Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

Nir Eyal · First published December 25th 2013

Why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop? What makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit? Is there a pattern underlying how technologies hook us?
Nir Eyal answers these questions (and many more) by explaining the Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior. Through consecutive “hook cycles,” these products reach their ultimate goal of bringing users back again and again without depending on costly advertising or aggressive messaging.

Hooked is based on Eyal’s years of research, consulting, and practical experience. He wrote the book he wished had been available to him as a start-up founder—not abstract theory, but a how-to guide for building better products. Hooked is written for product managers, designers, marketers, start-up founders, and anyone who seeks to understand how products influence our behavior.

Book Summary

“Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” is a book written by Nir Eyal that explores the psychology behind why people develop habits and how those habits can be used to create products that people will use frequently. The book presents a model called the Hook Model, which consists of four elements: trigger, action, reward, and investment. These four elements work together to create a cycle that causes people to form habits with products.

Key Takeaways

1. Habits are powerful drivers of user behavior, and creating habits with products can lead to increased usage and customer loyalty.
2. Triggers are the first element of the Hook Model, and they initiate the process of habit formation. Triggers can be internal or external, and it is important to understand which triggers are most effective for your product.
3. The action step of the Hook Model is where the user actually uses the product. The action should be simple and easy to do, so that users are more likely to repeat it.
4. The reward step of the Hook Model is where the user receives a benefit from using the product. The reward should be satisfying, and it should be something that the user wants.
5. The investment step of the Hook Model is where the user puts something into the product that makes it more valuable to them in the future. This can be something as simple as saving data or completing a form.
6. The Hook Model can be used to create products that solve problems, meet needs, and bring joy to users.
7. Creating habits with products requires understanding the user’s motivation and creating a user experience that is satisfying and enjoyable.
8. Products that are habit-forming can be more valuable to users because they provide regular and consistent value.
9. To create a habit-forming product, you must design it to address a user’s pain points and solve their problems.
10. To sustain a habit-forming product, you must continually provide value to users and respond to their changing needs and motivations.