driving awareness but short-lived.
    • Relationship Triggers: E.g. word of mouth referrals.
    • Owned Triggers: E.g. an app icon, consistently show up in daily life.
  • The goal of external triggers is to propel users into successive cycles of the Hooked Model so they do not need further prompting from external triggers.
  • Internal Triggers manifest in the mind and include emotions and routine.
  • Negative emotions (boredom, loneliness, frustration) are powerful internal triggers. They instigate a pain or irritation that prompts action. The discomfort can be below the perceptibility of consciousness.
  • New habits are sparked by external triggers, but internal triggers keep users hooked.
  • To create habit-forming products, designers must understand the user's pain and emotional triggers. By creating associations with internal triggers and addressing user pain points, companies can build solutions that become habitual for users.

Actions

  • To initiate action, doing must be easier than thinking. The more effort to perform the desired action, the less likely it is to occur.
  • Fogg posits three things need to be true to initiate a behaviour/action. The user must have sufficient motivation. The user must have the ability to complete the desired action, A trigger must be present to activate the behaviour.
  • While a trigger cues an action, motivation defines the level of desire to take that action.
  • The right motivators create action by offering the promise of desirable outcomes.
  • Three Simple Steps to Creating Truly Innovative Products
    1. Understand the reason people use a product or service.
    2. Lay out the steps the customer must take to get the job done.
    3. Start removing steps until you reach the simplest possible process.
  • Fogg’s Six Elements of Simplicity:
    1. Time - how long it takes to complete an action
    2. Money - the fiscal cost of taking an action
    3. Physical effort - the amount of labor involved in taking the action
    4. Brain cycles - the level of mental effort and focus required to take an action
    5. Social deviance - how accepted the behavior is by others
    6. Non-routine - how much the action matches or disrupts existing routines
  • Google reduced the amount of time and the cognitive effort required to find what the user was looking for.
  • Heuristics for boosting motivation:
    • Scarcity Effect: The appearance of scarcity affects our perception of value.
    • Framing Effect: Context also shapes our perception. The mind takes shortcuts informed by our surroundings to make quick and judgments.
    • Anchoring Effect: People often anchor to a piece of information when making a decision.
    • Endowed Progress Effect: our motivation increases if we believe we are nearing a goal.
  • Map the user journey from trigger to desired outcome. Count the number of steps it takes before users obtain the reward they came for. Compare with competing products and services. Brainstorm three testable ways to make the intended tasks easier to complete. Consider applying heuristics to make habit-forming actions more likely.

Variable Reward

  • Reward your users by solving a problem, reinforcing their motivation for the action taken.
  • Our brains release dopamine in anticipation of reward (not when we receive it). We are driven to act not by the reward sensation, but by the need to satisfy the craving for the reward.
  • Intermittent reward greatly enhances habit strength, increasing the frequency of the intended action. It spikes dopamine.
  • Variable rewards come in three types: the tribe, the hunt, and the self.
    • Tribe: Driven by our connectedness with other people
    • Hunt: Pursuing and capturing something, satisfying our innate desire to acquire resources and information.
      • Humans have always enjoyed chasing and hunting. In the past, we would separate an animal from its herd and exhaust it by running for hours and miles until we caught and killed it. The pursuit was driven by the reward of the pursuit.
      • The need to acquire objects and supplies that aid our survival, is part of our brain's operating system.
      • Social media feeds are about the hunt.
    • Self: Personal gratification and a sense of competency drive users to overcome obstacles and achieve goals, even when they don't find enjoyment in the process (e.g. a jigsaw puzzle).
      • Intrinsic motivation drives us to gain a sense of competency.
      • E.g. video games, inbox zero, wikipedia contribution
  • Maintain a sense of autonomy and freedom of choice. Using heavy-handed tactics will cause your audience to lose trust. By allowing users to maintain their freedom, you can disarm their instinctive rejection of being told what to do.
  • Products with finite variability suffer from declining power from variable rewards. The products become less engaging and more predictable (e.g. Zynga / Farmville).

