Hooked – Nir Eyal

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products – by Nir Eyal
Date Read: 11/11/17. Recommendation: 6/10.

Examines how to engineer user behavior, the moral implications, and how to leverage those findings to improve people's lives. Eyal documents each step of the "hook model," consisting of a trigger, action, investment, and variable reward. It's a short read and doesn't advance much past the basics, but if you're looking for an introduction to the startup mindset and how to begin building a product or service of your own, it's worth your time. 

See my notes below or Amazon for details and reviews.


My Notes:

Habits = automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues

How did these companies engineer user behavior? What were the moral implications of building potentially addictive products? Most important, could the same forces that made these experiences so compelling also be used to build product to improve people's lives?

The Hook Model: Trigger, Action, Investment, Variable Reward

When harnessed correctly, technology can enhance lives through healthful behaviors that improve our relationships, make us smarter, and increase productivity. *Should be used to help nudge people to make better choices (as judged by themselves).

Hooks connect the user's problem with a company's solution frequently enough to form a habit.

Price Sensitivity: As customers form routines around a product, they come to depend upon it and become less sensitive to price.
*Rise of the freemium model

Users who continuously find value in a product are more likely to tell their friends about it. Frequent usage = brand evangelists who bring in new users at little or no cost.

Viral Cycle Time: the amount of time it takes a user to invite another user; and it can have a massive impact.

"Many innovations fail because consumers irrationally overvalue the old while companies irrationally overvalue the new." -John Gourville
If you're building a new product, it can't just be better. It must be nine times better because old habits die hard.
*QWERTY keyboard vs. Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

"Are you building a vitamin or a painkiller?"
-Painkillers solve an obvious need, relieving a specific pain and often have quantifiable markets.
-Vitamins, by contrast, do not necessarily solve an obvious pain point. Instead they appeal to users' emotional rather than functional needs.

"If you want to build a product that is relevant to folks, you need to put yourself in their shoes and you need to write a story from their side. So, we spend a lot of time writing what's called user narratives." -Jack Dorsey

"5 Whys Method" – Adapted from the Toyota Production System. By repeating why five times, the nature of the problem and the solution becomes clear.

The more effort required to perform the desired action, the less likely it is to occur.

Fogg Behavior Model, B=MAT. Behavior = Motivation, Ability, Trigger.

Remove steps until you reach the simplest possible process...Any technology that significantly reduces the steps to complete a task will enjoy high adoption rates by the people it assists.

"Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time...Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps." -Evan Williams

The unknown is fascinating, and strong stories hold our attention by waiting to reveal what happens next.

Rewards of the tribe–gratification of others.
Rewards of the hunt–material goods, money, or information.
Rewards of the self–mastery, completion, competency, or consistency.

The escalation of commitment–makes some people play video games until they keel over and die. Has also been used to influence people to give more to charity.

The more users invest time and effort into a product or service, the more they value it. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that our labor leads to love. (IKEA effect)

The more effort we put into something, the more likely are to value it–rationalization.

Content increases the value of a service.

LinkedIn–Trick to getting people to return, getting them to initially enter just a little information.
Twitter–Following the right people.

Five fundamental questions:
1) What do users really want? What pain is your product relieving? (internal trigger)
2) What brings users to your service? (external trigger)
3) What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (action)
4) Are users fulfilled by the reward yet left wanting more? (variable reward)
5) What "bit of work" do users invest in your product? (investment)

The Hook Model can be a helpful tool for filtering out bad ideas with low habit potential as well as a framework for identifying room for improvement in existing products.