Nir Eyal

Author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 11, 2017

Discussion

Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
Hi, I’m Nir. I write for TechCrunch, Forbes, Psychology Today, and am a frequent speaker at industry conferences and Fortune 500 companies. I’m the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and I have Lectured at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Design School and have sold two technology companies since 2003. You can find my regular writings on my blog. For most of my career I’ve worked in the video gaming and advertising industries where I learned, applied, and at times rejected, the techniques used to motivate and manipulate users. I write to help companies create behaviors that benefit their users, while educating people on how to build healthful habits in their own lives. As an active angel investor, I put my money where my mouth is by backing habit-forming products I believe improve lives. Some of my past investments include: Eventbrite, Product Hunt, Symphony Commerce, Pantry, Refresh.io, Presence Learning, and 7 Cups of Tea. I'm also hosting Habit Summit which takes place in San Francisco on April 4-5, 2017. Sign up here to join us, or click here here for a chance at a free ticket. Although I received most of my education earning an advanced degree from the The School of Hard Knocks, I also received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Happy to be answering your questions today, so fire away!
Michael Bilderbach@mbilderbach · Product Designer
what insight about life have you acquired, that seems obvious to you but might not be obvious to everyone else?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@mbilderbach That there is no such thing as a "self" You are just a collection of your past experiences and habits. This realization provides me with a great deal of hope and optimism. It also drives me to ask myself whether what I'm doing daily is really in my best interest or just another dumb habit of mind.
Philip Kuklis@philipkuklis · Co-Founder, Hubble
Hi Nir, you recently mentioned in a Q&A that „the challenge of our generation is figuring out how to put tech in its place“. How do you imagine a world where technology is put in its place? What role would it play in our lives?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@philipkuklis I'm very optimistic about personal technology's role in our lives. I think we'll do what humans have always done when faced with technological change -- we'll adapt and adopt. We'll adapt our behaviors to put tech in it's place and adopt new technologies to fix the bad aspects of the last generation of technology. Of course, this process can take a while and requires us to question the costs and benefits of the new technology. I think we clearly see that happening now as more people ask when, where, and how is the most appropriate way to use personal tech.
Ali R. Tariq@alirtariq · Product Designer, Axonify
Hi, Nir - thanks for being here. A few years have passed since Hooked was released. I've used it a number of times to think through product design problems and I still find its deceptive simplicity one of its biggest assets. In the years since, what have you seen to be the biggest mistakes in how product designers are using the Hook model? Any lessons learned in seeing it being used in the wild?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@alirtariq Good to see you here as well Ali and thanks for the kind words! The biggest mistake I see is not considering the model in the first place! I see companies (almost daily) with business models that require frequent unprompted engagement (habits) but who haven't taken the time to plan out the four steps of their Hook. For some reason, people tend to jump into designing and coding without stopping to consider the psychological drivers needed to bring people back on their own. This is a huge mistake! So much time, money, and effort could be saved if product builders stoped to understand the Hooked Model and drew out their core hooks before moving forward.
Philip Lakin@philip_gregory · National Agent Ops Specialist @ Compass
Hi Nir, my team and I are currently creating a suite of products (online and offline) to help improve the live of actors. We are super interested in applying the Hooked model, that being said: variable rewards are very different actor to actor (depending on market, expectations , and goals). I would love to hear your thoughts on how to make a variable reward applicable to a wide range of users? And if you have any thoughts about the acting market in general, I am all ears. Thanks!
Nick K.@duck_muscle · Product Designer
What is a current product that you like that is completely outside of your Hooked methodology but still works well?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@duck_muscle the Hooke Model is only for products that must be used out of habit. Clearly, not all products need to be used habitually. There are lots of products I love that are infrequently used and therefore don't need habits. It's not that every product needs to be habit-forming, it's that every product that needs a habit needs a Hook.
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
Looking forward to taking your questions on Product Hunt for the next hour or so! Please excuse spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes as I will try and answer as many questions as quickly as possible. Dumb answers on my part however are not excusable. :)
keyul@keyul · Maker of Quick Code & Bot Stash
How can we apply hooked model on chatbots? What will be some good use cases where hooked model can increase retention on chatbot?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@keyul I wrote all about how to use the Hooked Model with chatbots here: http://www.nirandfar.com/2016/10... Although I should mention that I think chatbots are just part of the bigger trend of Conversational UI. Check out the article and let me know what you think.
Ali@asmiler
Which product(s) are you currently Hooked on now and what got you hooked on that product(s)?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@asmiler Whale has got me hooked lately. Lots of room for improvement but pretty good.
Rich Brown@designrichly · Director, Product & UX at Etsy, Paris
Hey Nir, you look good today. Following Ali's question, when people do attempt to use the Hooked model, where do they often get it wrong? I'm building tightly to it at the moment, but keen to avoid common pitfalls. The more specific the better!
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@designrichly See answer to @alirtariq question
Rich Brown@designrichly · Director, Product & UX at Etsy, Paris
@nireyal @alirtariq Ah just changed my Q after your response there - if you get a chance to re-address that would be great!