Investment

  • The escalation of commitment: The more we invest time and effort into something, the more we value it. Labour leads to love.
  • This is due to three effects:
    • We irrationally value our efforts - When users invest their own effort and labor, they tend to value the end result more. This is known as the IKEA effect.
    • We seek to be consistent with our past behaviours - Our past is an excellent predictor of our future. A study showed homeowners were more willing to place a large sign on their lawn if they’d already agreed to placing a smaller one.
    • We avoid cognitive dissonance - to avoid the cognitive dissonance of not liking something that others seem to, we slowly change our perception.
  • Investments are about the anticipation of longer-term rewards, not immediate gratification.
    • Following people on Twitter is an investment which increases the likelihood of returning in the future.
  • In contrast to the action phase, the investment phase increases friction.
  • In the action phase make actions as simple as possible BUT ask for an investment after a reward and you can increase engagement.
  • Software can adapt to user needs and enhance the experience by utilising their investments in the product.
  • Types of investment:
    • Data: Users invest in a service by adding their personal data, increasing their commitment to the platform.
    • Followers: Collecting and following the right people adds value to the product and keeps users engaged.
    • Reputation: Building a positive reputation on online platforms enhances user experience and increases trust.
    • Skill: Investing time and effort to learn and acquire skills within a product leads to easier usage and reduces the likelihood of switching to a competitor.
  • Practical questions to ask about your users and your product:
    • What do users really want?
    • What pain is your product relieving? (Internal trigger)
    • What brings users to your service? (External trigger)
    • What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action)
    • Are users fulfilled by the reward yet left wanting more? (Variable reward)
    • What "bit of work" do users invest in your product? Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)
  • The power to build persuasive products should be used with caution.
  • Is social media the 21st century cigarette? We haven't yet developed antibodies to these new addictions.
  • Two key questions to guide your moral compass:
    • Do you use the product yourself?
    • Will the product help people improve their lives?
  • You have a moral obligation to inform and protect users who are forming unhealthy attachments to your product.

Habit Testing

  • Run your idea through the four phases of the model will help you discover potential weaknesses in your product’s habit-forming potential. Practical Questions:
    • Does your users’ internal trigger frequently prompt them to action?\
    • Is your external trigger cueing them when they are most likely to act?
    • Is your design simple enough to make taking the action easy?
    • Does the reward satisfy your users’ need while leaving them wanting more?
    • Do your users invest a bit of work in the product, storing value to improve the experience with use and loading the next trigger?
  • Habit Testing in three steps
    1. Identify: Find out how many habitual users you have. Define how often a devoted user "should" use your product based on industry benchmarks for different categories.
    2. Codify: Analyse the steps taken by devoted users, understand what hooked them. You’re looking for a habit path → a series of actions shared by your most loyal users.
    3. Modify: Modify the user experience to encourage this behaviour. Identify ways to nudge new users down the same Habit Path taken by devotees (e.g. update registration funnel, remove a feature etc)
  • Habit Testing is an ongoing process for every new feature and product iteration. Track users by cohort and compare their activity.

Discovering Habit-forming Opportunities

  • Build for your own needs, what problem do you wish someone would solve for you?
  • Technologies that appear niche can cross into the mainstream if they cater to a broad need. Many world-changing innovations were written off as novelties.
  • Enabling Technologies come in waves. They start with infrastructure, then enabling technologies and platforms create the basis for new types of applications that cause a gathering wave to achieve massive penetration and customer adoption. New technologies create new possibilities by making behaviours easier. Look for technologies that make cycling through the Hooked Model faster, more frequent, or more rewarding.
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Deep Summary

Longer form notes, typically condensed, reworded and de-duplicated.

