Hooked is a handbook for designing habit-forming products, and Nir Eyal explains how to ensure that your product gets (and remains) deep underneath the skin of users, providing you with practical steps how to replicate this habit-forming magic for your own company throughout the book. After reading this book, I can’t decide whether I’m more interested in designing habit-forming products or in finding out how to prevent products from forming my habits.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products is a fascinating read for product managers and technology designers, and I definitely recommend reading it. Eyal breaks down how we can design habit-forming products, what makes them so addictive, and perhaps most importantly, how we can use this power for good. As a product manager working for an organization, we have a responsibility to increase the ROI, whether that means making a checkout experience intuitive enough that users will make a purchase, or subtly convincing them they want—or need—the product we’ve built. We also have a responsibility to the user, however. We are responsible for ensuring that our user journeys result in positive experiences, and that we are encouraging users to do not only what is good for our organizations, but also for themselves.
Eyal explores this morality issue through the lens of both the business and the user. He knows that the business seeks out profitable opportunities, and he provides readers with valuable tips for creating engaging products. However, given that a good “hook” convinces the user he needs more and more of the product, an ethical business can’t create just any engaging product—and Eyal has sought out examples where the users’ lives are genuinely improved by the products they get hooked on.
The “Hook” model
At the book’s core is the Hook model, which is a four-step process that companies bake into their habit-forming products. The Hook model describes an experience designed to connect the user’s problem to a solution frequently enough to form a habit. Now, not every product or service can take advantage of all four parts of this Hook model. But most can.
Eyal’s Hook model consists of four steps which begin and then repeat to get customers ‘hooked’ on a product. The heart of the model lies in the ‘reward’ step: Eyal emphasizes that it must consist of variable rewards, and goes on to tell how such a reward system causes the release of a small dose of dopamine, which then reinforces the original action.