Do your users enjoy using your product?

Depiction of the four happy chemicals

For B2C companies at scale word-of-mouth is widely regarded as one of the most important drivers of growth. Companies like Dropbox and Monzo have used this to grow their userbase and have worked to ensure people like you and I enjoy using their products. When it comes to user satisfaction, NPS is a common proxy for this but how do we get people to become promoters in the first place?

When building our products building empathy for the users experience helps us build better products. Nir Eyal author of ‘Hooked’ talks to us about engaging products and how we as product makers often fail to understand the psychology of good product design (great TED talk btw!).

Too many products are not engaging enough — Nir Eyal

Even if you’re building a product that solves a problem and allows your users to reach their desired outcome you should still want to make their experience delightful.

Happy Chemicals
The four happy chemicals was popularized by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, author of ‘Habits of a Happy Brain’. There are four chemicals (DOSE) that are potentially at play when you feel happy: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphin and they each serve their own purpose in triggering a good feeling.

As we seek to create products that drive user satisfaction, wouldn’t it be great if we understood more about the four chemicals that are stimulated in the brain when we feel happiness? Let’s discuss about each of these.

Dopamine is what makes you feel good when you take a step towards something that meets your needs — specifically the anticipation of a percieved need.

Oxytocin aka the ‘love hormone’ is that feeling of belonging you get when you are a part of a herd of people.

Serotonin is that feeling we get when we feel significant or important. Social dominance also releases serotonin.

Endorphin is triggered by physical pain and masks it for a brief moment of euphoria as a survival mechanism. Small amounts are released by laughing or crying.

Building products users (somewhat) naturally want to use
So how can we create products that users will engage with and will find delightful to use?

I believe as makers of products we can think through how we create an on-going experience with our products that engage and delight users releasing one or more of the happy chemicals. As an example, when we get notifications on Instagram we are experiencing serotonin and the notifications are the ‘triggers’ that Nir Eyal describes in his book.

Thinking more about the psychology of users helps us build products that users enjoy using. Frameworks such as the four happy chemicals and even the principles behind the concept of habit forming products can help us take a step toward building a better experience for our users.

FURTHER READING: Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, & Endorphin Levels

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