Hook Model: Build Habit-Forming Products

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Over the past several months, Nir Eyal has been advertising his new book and idea the Hook Model in the Bay Area. The Hook Model can be operationalized by designers to build habit forming products. Since the model is advertised to Silicon Valley, these habit forming products are intended to build the next super-popular website.

The hook model has a lot of content, which I summarized into its four phases:

  1. Trigger: Triggers are internal or external stimuli to engage in an action. These triggers can be push notifications, seeing a scenic moment that you want to remember, or wanting to communicate with someone else.
  2. Action: Actions are the explicit behaviours that the user performs in response to the trigger. For example, when looking at a scenic moment that you want to capture, you take a photograph using a camera or smartphone.
  3. Variable Reward: A reward is provided for performing the action. When taking a picture of a scenic moment, you get a photograph saved on your smartphone to share or recall later. A variable reward is a reward that is only offered some of the time. A variable reward, unlike a regular reward, gives the product an addictive experience. Gambling and gamification are variable rewards to make the user wanting to participate again in the hopes of another reward. Almost all social networking effects have variability inherent by its nature.
  4. Investment: A product or service that accumulates rewards in the same service leads to an investment in the product. When taking many photos, it becomes the de facto album for sharing photos with others. When playing a game, more points are awarded.

The challenge for designers is to create associations between each of the steps. Making the association between the the trigger and action can either be easy or challenging, but the reward has to reflect the effort required to perform an action. Variable rewards have to be crafted by the designer.When a product or service achieves all of these steps, then a service or product has higher user participation.

In summary, the Hook Model can be used as a tool for product designers to create engaging experiences and retain users on a platform over time. His book details the psychological theories and studies that led to formulating this model.