/Book Reviews

Review — Hooked

Having worked on the creation of digital and also physical solutions, I was intrigued at Nir Eyal’s book, Hooked, which is about hoe to build habit forming products. This book is certainly useful, but I feel that most of this information could be presented in just a few chapters (as opposed to a whole book). This book is a valuable read for Product Owners and Designers, but you may find yourself wishing for a bit more meat as you work your way through it.

“Companies increasingly find that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they create.” (p. 2)

Detailed Review

The Hook Model that is used throughout the book to illustrate the habit forming process is gold. While I feel that some of this is common sense, putting it into a defined process and clearly explaining each step is extremely valuable. It also allows you to easily examine workflows and context scenarios to see if they are fitting into the overall approach. Some parts of this framework, like the Variable Reward, were new ways of looking at how I should continue to pique a user’s interest and keep them coming back.

There is an effort to pull in research and examples throughout the book. Some of the examples prove to be stellar, but others seem less connected to the principles they are supposed to support. Some research seems powerful and applicable while other pieces are less valuable. I would have been interested to see more examples where an organization implemented this model and showing the processes that were used to come up with the desired result.

Highlights

The Fogg Behavioral Model was new to me, and I found it to be another tool to use when thinking about product decisions. While part of is seemed like common sense, having a formula to review when working with a product was helpful.

“The Fogg Behavior Model is represented in the formula B = MAT which represents that a given behavior will occur when motivation ability, and a trigger are present at the same time and in sufficient degrees.” (p. 62)

  1. I found the variable reward chapter to be probably my favorite in the book, as this is one of the elements that isn’t quite obvious. While I think we all know the value of a user receiving a reward of some sort for a step, I didn’t understand the data around the value of that reward being variable and unpredictable.

“Products utilizing infinite variability stand a better chance of holding on to users’ attention, while those with finite variability must constantly reinvent themselves just to keep pace” (p. 130)

  1. Investment was probably my second favorite concept revealed in the book. I think we often think of how users contribute to a platform, but I think the shift of viewing it as investment (and part of the overall habit-forming process) is important.

“The timing of asking for user investment is critically important. By asking for the investment after the reward, the company has an opportunity to leverage a central trait in human behavior.” (p. 144)

  1. I am glad the author spends time thinking about how to ethically use these approaches and what organizations should do if they suspect that given a user’s actions that they are becoming addicted to a specific solution.

“As long as they have procedures in place to assist those who form unhealthy addictions, the designer can act with a clean conscience.” (p. 171)

Closing Thoughts

Part of me wishes I could have you a book with these core concepts that was half the length of the current book. If that were the case, I would give it four or five stars and tell everyone to read it. However, I still think it brings a good amount of value for anyone who is making decisions on the formation or refinement of a digital product. It might just take you a little bit longer to get through than you would like.

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David Tucker

David Tucker

CTO Consultant for Custom Software

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