Building Habit Forming Products,So your users Get HOOKED to It


Making products is not just about idea and need,its more about the human psychology which makes humans use your products again and again i.e they are Hooked to it.

In short I call it
“Training the user brains for the Reward”

The First principles for Generating habits is Reward .What ever humans or animals do or learn is motivated by a reward, which may be stimulated by internal or external stimuli.

The kids have internal stimuli to learn and explore, some habits can be formed by giving a external stimuli and a reward like we will go to for picnic if you finish a your homework, the will finish it very fast as they know they will be rewarded by picnic .and if they are regularly given new rewards(variable )for the activity it gets in to Habit. So the the long and old saying come into effect and its very true “The Bad Habits Die Hard, So Do the Good Ones” which can be rephrased as “All Habits Die Hard” So make it your aim to make products which help people get addicted to it by forming habits. 
This holds more true in the Generation which is dominated by Web and Apps.

Four Steps for habit forming products Through Hooks model

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Reward
  4. Investment
  5. Repeated loops(This is the addition to the original model)

We will be taking examples to explain it from day to day products, which you can integrate in your products/platforms and see how you can make difference to your products.


There are two kinds of Trigger: external and internal; external trigger come in the most of present web platforms and then comes the internal trigger which is pushed by brain’s sensory response once you get hooked.

External Trigger-
This happens in Today’s world by email marketing, Advertisement(google and Facebook Tax), Offline advertisements, Word of mouth( this is the best form of external trigger) and then comes the referral promotion(Paypal, UBER did it a lot by giving a lot of free rides)
We will here talk about “Instagram” They used the most effective and cheapest form of giving a external trigger by getting users from different social media platforms by posting edited beautiful photos, which was a trigger for the people to check out the their app and then those users brought more users to the platform and still Instagram gives external trigger by allowing to post beautiful photos to twitter and Facebook.

Internal Trigger-
This is the best form of trigger and it generally happens once you are addicted to something which gives you happiness once you do it like drugs , checking out Facebook again and again or clicking photos with Instagram app.
Here you are not doing anything but a brain reward system kicks in by flooding nucleus accumbens in brain with dopamine.
Then another app @Tinder which helps you find people near you when you are alone or need someone to talk and this is a internal stimuli kicked in due to loneliness.


This comes after the Trigger , which you have given to your users after paying huge amount of Google and Facebook tax to promote your product and here user does some action like registration or uses your product or tries it out but at this stage most products fails as the design of product is loaded with too many features and navigation is so complicate that users after coming here just abandon it and your costly triggers which you generated by paid online marketing goes for a Toss.

So here we have to have a simple design and which does only one thing and which is done perfectly. This part involves one click sign up and easy navigation and intelligent Simple Design using the KISS formula(Keep it Simple Silly)

To promote action web-platform has progress bars for completing profiles and sometimes they push triggers to complete the action by mailing so its a continuous loop until a users starts doing investment on the platform.

Here I will take example of Medium and its founder Ev Williams it has made creating and typing content simpler than other platforms and also simpler than Microsoft word .
Simple and fast User interface is important in this phase.

Variable Rewards-

This is nothing new, Variable rewards were there since existence of animals and humans.Maybe you must have done this yourself in some part of your life. There are practical experiments done on animals on Reward based habit forming not even this even children get into habits due to rewards (tell them you will get a chocolate if you pack your bag and they will finish and come running to for the reward)
The rewards should also give the person doing the action a instant gratification like in case of the child above.

The extend till which humans can go for rewards is endless.
Some people can go to extend of risking their life. Some egs. are bull riding , Base Jumping, Why some people do it ?Some do it for prize money , being famous and etc all these are rewards and more extreme example can be the terrorists which become suicide bombers go for a reward that they will reach heaven once they die and their family will get money( I am quoting this not to make a issue but a extreme example of reward)

The digital world bought these rewards in the form of ledger board in games , ranking in games, likes and comments as in Facebook and Upvote by @Quora followers in twitters of the world. Most of the successful products in the world have a reward system.

You can add this to your platform or invent a new form of variable reward system like in games, But its must to have one on your platform or the product.


The investment done by user like writing posts , uploading photos , designing , sharing videos , links , following , adding connections is type of a investment by the user.
The more the investment the less are the chances the user will leave your platform as the emotions get attached when people invest their time , money and creativity on the platform.

These days most of the platforms survive on user content investment and which is a form if making a habit so users keep on returning again and again.

The psychology proves that the value of everything is directly connected to the amount of investment(time ,money, memories, effort, content)you have put in that thing.

Just imagine if leaving Facebook after sharing so many photos, videos , links , note, places and memories , You may or may not know you have formed a Habit of using it and your brain has recognized it as part of daily habit.

We can also say one more thing ,if someone made you pay for a product a product then you will value it more as compared for the product which you got for free as investment was made.


So this model is a continuous process of iteration and Repetition, as once the person gets on your platform he needs regular triggers for using and doing action(keep adding new actions)and then investing time and getting rewards and again doing more investment(read content generation) and then let him get more rewards.

REMEMBER the formula T-A-V-I-R(trigger-action -variable reward-investment- repeat )

1.To one of my favorite author Nir Eyal due to him I got exposed to habit forming part of building products. You can buy the book here .

2. sunil r parekh Sir as I promised to write most important part of the books , I read.

3. Santosh Panda Sir for exposing me to @medium the very first story I read on this platform was his ( he doesn’t know that..)