Introduction

  • We’re hooked. We 97% of smartphone owners check their device within fifteen minutes of waking up. We check our phones 150 times a day.
  • Habits are automatic behaviours triggered by situational cues. They are things we do with little or no conscious thought.
  • Products are engineered and designed to tempt us into habitual usage during our daily routines.
  • Product companies need to form habitual usage to be viable, it provides a way to escape usage of expensive marketing
  • The Hooked Model is a four-phase process companies use to form habits. Although the model is cyclical, and is designed to be repeated.
  • The ultimate goal of the Hooked Model is to create unprompted user engagement, bringing users back repeatedly, without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.
  • The Hooked Model
    1. Trigger: A trigger sparks the behaviour in habit-forming products. Triggers can be inside or outside the product. Users form associations with triggers, they become part of their everyday routine, automatically cueing their next behavior.
    2. Action: Following the trigger comes the action: the behaviour that’s done in anticipation of a reward. Companies can encourage users to take more actions by enhancing their motivation and simplifying the process.
    3. Variable Reward: Variable rewards help hook users by create a craving. The expectation of reward creates dopamine, suppressing judgment and activating desire.
    4. Investment: If the user makes an investment (e.g. time, data, effort, social capital, or money) it increases the odds they’ll revisit the cycle in the future.
  • Choice architecture offers techniques to influence people’s decisions and affect their behaviour. We should be nudging people toward better choices.
  • The model is a practical tool for innovators who aim to use habits for good.
  • Hooks connect the user’s problem with a company’s solution frequently enough to form a habit.

Chapter 1: The Habit Zone

  • Half of our daily actions are habitual, done with little or no conscious thought.
  • Habits allow us to focus our attention on other things. Habits are automated responses stored in the basal ganglia (with involuntary actions). The brain codifies actions in certain situations and stops deliberating over what to do.
  • Habit-forming products create unprompted user engagement. The behaviour occurs as an automatic response to a cue. The user is automatically triggered to use the product during routine events, without overt calls to action.
  • Habits are so valuable because they:
    • Increase customer lifetime value: by encouraging longer and more frequent usage of a product.
    • Decrease price sensitivity: Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger found that as customers form routines around a product, they become less price-sensitive.
    • Supercharge growth: Users who continuously find value in a product are more likely to tell their friends about it, and can be exposed to more prompts to invite others.
      • Viral Cycle Time is amount of time it takes a user to invite another user, and it can have a massive impact on growth. More frequent usages decreases Viral Cycle Time and increases growth as more people are taking actions, and more people are responding to actions. The cycle accelerates with higher and higher user engagement.
    • They form a competitive moat: Products that change customer routines are less susceptible to attacks from other companies. Old habits die hard and new products need to offer dramatic improvements (e.g. 10x) to shake users out of old routines.
    • Users build up nontransferable value in some products, reducing the likelihood of switching.
  • Changing long term habits is hard, rare and valuable. You need to capture users, but also get them into patterns of repeat behaviour.
  • Old habits die hard. People rarely change their habits for long. The habits you’ve most recently acquired are also the ones most likely to go soonest.
  • The more frequently a new behaviour, the stronger the habit becomes. Habits keep users loyal. People don’t think about whether or not to use Google; they just do. Often engagement makes algorithms and products more effective resulting in virtuous cycle.
  • Assess habit-forming potential by plotting frequency against perceived utility. For an infrequent action to become a habit → the perceived reward must be higher. Behaviours with enough frequency and utility are in the Habit Zone and will become habitual.
  • Most habit forming products are used daily, or multiple times per day.
  • Vitamins vs Painkillers
    • All successful innovations solve problems. Are you building a vitamin or painkiller?
      • Painkillers solve an obvious need and relieve a specific pain.
      • Vitamins appeal to users' emotional rather than functional needs.
  • Habit-forming technologies can be both, at first they seem like nice-to-have vitamins, but once the habit is established, they provide an ongoing pain remedy.A habit creates an itch, a discomfort when not doing the action.
  • Habits can be healthy or unhealthy. Addictions are self-destructive and cause harm. Creating an addictive product would mean you’re intentionally hurting people.

