Sustainable Habits for Love – ProfsoUX 2018

The apps & services we keep using are the ones we love. And love is a habit, so let’s design around sustainable habits for love!

Out of all the apps on your phone, how many have you continued to use after the first week?

Closing Keynote – Sustainable Habits for Love

ProfsoUX 2018
14 & 15 April 2018, St. Petersburg, Russia

This talk covers Nir Eyal’s HOOK model and how we can use it to design meaningful products & services people can fall in love with. Empower people, never exploit them!


👇🏼 Skip to the transcript

Спасибо ProfsoUX & Stas Fomin for recording Brian’s closing keynote!


HOOK Model Canvas (PDF)

Character Map Canvas (PDF)


👉 Download the slides here (PDF)

Love is a Habit - Sustainable Habits for Love - ProfsoUX 2018 Closing Keynote


Special thanks to Julia Malyk, Julia Kryuchkova, Yuri Solonitsyn, & Hester Bruikman!


I’m hoping everyone can hear me. Yeah, yeah. Oh, this thing’s really working.

Well, okay. So habits, right? But before actually while I was preparing this presentation, something interesting happened to me. I started looking a little bit more closely at the logo of the actual conference.

And it got me thinking, what are we actually doing here? What is UX even, right? And if we break it down into its disparate parts, we see that there’s a user. Okay, there’s a person that we can look at, observe and see. And there’s an experience which happens deeper, somewhere inside, where we don’t really have ready access to. We can also take this as iceberg, right?

We can see this stuff on top, but the experience we can’t necessarily see. So when we talk about experience design, we’re not really designing experiences as we’re designing for them.

But then, what does that mean even? What is human experience at all? And what are we trying to strive for? What is our end goal?

And so that got me thinking too. Like what really is the epitome, the pinnacle, the high point of human experience? What is it for you actually?

You don’t know. Fair enough. Fair enough. It’s a very existential question.

I think to you probably have a better answer or like an answer to this. Habits, I heard. Emotions and memory, yes.

Yeah, I think these are all components of it. But then to, so to bring, so I agree with all of you and to bring it all together, it’s about love in my opinion.

And I feel like I’m talking now about love in its broadest sense. Love in opposition too. It’s opposite, which is fear.

Fear is when we feel unsafe. Fear is when we feel like we are not in control where we wanna be. And love is feeling in control.

Love is feeling connected. Love is feeling good, and secure, and happy about themselves.

And tomorrow, I actually have a nice formula about what love is and how we can measure that. I wasn’t familiar with that before actually. I’m gonna have to look more deeply into it.

So in that sense, I feel like whenever I try to create something for a user experience for someone else, and I kind of don’t like that word user, but yeah, whatever. When I try to create an experience for a human or I let an experience happen within a human being, I try to strive for this idea of love.

And the nice thing or one of the challenging things that makes it love an opportunity is that love takes time. Love doesn’t happen immediately. Love builds up over and over. Multiple choices, moments of choice. When we choose for the same person, or the same experience, or for the same thing over and over and over again, that’s how we fall from seeing something, to liking something, to loving something or someone.

So someone here mentioned habits as the epitome of human experience. Habits is a huge part of it. And the reason why or one of the reasons why is that we human beings are creatures of habit. We tend, even in a world that we live in today, where we have almost unlimited choices, we can talk to whomever we want to.

We have the internet. We can go anywhere we want. There’s so much stuff that we can do. Even with all of this choice, we still tend to concentrate most of our time with a very limited subset of those opportunistic choices.

For example, even though people might know almost 130 acquaintances, most people according to this study here, only have two really close friends. Two people with whom they share a very strong, authentic emotional connection with. Another example would be that we can go anywhere we want. Public transport allows us to visit any part of a city that we want to. Airplanes let us travel to any part of their world that we want to.

But we tend to spend our time in about three places mostly. We go home, we go to work, and there’s maybe a third place that we hang out at, but that’s really it. Everywhere else is kind of an exception to that. It’s funny. And then, how do we apply that to us? Well, look at all the apps that we can download, all the software there is, all the different tools that we could use, but we end up only using the three most favorite tools.

The ones that we really love are the ones, let’s say it like that, the ones that we have a habit around using are the ones that we end up using the most. About 80% of our time, according to this Comscore report. So that’s why habits or understanding the nature of human habits is interesting for us as people who are creators.

Because if we want people to use, enjoy, and benefit from the things that we create, we can maximize their benefit by helping that thing fit into their pattern of habits. And I’d like to take a moment here to talk about ethics.

So in Hester’s talk earlier, Hester on today mentioned value exchange. Sort of cryptocurrency as a way of exchanging value. And when we create things for people, in the sense that’s also value exchange.

Because we want to help CEOs have better control of their companies, but we also wanna take some value back. Because otherwise if we try to do everything for free, we can’t sustain that. So, we need to have some kind of money. Otherwise, we don’t eat and we can’t continue with our work.

So, what I like to try to remember or keep in the back of my mind when I’m designing, especially around habits, which there’s a lot of talk about, addictive apps and addiction this. And sort of those are very, in my mind, exploitative words.

