Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products in 4 Steps

Updated on

Here is an excerpt from 250words.com on how to build habit-forming products in four steps and then book review on Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

In 2010, Matthew Killingsworth and Dan Gilbert published a paper that uncovered a central component of human life. Using an app developed for the study, the psychologists contacted 2250 adults at random intervals during the day through their iPhones. They asked each adult to report what they were doing, whether or not they were thinking about what they were doing, and how happy they were. One finding surprised no one: sex is the only activity where people actually think about what they are doing. Here’s the revealing part: in 46.9 percent of the samples, subjects reported that they were mind wandering.

That’s right, humans spend almost the majority of waking life thinking about what’s not going on around them. One moment, we’re attentive and focused. Then, all of the sudden, we find ourselves in the clouds, pondering a totally irrelevant memory. And that’s not good news. “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind,” Killingsworth and Gilbert write. “The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”

Given how much mind wandering negatively affects well-being, it would be interesting to know how far we would go to avoid it. That is the premise of a provocative new paper by Timothy Wilson. In a study published a few weeks ago, Wilson conducted 11 experiments. Each one forced subjects to be alone with themselves for up to 15 minutes. In one of the conditions, in which subjects could use a nine-volt battery to shock themselves, Wilson discovered that 12 out of 18 male subjects—and 6 out of 24 female subjects—chose to shock themselves repeatedly. Boredom was so tenuous that pain seemed like a better alternative.

This fascinating piece of research brings me to Nir Eyal’s Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products* (co-authored with Ryan Hoover). According to Eyal, “a habit is when not doing an action causes a bit of pain.” By pain, Eyal doesn’t mean physical pain but an “itch,” a feeling of discomfort or dissatisfaction. When we’re feeling lonely we log onto Facebook; when we’re bored, we open Candy Crush; and when we’re craving a funny distraction, we open up YouTube. These crummy moments of day-to-day life are a breeding ground for habit-forming products.

With this insightful perspective in mind, Eyal developed “The Hook Model,” a four stage guide that outlines habit formation. I’ve outlined the model below, which is taken from the introduction of the book.

full article via 250words.com more on the book below.

4 Steps to Build Habit-Forming Products



Variable Reward


Hooked – Description

Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Why do some products capture our attention, while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?

Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products introduces readers to the “Hook Model,” a four steps process companies use to build customer habits. Through consecutive hook cycles, successful products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back repeatedly — without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.

Hooked is a guide to building products people can’t put down. Written for product managers, designers, marketers, startup founders, and people eager to learn more about the things that control our behaviors, this book gives readers:

  • Practical insights to create user habits that stick.
  • Actionable steps for building products people love.
  • Behavioral techniques used by Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other habit-forming products.

Nir Eyal distilled years of research, consulting and practical experience to write a manual for creating habit-forming products. Nir has taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. His writing on technology, psychology and business appears in the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, and Psychology Today.

Hooked – Review

Hooked: A Guide to Building Habit-Forming Products gives you the blueprint for the next generation of products. Read Hooked or the company that replaces you will.” – Matt Mullenweg, Founder, WordPress

“Nir’s work is an essential crib sheet for any startup looking to understand user psychology.” – Dave McClure, Founder 500 Startups

“When it comes to driving engagement and building habits, Hooked is an excellent guide into the mind of the user.” – Andrew Chen, Technology Writer and Investor

“You’ll read this. Then you’ll hope your competition isn’t reading this. It’s that good.” – Stephen P. Anderson, Author of “Seductive Interaction Design”

Leave a Comment