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Habit Testing and Opportunities — “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” Summarized

Building a habit-forming product is an iterative process and requires user-behavior analysis and continuous experimentation.

1. Discovering Habit-Forming Opportunities

This does not require an existing product to test.

Instead of asking “What problem should I solve?” ask “What problem do I wish someone else would solve for me?”

As you go about your day, ask yourself why you do or not do certain things and how those tasks could be made easier or more rewarding.

A. Nascent Behaviors

  • Many breakthrough technologies were at first dismissed by critics as toys or niche markets.
  • Looking for nascent behaviors among early adopters can often uncover valuable new business opportunities.

B. Enabling Technologies

  • “Wherever new technologies suddenly make a behavior easier, new possibilities are born.”
  • Identify areas where a new technology makes cycling through the hook model faster, more frequent or more rewarding.

C. Interface Change

  • Whenever a massive change occurs in the way people interact with technology, expect to find plenty of opportunity.
  • Changes in interface suddenly make all sorts of behaviors easier.
  • When the effort to accomplish an action decreases, usage tends to explode.
  • Look forward to anticipate where interfaces will change.

2. Habit Testing

The following steps assume you have a product, users, and meaningful data to explore.

A. Step 1: Identify

  1. How often “should” one use your product? Use publicly available data from similar products. If no data is available, educated assumptions must be made.
  2. Identify how many and which type of users currently meet this threshold.

B. Step 2: Codify

  1. How many users are enough who meet the criteria of habitual users? (5% is a good initial benchmark)
  2. Identify the steps these users took to understand what hooked them.

You are looking for a habit path — a series of similar actions shared by your most loyal users.

C. Step 3: Modify

  • Identify ways to nudge new users down the same habit path

Tracking users by cohort and comparing their activity with that of habitual users should guide how products evolve and improve.

Do this now

Refer to the answers you came up with in the last “Do this now” section to complete the following exercises.

  • Perform habit testing as described in this chapter.
  • Be aware of your behaviors and emotions for the next week as you use everyday products. Ask yourself:
    What triggered me to use these products? Was I prompted externally or through internal means
    Am I using these products as intended?
    How might these products improve their onboarding funnels, reengage users through additional external triggers, or encourage users to invest in their services?
  • Speak with three people outside your social circle to discover which apps occupy the first screen on their mobile devices. Ask them to use these apps as they normally would and see if you uncover any unnecessary or nascent behaviors.
  • Brainstorm five new interfaces that could introduce opportunities or threats to your business.

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Web developer & project manager with experience in React, Nest.js and Flutter

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Maximilian Eckert

Maximilian Eckert

Web developer & project manager with experience in React, Nest.js and Flutter

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