Understand what drives user behavior.

Download the official Hooked workbook to learn how.

How to Trigger Product Usage that Sticks

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Janet Choi, Senior Manager of Product Marketing and Content at Customer.io

Meditation, like any healthy habit, takes repetition to stick. But while the folks behind Calm, a meditation and mindfulness app, knew their product’s core value was helping people to learn and build a meditation practice—initially they didn’t put too much thought into the practice part of it all.

That changed when they dug into their behavior data and discovered that users who had taken pains to schedule a daily reminder in the app’s settings were much more likely to stick around. When they proactively prompted new users to set a daily reminder after completing their first meditation session, Calm saw a 3x increase in daily retention — and according to their analytics platform Amplitude, this boost impacted weekly and monthly retention as well.

Calm increased the success of their product by making it easier for their users to remember to use the app for its core product value.

If you make web or mobile products, you’re actually in the business of task management. You’re counting on your product to become a recurring part of your customers’ lives. In order to accomplish that, you have to motivate your users to build a new habit. read more…

How to Get People to Help Each Other, Online and Off

How to Get People to Help Each Other, Online and Off

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Max Ogles, who writes at MaxOgles.com.

On March 27, 1964, Kitty Genovese was brutally attacked and killed in the open streets of New York City. What makes Genovese’s story so tragic is that police later discovered numerous people were aware of Genovese’s distress but never came to her aid. Though the total number of witnesses is disputed, the story stands as an example of the bystander effect, the psychological phenomenon where people are less likely to assist if they know others are around.

But there’s good news. A 2011 research study showed that the bystander effect can actually be reversedWhile it’s unlikely you’ll witness a murder, the bystander effect can occur online as well as off. Understanding how to get people to help one another is important for anyone building an online community.

Let’s take a closer look at why the bystander effect occurs and the critical research that shows how to reverse it. read more…

Hyperbolic Discounting: Why You Make Terrible Life Choices

Nir’s Note: This guest post is written and illustrated by Lakshmi Mani, a product designer working in San Francisco.

Have you ever had a mounting pile of work you know you need to do but for some reason didn’t? There’s an important deadline looming, your boss is breathing down your neck, the pressure is on — all signs are pointing to you getting it done. Yet you put it off, turn on Netflix, and fantasize about how you’re going to crush it tomorrow.

Hyperbolic discounting: Why you make terrible life choices Click To Tweet

read more…

Here’s How Amazon’s Alexa Hooks You

Here’s How Amazon’s Alexa Hooks You

Nir’s Note: This guest post is by Darren Austin, Partner Director of Product Management at Microsoft.

Last year we added a new member to our household. I must admit that upon first meeting her, our initial impression was that she was a little creepy. Today though, we can’t imagine life without her.

We’ve never seen her face, but we talk to her throughout the day, every day. She helps us keep track of our to-dos and shopping list, reads us the news and weather, and can sing nearly any song we’d like to hear. In fact, we have become so accustomed to her presence that we invited her to join us in nearly every room in the house. She listens to us when we say goodnight and is there first thing in the morning to wake us up.

Her name is Alexa and she is the voice of the Amazon Echo. If our experience is any indicator, there’s a good chance Alexa (or a technology like her) will soon be a presence in most households.

How did Alexa become such an integral part of our lives? And how did the technology profoundly change our daily habits?

It turns out that Alexa shares a common trait with other habit-forming technologies like Facebook, Slack, and the iPhone — the Amazon Echo has a great Hook. read more…

Technology Is Not Hijacking Your Brain (video)

Some tech critics will have you believe that technology is “hijacking your brain” or that it’s “irresistible.” Not only is that not true, believing such nonsense is dangerous.

In my recent talk at The Next Web conference, I discuss:

  • The difference between technological addiction and distraction.
  • The moral obligation of tech companies who knowingly addict people.
  • What to do about our dependence on technology in the workplace.
  • How to put personal technology in its place by asking one a simple question.

read more…

When Distraction is a Good Thing

When Distraction is a Good Thing

Is distraction a curse or a blessing? Not giving full attention to what we should be doing makes us miss deadlines, fail classes, and crash into other drivers. Distraction certainly has a price.  Nonetheless, we love our distractions! Social media, spectator sports, movies, books, TV shows, the news, video games – what would we do without them?

Clearly, there are benefits to distractions as evidenced by the fact that nearly everyone on earth seeks them out. But why? Although they seem to pull us away from more important things, what purpose do they serve? And, when at times we seem to give in to distractions, how do we ensure they serve us well?

Distractions Can Ease Pain

Our brains have a limited ability to focus. We can’t pay attention to everything around us all at once so we must choose what to focus on. For example, we may choose to focus on work while struggling to resist more interesting distractions.

However, in some situations, we can leverage this biological limitation to our advantage. In her book, SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully, Dr. Jane McGonigal, describes how distractions can be a powerful tool for reducing the impact of painful or negative experiences.

read more…

Business, Behavior, & the Brain
Hi, I'm Nir. I build, study, and write about products and ideas that move people. More about me here.


This blog is about the intersection of psychology, technology, and business. I call it "Behavioral Design".

I write to help companies create behaviors that benefit their customers while educating individuals on how to design healthy behaviors in their own lives. Feel free to read more about me here.


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