100 Books to Become a Behavioral Designer — Part 3

The Best Books on How to Design for Behavior Change

Samuel Salzer
Sep 29, 2019 · 11 min read

We have made it to the third part in the series covering the 100 best books to learn about Behavioral Design. Included in this part are perhaps some of my favorite books of all —focusing on the process behind designing for behavior change.

The books chosen are a mix of those who have helped me create a successful behavioral design career combined with books personally nominated by the likes of Richard Thaler, Dan Ariely, Tali Sharot, Nir Eyal, Robert Cialdini, and Angela Duckworth, to name a few.

Did you miss the first two parts? Here are the links below:


If you prefer a list of all 100 books in a PDF, then you can download it here 📚

Level 3. How to design for behavior change

With the first part covering the fundamentals and the second part focusing on assembling our behavioral design tools, this part is where the magic happens. That’s because we are now trying to see how we can systematically design for behavior change in practice. Included here are the books that will help us put our knowledge and tools to work. You will be introduced to several useful behavior change frameworks, learn about service and UX design, as well as the process of how to set up a behavior change intervention (+ much more). Great books coming up!


Designing for Behavior Change: Applying Psychology and Behavioral Economics

Paperback | Kindle

THE BOOK IN SHORT
A new wave of products is helping people change their behavior and daily routines, whether it’s exercising more (Fitbit) or taking control of their finances (HelloWallet). This practical guide shows you how to design these types of products for users seeking to take action and achieve specific goals.

In Designing for Behavior Change, you will learn:

  • The three main strategies to help people change behavior
  • Identify your target audience and the behaviors they seek to change
  • Extract user stories and identify obstacles to behavior change
  • Develop effective interface designs that are enjoyable to use
  • Measure your product’s impact and learn ways to improve it

In sum, this book will help you discover how to create easy-to-use products to help people make positive changes.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
This is a must-read for anyone working with applying behavioral design to digital product development. The book takes you step-by-step through the process of applying behavioral economics and psychology to the practical problems of product design and development. Using a combination of lean and agile development methods, you’ll learn an iterative approach for identifying target users and behaviors, building the product, and gauging its effectiveness.

Category: Behavioral Science, Psychology, Product Development, Agile


Digital Behavioral Design

Digital Download (Free)

THE BOOK IN SHORT
Digital Behavioral Design introduces a design framework for changing human behavior. The book focuses primarily on a particular area of behavioral design: Habits. How they work, how to change them, and how your product can use Behavioral Design to become a daily habit for your users.

The book also reviews the ethics of Behavioral Design and how these techniques can be used for good. It explores what techniques Behavioral Design offers us to change user behavior, and focus in on how the Cue-Action-Reward (CAR) Model has been used to induce good habits.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
This is a great short (and free) book to get you started with applying behavioral design in your product development process. You will get an introduction to the science behind behavior change and habit-formation, and learn about real examples of how you can get started building a habit-forming product.

Category: Behavioral Science, Digital Psychology, Product Development


Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Paperback

THE BOOK IN SHORT
Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, over 400,000 Web designers and developers have relied on Steve Krug’s guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. In this 3rd edition, Steve returns with a fresh perspective to reexamine the principles that made Don’t Make Me Think a classic-–with updated examples and a new chapter on mobile usability.

If you’ve read it before, you’ll rediscover what made Don’t Make Me Think so essential to Web designers and developers around the world. If you’ve never read it, you’ll see why so many people have said it should be required reading for anyone working on Web sites.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
One of the most difficult things to accomplish is creating something that is truly intuitive. This book provides a wonderful set of guiding principles in helping us develop digital products that make sense. It’s a short book, profusely illustrated…and best of all — fun to read.

Category: User Experience and Website Usability


Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Paperback | Audiobook | Kindle

THE BOOK IN SHORT
How do successful companies create products people can’t put down? Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model — a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
Hooked was a game-changer when it was released and still offers one of the best how-to guides for building better products. It provides practical insights to create user habits that stick and actionable steps for building products people love.

The fact that many behavioral design job listings now see it as a requirement to know the Hooked Model really says it all. A must-read book!

Category: Behavioral Science, Digital Psychology, Product Development



Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive, and Others Die

Kindle | Paperback | Audiobook

THE BOOK IN SHORT
This instant classic is about why some ideas thrive, why others die, and how to improve your idea’s chances — essential reading in the “fake news” era. In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the human scale principle, using the Velcro Theory of Memory, and creating curiosity gaps. Along the way, we discover that sticky messages of all kinds draw their power from the same six traits.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
This book will help you transform the way you communicate. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, the book shows us the principles of successful ideas — and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our messages stick.

Category: Communication, Psychology


Seductive Interaction Design: Creating Playful, Fun, and Effective UX

Paperback | Kindle

THE BOOK IN SHORT
What happens when you’ve built a great website or app, but no one seems to care? How do you get people to stick around long enough to see how your service might be of value? In Seductive Interaction Design, speaker and author Stephen P. Anderson takes a fresh approach to designing sites and interactions based on the stages of seduction. This beautifully designed book examines what motivates people to act.

Principles from psychology are found throughout the book, along with dozens of examples showing how these techniques have been applied with great success. In addition, each section includes interviews with influential web and interaction designers.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
Seductive Design is a wonderfully comprehensive book on how to create engaging digital user interactions. Not only does it cover valuable insights from human-centered design, but it also includes several interesting psychological insights. It’s indeed a seductive read, very hard to put down once you get started!