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@designrichly @alirtariq It really depends on the product. Each company can have difficulty at a different phase of the Hook. Either they don't have a frequently occurring "internal trigger", the "action" is too difficult, the "reward" isn't interesting or satisfying, or they fail to ask for "investment" that improves the product with use. It really depends on the particular challenge for each product team. There's no one most frequent pit fall.
Daniel Reilly@daniel_reilly · Freelance Developer and Entrepreneur
What industry/sector would you most like to invest in during the next few years that could benefit from a new generation of habit forming products?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@daniel_reilly I'm very excited about the opportunity to change habits for good. I've invested in companies like 7 Cups in the psychotherapy space and Pantry in food and I'd love to see more companies form habits to help people save money, live healthier, and work smarter.
Martin Boeddeker@martinboeddeker · Founder, FindFocus.net
Hi Nir, two years ago you wrote a blog post about "Products to Eliminate Distractions and Increase Willpower" and asked this industry should be called. Have you found one? I would like to know in which industry I'm working. ;) In the same post you wrote: The biggest problem with these technologies is that they don’t exhibit many of the important traits found in products that change behavior for good. For one, they’re not fun to use. (...) I worry many of the products attempting to keep us focused are things people feel they have to use instead of want to use. Because lack of alternatives I am focusing on making my "FindFocus" software easier to use and just build it for what a distraction junky like myself NEEDS (but not necessarily WANTS to use.) I try to add a lot of flexibility that alternatives like freedom lack (e.g. delayed unlocking, reminders, scheduled breaks, short pauses to blocking profiles, automatic start after turning on the computer etc.) However, although this will be a major improvement, I am not sure if that will be enough to make people hooked to a software that cuts them off from addicting services. Do you have any ideas/suggestions how to design a "distraction-blocker" that you would be willing to use or at least you would recommend people to use?
Jordan Jackson@jordan_jackson
Hi Nir, how have you seen the hooked model implemented on physical products and client service offerings say such as xyz consulting or real estate agents or etc. Also very much enjoyed your talk at productsf!
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@jordan_jackson I think IoT technology will enable much more habit-forming physical products, which will utilize the Hooked Model. As for service offerings, check out this article I wrote about "bolting-on" habits onto infrequently used services like real estate agencies: http://www.nirandfar.com/2016/09...
Jordan Jackson@jordan_jackson
@nireyal thank you!
Ashish Pratap@ashish_pratap · Game designer
How important is variable reward in a digital product?Is it absolute necessary to create a hook?Can we hook users if we try to appeal to their intrinsic value or motivation?For example giving them a purpose or higher meaning rather repeated pleasurable events.
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@ashish_pratap You are looking at variable rewards too narrowly. Variable rewards aren't just points, badges, and likes. Pursuing purpose and higher meaning can be fantastic variable rewards! Organized religions have been using them successfully for millennia.
Ashish Pratap@ashish_pratap · Game designer
@nireyal Thanks Nir,What I meant, what if there is no Variable reward (as discovered by Skinner experiments).Just to get your final thought :To create any hook or addiction we need certain variable reward,otherwise I guess the product has a high chance of failure.Let me know if I am thinking in right way.
Matt Mayberry@mattmayberry · Hacking Human Behavior at @BoundlessAI
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Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Nir thanks for joining us today. What is the one piece of advice you find yourself giving to founders most often?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@ems_hodge My most frequently given piece of advice to founders: If you want to build a habit-forming product, first know your user's Internal Trigger.
Maria Gosur@mariagosur · Graphic/Web Design/Developer
What is the most surprising finding you have discovered in your studies of habits?
Jha Priyank@iampriyankjha · People & Product Evangelist
I understand the hooked model. But how can we introduce more and more people to the hooked model, if not by spending a lot on marketing?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@iampriyankjha I don't understand your question. Can you tell me more?
Jha Priyank@iampriyankjha · People & Product Evangelist
@nireyal As in what activities or strategies are the predecessor of Introduction of The Hooked Model. (Keeping in mind that startups can't spend a lot)
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@iampriyankjha The point of using the Hook Model is to build habits so you don't need to spend money on advertising.
Shabbir Hussain Sihorwala@therealshabbir · The Real Product Designer
Shalom Mr Eyal. Can the Hook model be extended to positive social campaigns (not limited to technology)?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@therealshabbir the model is suitable for frequently occurring behaviors so it depends on what the habit you're looking to create for your social campaign is
Stef Nimmegeers@nimmegeersstef · Innovation Management, Botfather, Design
Hi Nir! I read this in an article: "I don't invest in Facebook messenger chat bots", Nir Eyal, the author of Hooked, exclaimed. He didn't trust Facebook bots since many had lost money with Facebook apps. Running a business on Facebook is risky, he explained. Can you please elaborate on this and tell us something about how you think bots will grow?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@nimmegeersstef I think that statement was taken a little out of context. It's not that I would never invest in a business built on Facebook messenger, it's that I'd be weary of any business built on someone else's platform. The company would need to build its own user habits and take people off the the host platform ASAP (the way Instagram did) or they risk being bled dry if they don't (the way Zynga was).
Ali Hanif@alihanif101 · Founder @ HANALI
Hi Nir, Thanks for doing this - Where do you see the biggest opportunity to compete for the attention of consumers currently? Is Virtual Reality the next big competing ground or is it Chatbots?
Nir Eyal@nireyal · Author of "Hooked" blog at NirAndFar.com
@alihanif101 I'm pretty bullish on conversational user interfaces. See: http://www.nirandfar.com/2015/07...