Designing for Cue & Reward

Charles Duhigg gave a presentation last week on the topics included in his book, The Power of Habit. He said that the brain works on a Cue / Routine / Reward loop. Most brain power is exerted at the Cue and the Reward stages. The brain effectively powers down during Routine stage because it feels like “I got this”.

Of course your brain doesn’t always “got this” but it thinks it does. That’s an issue.

When designing for any sort of behavior change, focus on the Cue — what prompts the behavior? Meeting a friend at the gym? Putting a book next to your bed instead of your phone? — and focus on the Reward — what will make this behavior emotionally sticky? Chocolate helps, but so does praise / feedback from friends and family so involve them in the process as well if that helps.