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How to Build Habit-Forming Products

By Nir Eyal
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What is Hooked about?

Hooked reveals the secrets behind habit-forming products and how companies like Facebook, Instagram, and Google create addictive user experiences. Eyal's "Hook Model" breaks down the four key stages of building habit-forming products: Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, and Investment. By understanding these principles, businesses can create products that keep users coming back for more. Whether you're a product designer, marketer, or entrepreneur, Hooked is a must-read for anyone looking to understand what makes a product truly engaging.

Nir Eyal is a bestselling author known for his expertise in behavioral design and habit formation. His book "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" explores the psychology behind creating addictive technologies. Eyal's writing style is engaging and practical, offering actionable insights for entrepreneurs and designers. He delves into topics such as consumer behavior, motivation, and creating products that capture users' attention. Eyal's work sheds light on the ways technology shapes our behavior and how we can harness these insights for positive change.

10 Key Ideas of Hooked

  1. Creating User Habits Through Trigger Design

    Design products that incorporate both external and internal triggers. External triggers, such as emails and notifications, draw users in, while internal triggers, like emotions or routines, keep them coming back. By associating your product with specific user states or emotions, you can create a habit-forming loop where the product becomes the go-to solution for a particular need or feeling.

    • Identify the Emotions or Routines Your Product Addresses: Start by understanding the internal triggers your potential users experience. Are they seeking entertainment because they're bored? Looking for social connection when they feel lonely? By pinpointing these emotions or routines, you can tailor your product to become the natural solution.

    • Design External Triggers That Match User Needs: Once you know what internal triggers you're targeting, create external triggers like notifications, emails, or social media ads that speak directly to those needs. For example, if your product helps with productivity, a morning email reminding users to plan their day can be very effective.

    • Create a Seamless Transition from Trigger to Action: Ensure that when a user interacts with an external trigger, the path to using your product is as frictionless as possible. This might mean simplifying the sign-up process, making the app more intuitive, or providing immediate value that confirms the user's decision to engage.

    • Reinforce the Habit Loop: After users have taken the desired action, provide them with a reward that reinforces the habit. This could be a sense of accomplishment, social recognition, or even something tangible within the app. Over time, this reward helps solidify the habit, making your product the go-to solution whenever the internal trigger occurs.

    • Example

      A meditation app sends a push notification in the early evening, a time when users might feel stressed from their day. The notification offers a quick, 5-minute guided session to help unwind. This external trigger addresses the internal feeling of stress, guiding the user towards forming a habit of meditating to relax.

    • Example

      A fitness tracking app sends a congratulatory email after a user completes their first week of workouts. The email highlights their progress and encourages them to keep going. This external trigger, combined with the internal desire to improve fitness, helps reinforce the habit of daily exercise.

  2. Enhancing User Engagement with Variable Rewards

    Implement a system of variable rewards to make product interactions more engaging and unpredictable. This taps into the human desire for novelty and surprise, encouraging users to return to the product repeatedly. Rewards can vary in type, such as social validation, material gain, or personal gratification, ensuring a wide appeal across different user motivations.

    • Identify Your Reward Categories: Start by pinpointing what types of rewards would most appeal to your users. Consider social validation (likes, shares, comments), material gain (discounts, gifts), and personal gratification (achievements, milestones).

    • Implement a Variable Reward System: Integrate a system where rewards are not given out predictably. For example, after completing a task or action, the reward type or size should vary. This unpredictability keeps the experience fresh and engaging.

    • Monitor and Adjust: Keep an eye on how your users respond to the different types of rewards and the variability of these rewards. Use analytics to understand what works best and be prepared to adjust your strategy based on user feedback and engagement metrics.

    • Educate Your Users: Make sure your users understand how the reward system works but keep some elements of surprise. This can be done through tutorials, FAQs, or introductory emails. Transparency builds trust, while the element of surprise maintains engagement.

