2 thoughts on “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

235 of 241 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is the absolute best book on product development I’ve ever read, August 23, 2014
J. Walnes

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If you’re trying to build the next big app, you need user engagement. This book lays down a model building engagement by having users constantly return to your app. In the beginning this is prompted, but eventually it’ll become instinct. This is how viral loops are formed.

It lays out the “Hook Model”, a basic framework of the 4 key stages of each loop:

1. Trigger: How does the loop initiate? In the beginning this may be through external triggers (such as an email, notification, icon badge, etc) but through successive loops the user eventually creates internal triggers where a particular thought or emotion will send them back to your product.

2. Action: Once the user is aware they need to use your product (through the trigger), what it the simplest action they can perform to get some kind of reward. For example a Facebook “Like”.

3. Variable reward: How are they rewarded for this behavior? This could be social validation (e.g. “my friends approve!”), collection of material resources (e.g. add a photo to a collection) or personal gratification (e.g. inbox zero). The “variable” part is important – rewards should not always be predictable, encouraging users to repeat the cycle.

4. Investment: Finally, the user needs to put something back in to increase the chance of repeating the loop. This could be content (e.g. a book in your Kindle), user entered data (e.g. profile information or linked accounts), reputation (e.g. something to gain a 5 star seller review), or a learned skill (e.g. I’m now really good at this software program). The investment also sets up the trigger to for the next cycle of the loop.

This book is a really easy read. I wanted something that would get to the crux of the problem and set out a practical framework of how to apply it with examples, without being overly verbose on history and research. It delivered.

111 of 113 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Shallow, misleading approach to behavior modification – dressed up as product design, May 10, 2015
Game Designer & Startup Coach (Los Angeles, CA)

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This is a dangerous and misleading book. The author is advocating am Operant Conditioning approach to building habits – dressed up as the ultimate solution to building engaging products. Anyone who’s sophisticated in behavioral science will see right through the shallow, misleading logic laid out in this book. Beginners who aren’t aware of the well-established limitations of Operant Conditioning will be WOW-ed — and excited about finding a “magic solution.” But just like all magic solutions, there’s less here than meets the eye. This approach won’t help you design a truly delightful product that drives long-term engagement. What it WILL do is give you a well-established model for manipulating behavior in the short term, which will ultimately backfire in the longer term. If you want to understand this dynamic better, read this: http://bigthink.com/wikimind/an-incomplete-loop-a-review-of-hooked-by-nir-eyal BTW I fully expect the author to jump in and refute this review — I’ll let readers draw their own conclusions 🙂

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