Chapter 2: Trigger

  • Habits are formed over time, but the chain reaction starts with a trigger.
    • Habit-forming products cue users with a call to action. External triggers often clearly tell the user what action to do next.
      • Often too many choices cause hesitation, confusion, and abandonment. Reduce the thinking required to take the next action → increases the chance of the behaviour happening without much thought.
  • Types of External Triggers: Companies can utilise four types of external triggers:
    • Paid Triggers: E.g. Paid Ads get users attention and prompt an action. Habit-forming companies don’t rely on paid triggers as much as other companies.
    • Earned Triggers: E.g. Favourable press mentions or being featured on the app store. Effective at driving awareness but short-lived.
    • Relationship Triggers: E.g. word of mouth referrals.
    • Owned Triggers: E.g. an app icon, consistently show up in daily life.
  • Owned triggers prompt repeat engagement, without them it is difficult to cue users frequently enough to change their behaviour.
  • The goal of external triggers is to propel users into successive cycles of the Hooked Model so they do not need further prompting from external triggers.
  • Internal Triggers
  • Internal Triggers can’t be seen, touched or heard. Internal triggers include emotions and routines. They manifest in the mind.
  • Negative emotions (boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and indecisiveness) are powerful internal triggers. They instigate a pain or irritation that prompts an instantaneous mindless action to resolve them.
  • The discomfort can be below the perceptibility of consciousness.
  • Gradually bonds cement into habits as users turn to your product when experiencing certain internal triggers.
  • Tech solutions can provide frequent psychological relief. People who are depressed use the internet more, to relieve their negative emotions.
  • Once users are engaged, products don't require explicit calls to action. Emotional responses naturally guide the desired behavior. Products provide quick relief. Once a technology is established in users' minds, they will return without external prompts. The next steps are encoded as learned associations in the user's memory.
  • New habits are sparked by external triggers, but internal triggers keep users hooked.
  • For Instagram I use it when I feel bad because I want to see something cool that makes me feel better.

Building for Triggers

  • To create habit-forming products, designers must understand the user's pain and emotional triggers. This requires diving deeper into the mind of the consumer and identifying universal human needs.
  • Talking to users may not reveal their true motivations, so looking for discrepancies and asking "Why?" multiple times can uncover hidden desires.
  • By creating associations with internal triggers and addressing user pain points, companies can build solutions that become habitual for users.

Chapter 3: Action

  • The trigger, driven by internal or external cues, informs the user of what to do next; however, if the user does not take action, the trigger is useless. To initiate action, doing must be easier than thinking. Remember, a habit is a behavior done with little or no conscious thought. The more effort—either physical or mental—required to perform the desired action, the less likely it is to occur.
  • Fogg posits that there are three ingredients required to initiate any and all behaviors: (1) the user must have sufficient motivation; (2) the user must have the ability to complete the desired action; and (3) a trigger must be present to activate the behavior.
  • If any component of this formula is missing or inadequate, the user will not cross the "Action Line" and the behavior will not occur.
  • While a trigger cues an action, motivation defines the level of desire to take that action.
  • Fogg states that all humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain; to seek hope and avoid fear; and finally, to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection. The two sides of the three Core Motivators can be thought of as levers to increase or decrease the likelihood of someone's taking a particular action by increasing or decreasing that person's motivation.
  • While internal triggers are the frequent, everyday itch experienced by users, the right motivators create action by offering the promise of desirable outcomes (i.e., a satisfying scratch).
  • In "Three Simple Steps to Creating Truly Innovative Products," Hauptly breaks down the innovation process into three key steps. First, understand why people use a product or service. Next, outline the necessary customer actions. Finally, simplify the process by eliminating unnecessary steps. Hauptly believes that simpler is better. Technology or products that streamline tasks will be more widely adopted.
  • Just 25 years ago, dial-up Internet was seen as magical. Now, we can't stand using slow modems anymore since we're used to always-on, high-speed connections. Emails are instantly sent to our devices.
  • Evan Williams, cofounder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, follows Hauptly's innovation formula: "Identify a longstanding human desire and use modern technology to simplify its fulfilment.”
  • The pattern of innovation shows that making an action easier drives each phase of the web, turning content publishing from niche to mainstream.
  • To simplify a product, we must remove user obstacles. According to the Fogg Behavior Model, ability is the capacity to perform a behavior.
  • Fogg’s 6 Elements of Simplicity - factors that influence a tasks difficulty:
    1. Time - how long it takes to complete an action
    2. Money - the fiscal cost of taking an action
    3. Physical effort - the amount of labor involved in taking the action
    4. Brain cycles - the level of mental effort and focus required to take an action
    5. Social deviance - how accepted the behavior is by others
    6. Non-routine - how much the action matches or disrupts existing routines
  • Twitter enables people to easily share articles, videos, photos, and other web content using the Twitter Button. To simplify link sharing, Twitter developed an embeddable Tweet button for third-party websites. This button allows visitors to tweet directly from the page with just one click.
  • Simply put, Google reduced the amount of time and the cognitive effort required to find what the user was looking for.
  • While the law may seem simple, it has exceptions, just like other theories of human behavior. Behavioral economics, studied by experts like Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, revealed exceptions to the rational model of human behavior.
  • Companies can boost users' motivation or increase their ability by understanding heuristics—the mental shortcuts we take to make decisions and form opinions.
    • Scarcity Effect: The appearance of scarcity affected their perception of value.
    • Framing Effect: Context also shapes perception. The mind takes shortcuts informed by our surroundings to make quick and sometimes erroneous judgments. When Bell performed his concert in the subway station, few stopped to listen. But when framed in the context of a concert hall, he can charge beaucoup bucks.
    • Anchoring Effect: People often anchor to one piece of information when making a decision.
    • Endowed Progress Effect: The study demonstrates the endowed progress effect, a phenomenon that increases motivation as people believe they are nearing a goal.
  • Walk through the path your users would take to use your product or service, beginning from the time they feel their internal trigger to the point where they receive their expected outcome.
  • Count the number of steps it takes before users obtain the reward they came for.
  • Compare this process with the simplicity of some of the examples described in this chapter and with competing products and services.
  • Identify the resources that may limit users' ability to accomplish the tasks that will become habits, such as time, money, social deviance, physical effort, or non-routine actions.
  • Brainstorm three testable ways to make the intended tasks easier to complete.
  • Consider applying heuristics to make habit-forming actions more likely.