    • Example

      A fitness app that rewards users with points for workouts completed. The points can be random or based on the workout's difficulty, and they can be redeemed for rewards like virtual badges, discount codes for fitness gear, or a feature that unlocks new exercises.

    • Example

      A social media platform that introduces a 'mystery box' for users who engage regularly. The box could contain anything from a profile badge highlighting the user as a top contributor, to exclusive access to new features, or even a physical gift sent to their home.

  3. Simplifying the Action Phase to Boost Response

    Reduce the effort required for users to take the desired action within your product. The easier it is for users to perform an action, the more likely they are to do it. This involves streamlining user interfaces, removing unnecessary steps, and clearly guiding users towards the next action. A smooth, frictionless experience encourages habitual use.

    • Identify the core action you want users to take on your product or service. This could be making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or sharing content. Clearly defining this action is the first step towards simplifying the process.

    • Analyze the current process required to perform this action. Look for any unnecessary steps that could be eliminated without sacrificing the quality of the user experience. This might involve combining two steps into one or removing the need for redundant information.

    • Optimize the user interface for simplicity and ease of use. This could mean larger buttons, clearer calls-to-action, and minimizing the amount of text users need to read to understand what they need to do next.

    • Automate where possible to reduce user effort. If your platform can remember user preferences or fill in details automatically, implement these features to make actions quicker and easier.

    • Test and iterate based on user feedback. Simplification is an ongoing process. Use A/B testing to compare different versions of your process and see which one performs better. Always be open to refining your approach based on how real users interact with your product.

    • Example

      A shopping app reduces the checkout process from five steps to just two by allowing users to save their shipping and payment information. This simplification leads to a noticeable increase in completed purchases.

    • Example

      A content platform introduces a 'Read Later' button directly beside article titles, eliminating the need to open the article before saving it. This small change significantly increases the number of articles saved for later reading, enhancing user engagement.

  4. Investment Phase: Encouraging User Contributions

    Prompt users to make small investments in your product, such as personalizing their profile or contributing content. These investments increase the user's sense of ownership and commitment, making them more likely to return. Additionally, these actions improve the service for the user over time, creating a more personalized and valuable experience.

    • Personalize Your Experience: Whenever you sign up for a new service or app, take a few moments to customize your profile. Add a profile picture, fill out your interests, or set your preferences. This small investment not only makes the platform more enjoyable for you but also increases your likelihood of sticking with it.

    • Contribute Content: If the platform allows, start contributing your own content. This could be posting on a forum, uploading photos, writing reviews, or sharing articles. These contributions not only enrich the community but also deepen your connection to the service, making you more likely to return.

    • Engage with Others: Make an effort to engage with other users' content by liking, commenting, or sharing. This interaction not only builds a sense of community but also personalizes your feed, making the content you see more relevant and engaging over time.

    • Track Your Progress: If the service includes progress tracking or goal setting, make sure to use these features. Setting goals and monitoring your progress can increase your commitment and satisfaction with the service.

    • Example

      On a fitness app, you might start by setting up your fitness goals, tracking your daily workouts, and participating in community challenges. Over time, this not only personalizes your experience but also motivates you to keep using the app.

    • Example

      On a language learning platform, you could begin by choosing the languages you're interested in and completing a placement test to personalize your learning path. Then, regularly contribute by participating in forum discussions or peer reviewing others' exercises. This engagement enhances your learning experience and keeps you motivated.

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Hooked Summary: Common Questions

Hooked focuses on how to build habit-forming products by understanding the psychology behind user behavior and creating products that keep users coming back for more.

Mohammad YektaBy Mohammad Yekta
We would recommend Hooked to product managers, designers, entrepreneurs, and anyone involved in creating or improving products. This book provides valuable insights into designing products that engage users and build habit-forming experiences, helping readers understand the principles behind creating successful and addictive products.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal is a standout book in the Business, Marketing & Sales field. For a concise summary and key takeaways, sign up for free on our platform. You'll be able to access insights from this book and summaries of other noteworthy books.

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