Category: User Experience and Website Usability, Design


Start at the End: How to Build Products That Create Change

Paperback | Audiobook | Kindle

THE BOOK IN SHORT
Nudge meets Hooked in a practical approach to designing products and services that change behavior, from what we buy to how we work. Start at the End offers a new framework for design, grounded in behavioral science. Technology executive and behavioral scientist Matt Wallaert argues that the purpose of everything is behavior change. By starting with outcomes instead of processes, the most effective companies understand what people want to do and why they aren’t already doing it, then build products and services to bridge the gap.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
Start at the End is an honest and no-bullshit guide to applying behavioral science and psychology to product development. This is an entertaining and easy to follow roadmap for building products that matter — and changing behavior for the better.

Category: Behavioral Science, Product Development


The Behaviour Change Wheel: A Guide to Designing Interventions

Paperback | E-Book

THE BOOK IN SHORT

The Behaviour Change Wheel — A Guide to Designing Interventions brings together theory-based tools developed in behavioral science to understand and change behavior to form a step-by-step intervention design manual. This is a practical guide to designing and evaluating behavior change interventions and policies based on the Behaviour Change Wheel, a synthesis of 19 behavior change frameworks that draw on a wide range of disciplines and approaches.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
This is a guide for people who want to work with changing behavior at scale. Perfect for policymakers, practitioners, intervention designers and researchers, the book introduces a systematic, theory-based method, key concepts, and practical tasks from cutting edge of behavioral science.

Category: Behavioral Science, Psychology


The Design of Everyday Things

Paperback | Audiobook | Kindle

THE BOOK IN SHORT
Even the smartest among us can feel inept as we fail to figure out which light switch or oven burner to turn on, or whether to push, pull, or slide a door.
The fault, argues this ingenious — even liberating — book, lies not in ourselves, but in product design that ignores the needs of users and the principles of cognitive psychology. The problems range from ambiguous and hidden controls to arbitrary relationships between controls and functions, coupled with a lack of feedback or other assistance and unreasonable demands on memorization. The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
The Design of Everyday Things can be seen as a powerful primer on how — and why — some products satisfy customers while others only frustrate them. I adore this book, and it has made me look at the world in a completely different way. This really is the ultimate guide to human-centered design.

Category: Service Design, Psychology


The Last Mile: Creating Social and Economic Value from Behavioral Insights

Paperback | Kindle

THE BOOK IN SHORT
Most organizations spend much of their effort on the start of the value creation process: namely, creating a strategy, developing new products or services, and analyzing the market. They pay a lot less attention to the end: the crucial “last mile” where consumers come to their website, store, or sales representatives and make a choice.

In The Last Mile, Dilip Soman shows how to use insights from behavioral science in order to close that gap. Beginning with an introduction to the last mile problem and the concept of choice architecture, the book takes a deep dive into the psychology of choice, money, and time. It explains how to construct behavioral experiments and understand the data on preferences that they provide. Finally, it provides a range of practical tools with which to overcome common last-mile difficulties.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT
The Last Mile is full of solid, concrete advice on how to put the lessons of behavioral science to work. It reminds us that we indeed must often start at the end and helps lay readers not only to understand behavioral science but to apply its lessons to their own organizations’ last-mile problems.

Category: Behavioral Economics, Product Development


That’s it (well, not really.)

We’ve almost completed the series, just one part left. You can find the link below, however, consider taking the non-FOMO route. You’ve now been introduced to 30 amazing books and so it begs the question: how many of them have you read? This list isn’t going anywhere, so instead of increasing your to-read list, feel free to take this moment to relax, find a place to comfortably lean back, and then start reading one of the great books introduced above.

If you prefer a list of all 100 books in a PDF, then you can download it here 📚


Samuel Salzer is a behavioral designer, author & keynote speaker helping value-driven organizations around the world to create habit-forming products and services using insights from behavioral economics and applied behavioral science.

You can get in touch with Samuel here.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Credit to everyone who helped make this, and future parts in this guide possible through your book recommendations and endorsements. It is humbling to have so many great people in our wide-spread community be so eager to help out and contribute.

Thank you to everyone listed below, I greatly appreciate your contributions.

Dan Ariely | Jonah Berger | Charlotte Blank | David Buss | Yu-kai Chou | Robert Cialdini | Wendy De La Rosa | Angela Duckworth | Nir Eyal | Zac Fitz-Walter | BJ Fogg | Evelyn Gosnell| Adam Grant | Dan Heath | Aline Holzwarth | Tim Houlihan | Rob Haisfield | Michael Hallsworth |Scott Barry Kaufman | Zarak Khan | Steve Martin | Riitta Mettomäki | Katherine Milkman |Kurt Nelson | Ingrid Melvær Paulin | Dan Pink | Steven Pinker | Robert Sapolsky | Tali Sharot | Koen Smets | Dilip Soman | Seth Stephens-Davidowitz | Richard Thaler | Matt Wallaert | Susan Weinchenck | Stephen Wendel

Names listed alphabetically. For simplicity, I avoided titles (you can assume everyone has a PhD.)

Credit to Goodreads — Most of “The book in short” sections are adapted synopsis from Goodreads.

No affiliate links have been used in this article.

Behavioral Design Hub

One place for everything related to behavioral design

Samuel Salzer

Written by

Behavioral designer, author and keynote speaker. Helping organizations create habit forming products. Curator for the popular newsletter www.HabitWeekly.com

Behavioral Design Hub

One place for everything related to behavioral design

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