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HOOKED debuts on the WSJ bestseller list.

“Hi Nir,” the email began. “I have been reading your work and find it incredibly interesting.” Naturally, this is the kind of message a blogger loves to receive. However, this email was special for another reason. It was from a prominent New York publishing agent who represents several authors I read and admire. “I don’t know if you’ve already started down this road or whether writing a book interests you, but I’d be delighted to have a conversation with you if you are interested.”

Was she kidding? Heck yeah I was interested!

We scheduled a time to talk. She told me she is fond of my work and thought it could reach a larger audience if it was promoted by a major publisher. That email and the subsequent call would lead to the release of my book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Productswhich just debuted on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list this week.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 8.45.09 AMOn May 1, 1981, American Airlines launched its frequent flyer program AAdvantage. Since then, a flood of loyalty programs have attempted to bring customers back through rewards.

Today, you can become a card-carrying member of just about anything: hotels, supermarkets, drugstores and pizza chains. If you’re in a store, chances are someone will ask, “Would you like to join our rewards program?”

Marketing professors, store managers and executives are still not sure how effective these initiatives are. One puzzle is the link between participation and loyalty. It’s not that strong. Millions of Americans are enrolled in at least one loyalty program, but just a fraction of them are dedicated customers. Typically, loyalty programs work only to the extent that they reward customers who are already loyal.

UntitledMore than a year and a half ago, with the dedicated help of Ryan Hoover, I started working on my book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

Hooked compiled 2 years of writing and research (and many more years of professional experience) into a guide to help people like you design engaging products that have a positive impact on users’ lives.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Hooked is available in a new professionally published edition. The book looks and feels much better than the previous self-published edition and as a special offer to my readers I’ve created special bonus content to help you build more impactful products and better personal habits.

The bonus bundle contains content not found in Hooked, including:

  • A 10-part video interview with me on designing for user engagement.
  • The Hooked workbook — a step-by-step companion to the book.

This week I chat with Ryan Holiday, an author, hacker, and self-described “media manipulator.” Ryan’s new book “The Obstacle is the Way” takes an interesting look at how challenges shape and improve our lives.

We discuss the personal habits Ryan integrated into his working life to reveal how he accomplished so much in so little time. Enjoy!

product psychology

I do quite a bit of research, writing, and consulting on product psychology — the deeper reasons underlying why users do what they do. I also frequently teach and speak on the topic. Invariably, after each talk, someone approaches me and asks, “That was very interesting. Now where do I learn more?”

I’m never sure what to say, since there’s so much great information available. What this person really wants to know (and I’m assuming you do, too) is where all the really good stuff is. They want to know the highlights, the takeaways, and the methods and techniques that can help them be better at their careers, build better products, and ultimately improve people’s lives.

That’s why I’m proud to announce a new online course called Product Psychology. This free course taps into the collective wisdom of some of the brightest minds in the field to help you better understand user behavior. They’ve taken the time to dig up their favorite articles, videos, and resources to get you up to speed quickly. Best of all, lessons are sent free via email.

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by James Clear. James writes at JamesClear.com, where he share ideas for mastering personal habits. Join his free newsletter here.

In 1936, a man named Kurt Lewin wrote a simple equation that changed the way we think about habits and human behavior.

The equation makes the following statement: Behavior is a function of the Person in their Environment. [1]

Known today as Lewin’s Equation, this tiny expression contains most of what you need to know about building good habits, breaking bad ones, and making progress in your life.

Let’s talk about what we can learn from it and how to apply these ideas to master the habits that shape your health, happiness, and wealth.

What Drives Our Behavior?

Before Lewin’s Equation became famous, most experts believed that a person’s habits and actions were a result of the type of person they were, not the environment they were in at the time.

Nir’s Note: This post was co-authored with Stuart Luman, a science, technology, and business writer who has worked at Wired Magazine, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and IBM.

MAKING WORK INTO A GAME HAS ITS CRITICS. IS THIS A PRACTICE WORTH KEEPING?

11550024626_8a0284ef2a_bIn the never-ending effort to motivate employees, companies are taking cues from video games–adding scoring, virtual badges, and other game-like elements to everyday work processes to make jobs more fun.

Some proponents insist that one day every job will somehow be gamified, while detractors fear it’s just another management fad or worse, a sinister new form of corporate control.

To weed through some of the hype, here are four pros and cons to gamifying the enterprise.

The Good

1. GAMIFICATION INCREASES EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

The most often cited reason companies try gamification is to improve employee motivation. Apparently, there are a lot of workers who need the extra boost. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 70% of U.S. workers reported themselves as not being engaged in their jobs.

Nir’s Note: Justin Mares is the co-author of the new book Traction, a startup guide to getting customers. Justin’s framework provides a simple way for new marketers to discover their most effective triggers. Get 3 chapters of Justin’s book free at tractionbook.com.

6384294717_5047a35d48_bIn his book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, Nir Eyal introduces the concept of triggers as they relate to building user habits. As a quick refresher, triggers are anything that cues action. For example, when you see a “Sign-up Now” button on a blog asking for your email, the trigger is effective when it prompts you to submit your email address.

As we learn in Hooked, people will only take an action when they’ve been triggered by some cue. But how do you decide what triggers to use? Furthermore, once you have ideas for your triggers, how do you make them as effective as possible? What insights can we glean from user psychology to help us get more users to start using our product in the first place?

Nir’s Note: This guest post comes from Marc Abraham, a London-based product manager. In this article, Marc reviews the recently published book Designing for Behavior Change by Stephan Wendel. Follow Marc on Twitter.

Designing for Behavior ChangeBehavioral economics, psychology and persuasive technology have proven to be very popular topics over the past decade. These subjects all have one aspect in common; they help us understand how people make decisions in their daily lives, and how those decisions are shaped by people’s prior experiences and their environment. A question then arises around what it means to change people’s behaviors and how one can design to achieve such change.

Stephen Wendel, a Principal Scientist at HelloWallet, has written Designing for Behavior Change, which studies how one can apply psychology and behavioral economics to product design. In this book, Wendel introduces four stages of designing for behavior change: Understand, Discover, Design and Refine (see Fig. 1 below):

Recently, I started looking into the explosively popular new game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The game has ranked at or near the top of Apple’s U.S. App Store charts for the most downloaded free game. Industry watchers say the app could gross $200 million annually and net Kardashian a sizable chunk of the game’s profits.

My line of work is researching what makes some products so compelling and in the case of the Kardashian game, I wanted to know what was behind the app’s phenomenal growth.

I soon discovered that one potential driver of all of its installs is a rather sneaky tactic that exploits user error and can unwittingly post messages to players’ Twitter accounts.

It’s called the “viral oops.”

Unlike viral loops, which are actions users take in the normal course of using a product to invite new members, viral oops rely on the user ‘effing-up.