Centeva Book Report: Hooked — how to build habit-forming products

by NIR EYAL and RYAN HOOVER

Synopsis

We’re forming habits every time we use technology. Often we do so without noticing. But these processes, the ones that help build our habits, aren’t done by accident. There is a science to building products and experiences that build neural pathways that help us ease pain, escape boredom and eventually govern our thoughtless moments. Hooked gives us a glimpse into the process of building this products and what you can do to help your own products become more addicting — all the while looking at the ethics of turning people into mindless habit fueled zombies.

Insights

The pattern for building habits in our users / customers

The Habit Zone as it’s called is a very simple explanation that includes the four steps a person goes through to develop a new habit within a product. First comes the trigger — the thing that gets them to sign up, or come back to an application or product. The trigger can be an email, a notification, a badge on an app icon. It causes an artificial need for the person to take some action. Following the trigger is some action — opening an email, clicking a text message, clicking on a friend request. After we take the action we get the reward. Fascinatingly the reward must be variable for a product to truly become addicting. If we know what is inside the email that we just got we’re never going to open it. If you saw the same thing on twitter every day you’d never swipe down. Finally after the reward comes the offer for you to invest in the product — adding more profile information, sharing with friends, or some other action that will add to the value of the product for you. A great example of investment is in mobile games that ask you to plant/build/create something and tell you to come back in a few minutes or hours. This investment should naturally cause a trigger… starting the process all over again.

Building things for the right reasons
The question arises with this book and the Habit Zone itself what should someone do with this knowledge? If I used to addict people to a product that brought them no value and caused them to sink actual resources into it am I behaving ethically?

Things to Consider Implementing

Training on the habit zone
I believe we can have some training on ways to help our products be more habit forming- helping users to build good habits that will cause their jobs to the easier.

Habit Testing
Along with our other testing we should look at the habits that we are already causing people to form with our products. Are they helpful? Hurtful? What habits do we have when we use our own products? Do I like that I’ve developed that habit or do I feel slightly manipulated?

Favorite Quotes

“Habits also come from paths that help us avoid pain…”
“All companies, especially product companies over value new.”
“…more frequent usage draws more growth… the more often you do something the quicker it forms a habit”
“…habitual engagement is nearly cost free engagement… hooked users become brand evangelists”