Chapter 4: Variable Reward

  • Reward your users by solving a problem, reinforcing their motivation for the action taken.
  • Our brains release dopamine not when we receive a reward, but rather in anticipation of it. We are driven to act not by the reward sensation, but by the need to satisfy the craving for the reward.
  • Intermittent reward greatly enhances habit strength, increasing the frequency of the intended action. It spikes dopamine.
  • Variable rewards can be found in many products that hold our attention.
  • Variable rewards come in three types: the tribe, the hunt, and the self.
    • Tribe: Driven by our connectedness with other people
    • Hunt: Pursuing and capturing something, satisfying our innate desire to acquire resources and information.
      • Humans have always enjoyed chasing and hunting. In the past, we would separate an animal from its herd and exhaust it by running for hours and miles until we caught and killed it. The pursuit was driven by the reward of the pursuit.
      • The need to acquire objects and supplies that aid our survival, is part of our brain's operating system.
      • Social media feeds are about the hunt.
    • Self: Personal gratification and a sense of competency drive users to overcome obstacles and achieve goals, even when they don't find enjoyment in the process (e.g. a jigsaw puzzle).
      • Intrinsic motivation drives us to gain a sense of competency.
      • E.g. video games, inbox zero, wikipedia contribution
      • Gamification can be effective if it scratches the user’s itch.
  • Maintain a sense of autonomy and the freedom to choose. Heavy handed tactics will lose audience trust, maintain the user’s freedom will disarm their instinctive rejection of being told what to do.
  • Products with finite variability suffer from declining power from variable rewards. The products become less engaging and more predictable (e.g. Zynga / Farmville).
  • Infinite variability products maintain interest by sustaining variability with use. E.g. user generated content platforms (YouTube, Twitter) provide a never-ending stream of newness.
  • While some products are inherently variable (e.g. Google) because user search terms create the variability while the experience is consistent.

