Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

The book itself is well-written and, like Nir's workshop, is organized and presented in a way that makes its teachings actionable.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
A few years ago I was invited by a colleague to attend Nir Eyal's Hooked Workshop at Wentworth Institute of Technology. At the time I was still working as the CTO of Lifeables, and we were desperately trying to find strategies to keep our users engaged. Needless to say, the thought of being able to "hook" users and have their use of it turn into a habit was very appealing. The opportunity couldn't have been more timely.

The workshop was a fantastic experience. I found Nir to be exceptionally well-versed in behavioral psychology and how it could be applied to the current technological landscape. I remember thinking at the time that his "hooked model" was a collection of common sense concepts simplified, organized and packaged in a way that made them actionable. I left that workshop excited and overflowing with ideas.

As the story goes with startups, Lifeables struggled to find the right market fit (perhaps because we discovered Nir's hooked model too late :-)) so I moved on and joined ShopAdvisor as their VP of Product/Technology. The product was well established when I arrived, but I remained a constant advocate of Nir's model with the product team as we iterated.

Several months ago, ShopAdvisor began a major redesign of our mobile apps and website to align better with our publisher partnerships. This was a great opportunity for us to rethink our product and how it could better serve our users' needs (or help them scratch an itch) and solve a major pain point for them. I'm pretty sure the product team was getting sick of me constantly quoting Nir's workshop and website over and over again, so I had my product managers read Nir's book. I figured that if Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products was anything like the workshop I attended, then it would be an excellent teaching guide and a handy reference. I also bought a copy for myself to refresh my knowledge and see if there was anything new to learn.

For me, re-reading the book was another truly enlightening experience. All of the concepts were familiar from the workshop, but seeing them presented in Nir's organized fashion got the wheels turning faster than ever before. For my team, it had a significant impact as well. Every idea is now evaluated based on how it fits into the Trigger, Action, Reward, and Investment cycle. ShopAdvisor launched our new iOS app and website last November and completely revamped our user communication strategy based on some of the teachings from this book. We continue to iterate and optimize the experience for our users using Nir's principles as part of our design and development processes.

The book itself is well-written (and edited) and, like the workshop, is organized and presented in a way that makes its teachings actionable. Every chapter ends with a DO THIS NOW section that gives you concrete TODO items to help implement the Hooked Model. I challenge you to read this book without having several ideas of how to improve a product of your own. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

The book is available for sale at Amazon, plus Nir has a great website at NirAndFar.com that is worth checking out. He regularly posts new content that is extremely interesting and valuable to product managers and startups trying to find their way.


~ Jeremy

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