Build habit-forming products

Contributors

@paul-boag


Business Benefits

Make products that generate more interest using human psychology.


Follow the Hook model, a behavioral design framework, to create a habit-forming technology.

The Hook Model, created by consumer psychology expert Nir Eyal, consists of a sequence of four critical phases. Combining the effects can be used in creating habit-forming technology.

  • Trigger: The trigger for a behavior can be external, like phone pings, social influence, viral videos, email newsletter, and paid campaigns, or internal, those manifest automatically in the mind. For example, the thought of keeping up to date on trending Facebook news may serve as an ‘inner-itch’ to login.
  • Action: This could be opening a push notification, entering your daily fitness goals achieved on the Nike app, or making the next move in an online game.
  • Variable reward: Rewards of the self. For example, a level-up or a rare item in a video game, or a good job reward for students in a course. Rewards of the hunt, for example, the constant hunt for new content on social media ‘slot machine’ walls. Rewards of the tribe, for example, receiving likes, comments, and approval on the content we post from our peers on Facebook or Reddit.
  • Investment: The time, effort, and personal information users contribute to the product to improve the overall experience. For example, social media users who have a high engagement frequency will likely receive more likes, followers, and relevant content.

Carry out in-depth user research to understand your audience’s motivations.

In particular, you will want to understand:

  • Their ultimate goal.
  • The pain points they are seeking to overcome.
  • Their broader context.
  • Their journey.
  • Who or what influences them.
  • Any tasks they want to complete.
  • Any questions or objections they have.

Create a spreadsheet with columns for Product, Why, How, and Feelings. Research similar products already in the market and list them in your spreadsheet.

Send out a survey to your ideal customers asking about their current use of similar products in your spreadsheet, including why they use them, how they use them, and how they feel when using them.

Enter the most common answers in the Why, How, and Feelings columns of your spreadsheet for each product.

From the answers in your spreadsheet and using the guidance of the Hook Model, identify triggers that you can use to boost interest or engagement in your product.

Some examples of negative triggers are pain, fear, FOMO, and rejection. These are emotions we tend to want to avoid.

Some examples of positive triggers are pleasure, hope, and acceptance. These are emotions we tend to want more of.

Create a prototype of the product and use an effect with positive or negative triggers to encourage consumers to act on your platform or interact with your product.

If the effect triggers a negative emotion like loneliness, provide the audience with new content for each actioning of the trigger. If the effect triggers positive emotion, give them more information to build on with each action.

Develop a reward system for users on your website, including the actions you want to reward and the rewards you’ll offer.

Some examples of actions to reward are writing blog posts for your publication, posting a status on social media, and consuming content. Examples of rewards are badges of recognition, extra functionality on your website, or new interactions with your product.