Chapter 5: Investment

  • A behaviour has to have perceived utility (and have a high frequency) to become habitual.
  • The escalation of commitment: The more we invest time and effort into something, the more we value it. Labour leads to love.
  • This is due to three effects:
    • We irrationally value our efforts - When users invest their own effort and labor, they tend to value the end result more. This is known as the IKEA effect.
    • We seek to be consistent with our past behaviours - Our past is an excellent predictor of our future. A study showed homeowners were more willing to place a large sign on their lawn if they’d already agreed to placing a smaller one.
    • We avoid cognitive dissonance - to avoid the cognitive dissonance of not liking something that others seem to, we slowly change our perception.
  • Investments are about the anticipation of longer-term rewards, not immediate gratification.
    • In Twitter following people is an investment which increases the likelihood of returning in the future.
  • In contrast to the action phase, the investment phase increases friction.
  • In the action phase make actions as simple as possible to take. BUT ask for an investment after a reward and you can increase engagement.
  • Software can adapt to user needs and enhance the experience by utilizing their investments in the product.
  • Types of investment:
    • Data: Users invest in a service by adding their personal data, increasing their commitment to the platform.
    • Followers: Collecting and following the right people adds value to the product and keeps users engaged.
    • Reputation: Building a positive reputation on online platforms enhances user experience and increases trust.
    • Skill: Investing time and effort to learn and acquire skills within a product leads to easier usage and reduces the likelihood of switching to a competitor.
  • Loading the Next Trigger
    • To create a habit, users must go through multiple cycles of the Hooked Model. Use external triggers to bring them back to start another cycle. Leverage the user’s past behaviour to reengage them with a better external trigger in the future.

Chapter 6: What are you going to do with this?

  • Practical questions:
    • What do users really want?
    • What pain is your product relieving? (Internal trigger)
    • What brings users to your service? (External trigger)
    • What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action)
    • Are users fulfilled by the reward yet left wanting more? (Variable reward)
    • What "bit of work" do users invest in your product? Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)
  • The power to build persuasive products should be used with caution.
  • Is social media the 21st century cigarette? We haven't yet developed antibodies to addictive new things.
  • You should only deceive people if it’s in their best interests.
  • Two key questions to guide your moral compass:
    • Do you use the product yourself?
    • Will the product help people improve their lives?
  • You have a moral obligation to inform and protect users who are forming unhealthy attachments to your product.
    • That said, for the overwhelming majority of users, addiction to a product will never be a problem.
  • Build the change you want to see in the world.

Chapter 8: Habit Testing and Where to Look for Habit-Forming Opportunities

  • Run your idea through the four phases of the model will help you discover potential weaknesses in your product’s habit-forming potential.
  • Practical Questions:
    • Does your users’ internal trigger frequently prompt them to action?\
    • Is your external trigger cueing them when they are most likely to act?
    • Is your design simple enough to make taking the action easy?
    • Does the reward satisfy your users’ need while leaving them wanting more?
    • Do your users invest a bit of work in the product, storing value to improve the experience with use and loading the next trigger?
  • The Hooked Model can help filter out bad ideas with low habit potential and identify potential improvements in existing products.
  • Habit Testing is inspired by the "build, measure, learn" methodology.
  • 4 step habit testing:
    1. Identify: Find out how many habitual users you have. Define how often a devoted user "should" use your product based on industry benchmarks for different categories.
    2. Codify:
      • Analyse the steps taken by devoted users, understand what hooked them.
      • You’re looking for a habit path → a series of actions shared by your most loyal users.
    3. Modify:
      • Modify the user experience to encourage this behaviour. Identify ways to nudge new users down the same Habit Path taken by devotees (e.g. update registration funnel, remove a feature etc)
  • Habit Testing is an ongoing process for every new feature and product iteration. Track users by cohort and compare their activity.

Discovering Habit-forming Opportunities

  • Build for your own needs, what problem do you wish someone would solve for you?
  • Technologies that appear niche can cross into the mainstream if they cater to a broad need. Many world-changing innovations were written off as novelties.
  • Enabling Technologies come in waves. They start with infrastructure, then enabling technologies and platforms create the basis for new types of applications that cause a gathering wave to achieve massive penetration and customer adoption. New technologies create new possibilities by making behaviours easier. Look for technologies that make cycling through the Hooked Model faster, more frequent, or more rewarding.
  • Interface Change. Changing user interactions and product interfaces can create new routines. E.g. Google simplified the search interface.