Crowdfunding, Startups & Everything In-between

Bookworm#4 - Hooked by Nir Eyal

How many times do you check your phone every day? Just think about that for a little. Or aimlessly scroll through your Instagram feed? Got any snaps today? You're right. You can't remember. I can't remember neither. These behaviors are already a part of us, so they feel natural. But are they?


Nir Eyal shows us in his book, Hooked, How To Build Habit-Forming Productsthat almost all these habits are in fact programmed. He thus identifies the hook model, a 4 stages process, through which most companies (not all of them) can design products that stick into the people's minds and lives:


1. Trigger - A "kick" is required to set the process in motion. This can either come in the form of an external trigger, one that commends us to act, or in the form of an internal one, which appeals to our emotions or subconscious beliefs.

2. Action - The result of the trigger, performed under the presence of sufficient motivation and ability from the user's side. The simpler the action, the more often it will be repeated.

3. Variable reward - A rewards system is to be devised, with a gist though: variable perks (in terms of frequency, amount, etc.). Surprise users, don't just bore them.

4. Investment - This represents the user's commitment towards the product. How much time/data/effort is the user going to put into the product? More input results in a lower churn rate, since users will be less inclined to switch to another product.


The purpose of the model is to be repeated as often as possible, with shorter cycles every time. Of course, my portraying is oversimplified, but the book provides more examples and case studies, as well as a actionable list at the end of each chapter. Here are other 7 things I took from the book:

  1. Behaviors are like LIFO - last in, first out. The last one acquired is the most likely to disappear away first. That's why frequency matters.
  2. Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Trigger or (B=MAT), with each of the 3 variables set up at a specific threshold.
  3. "Many innovations fail because consumers irrationally overvalue the old while companies irrationally overvalue the new." *preach*
  4. Most habit forming products start of as vitamins, but then become pain-killers.
  5. User narratives are a targeted way to cater to users. Ask as many "why's" as possible till you get to the core of the emotion driving a specific behavior. Then design the bigger picture.
  6. We use heuristics - rules of thumb - to make mundane decisions. Capitalize on them.
  7. Users must ultimately feel in control about the user experience in order to want to use the product.

Let me know what other wisdom nuggets you've discovered in this book.

Cheers, Andrei


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