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

Hooked by Nir Eyal

The first thing I do every morning is rush to my phone and check my emails. Every evening I promise myself to follow a different morning routine: drink my cup of coffee, relax my mind and plan the day ahead. And yet when the next morning comes, I am back to the same old habit.

If you want to learn more about why that Mail icon is so addictive, Nir Eyal’s book ” Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” is an excellent start.

Nir Eyal should be a familiar name to anyone interested in the topics of gamification, consumer motivation and influencing user behavior.

He worked in the video gaming and advertising industry and became an expert in techniques that motivate and influence users. Nir has designed and taught courses at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, and posts regularly on his blog, which I read regularly.

When I was asked to review his book I didn’t hesitate.

Being a regular reader of Nir’s articles, I knew his book was good. The fact that it got almost perfect reviews on Amazon reinforced my belief.

“Hooked” is a reference book for developing products that will get users engaged and coming back for more. It provides a clear, practical and easy to follow road map for designing products that become first to mind for satisfying a specific need.

Just thinking of the success companies such as Facebook and Google, that are illustrative of the Hook model, is enough to realize the developing a habit forming product is good for business.

And yet surprisingly “Hooked” is among the first to address the topic comprehensively, and provide a framework with clearly defined steps.

The book focuses on how to turn a user interaction with a product into a habit. But what is a habit?

According to the book “Habits are defined as “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues: things we do with little of no conscious thought”.

Nir’s “Hooked model” requires four ingredients: trigger, action, variable reward and investment.

In the end “through consecutive hook cycles successful products reach their ultimate goal of unprompted user engagement, bringing users back repeatedly, without depending on costly advertising or aggressive marketing”

This sounds like a dream come true for any marketer, designer, or start-up founder. But Nir is cautioning that the Hooked model should not be viewed as a “one size fits all” concept. Companies who sell infrequently bought or used products might not benefit to the full extent of using it.

The book explores each of the four elements of the Hooked model in great details and through plenty of meaningful examples. Many of the companies exemplified operate in the technology field. However these concepts can be easily extrapolated to other industries that are in need of habitual users.

What ‘s unique about this book is its practicality: the end of each chapter summarizes the key concepts are summarized as a bullet list, which makes them easy to remember. Moreover, if you are planning to make your next new product habit forming, at the end of each chapter you will find a practical “to do plan” that will help you convert the information presented into actionable steps.

Overall “Hooked “is a great read great read, and a surprisingly easy one. This book is habit-forming in itself- once you start reading it you become hooked and don’t want to put it down.

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