The relationship between a drug dealer and the person who’s using drugs, which is another reason why I don’t like the word user necessarily. It’s not a healthy relationship ’cause one could say that the drug dealer is exploiting the user because this person’s addicted. So, the value exchange is out of balance.

So, I try to empower people. Make things that help people to be empowered and not be exploited.

This is me. My name’s Brian Pagan. I am the founder and UX coach at The Greatness Studio. I’ve been working in UX for about 16 years now and I’ve been acting for about five of those years.

And me, in a nutshell: I like to use techniques from psychology, acting, and user experience to turn digital products into sustainable relationships. And at the moment, I’m the UX lead for Max Data. It’s a Israeli blockchain startup and we work remotely, which is really, really fun. Oh, wait a second. I said blockchain.

Who has, oh, I marked that one already. Have you guys been playing bingo today? This is super fun. All right, you’re gonna get some more of these. There’s another one. Okay, so this is the basic plan of how the next few minutes are gonna go. We already did the introduction. Cool.

I’m gonna talk about the hook model in general terms. I’m just gonna give kind of an overview of what it is and a few examples. Then, we’re gonna talk about building empathy. Hold on. Yes. Good. Exactly. I really wanna win. So then, we’ll break down the hook model and it’s disparate parts, and show a little bit into what it is to develop a key habit.

How it’s to actually map the habits and use the hook model in practice. And at the end, you’re gonna get some goodies. I have some cool downloads and obviously these slides are available online. And I’ll give you a link to that.

Let us at the end. Ha, so you gotta wait. Are there any questions so far about anything I’ve said up to now? Perfect.

Okay. I mean it’s the end of the day. You guys wanna go out and have some drinks. I get it. Okay, I’ll try to keep it short. So a hook, the hook model itself. Nir Eyal is a psychologist from Stanford.

He’s pretty famous nowadays. He wrote a book called “Hooked.” And in it, yeah, in it he talks about a hook.

And a hook is a series of experiences that we can design that when a person goes through those experiences often enough, they become internalized.

So, this is kind of in contrast to gamification. We talked about the pitfalls and the dangers of having too much extrinsic value or extrinsic motivation. That’s an excellent one because here, rewards are offset by something else.

And then, yeah, we’ll talk about that later or at least later in the talk. But keep in mind what Tamara was talking about. If you weren’t at her talk earlier, it was amazing. You missed it. But she was talking about some of the pitfalls of gamification, what can go wrong when we give people extrinsic rewards for doing stuff.

Then, they do it for the reward itself and not for the value of the task at hand. Did I summarize that correctly? Yeah. Okay, good. So this, the hook model here, tries to alleviate that, right? So, we have a trigger which tries to remind someone to do something.

We have a reward, or sorry, there’s an action. There’s the thing that we want them to do. A person gets triggered. They do the thing we want them to do. We give them an immediate reward right afterwards. So, this is maybe the extrinsic part, what gamification tries to do. But where gamification stops short is the fourth step of investment.

And the nice thing about investment in this context is that if we can design an investment mechanism that works, then the action becomes more valuable to the person that’s doing it every time. One example, actually, this is, this stuff isn’t really new.

The framework itself is as far as I’ve, I understand it is sort of a mapping of a psychological mechanism that’s been there always. And now, we kind of are understanding it more than we did. So if we go to a coffee shop for example.

I can walk by the coffee place down the street. I see a sign and I’m thinking, oh that’s, hmm, I can get some coffee right now. I go in, I get my coffee. That’s the action, right? And my immediate reward is the experience of having the coffee. It’s variable in the sense that sometimes the coffee’s good, sometimes it’s not so good. If I’m going to Starbucks, they’ll fuck up my name and it’s funny. So, there’s a little variability in there.

And what they do to try to help me invest my effort. It’s not like I come here and I get my coffee and that’s it. They help me save it with loyalty card. So if I go there 10 more times, I get a free coffee at the end. So that’s what it does for the brand, let’s say, is that it gives me a reason to go back to their coffee place because there’s so many coffee places now. It’s insane. And what it does for me is that at some point, I’m getting a free coffee, which is cool.

So, this is the sort of way that it becomes more valuable to me the second time I go through and get another coffee at that place again. We do this as well with airlines. So, any kind of loyalty program or frequent flyer program will do the same thing.

I see a special offer online ’cause I want to go on vacation, I say, okay, I’ll take this airline and buy a ticket. And my reward, hey, vacation. Vacation’s fun, right? Not always.

So, that’s how it’s variable. My experience of going on the flight or on the vacation is always different. So, that makes it a little bit more of a a gamble, let’s say, which is okay.

And the reward that I get is that I might get some, or sorry, the investment mechanism is this frequent flyer program.

So if I keep going to that same airline and keep getting tickets from them, then at some point I can do things like I upgrades or get free flights or do something, buy products at their store that I can use points for. And a bit more concrete for us as digital people let’s say.

I worked at Philips for a long time and one of the things that I worked on was this thing called the Philips Health Suite Health app. It’s actually a platform where Philips makes watches and heart rate monitors and scales and everything.

And they also create content around how to use those. So when we were designing it, we looked very much at the hook model. I actually also, like you saw the hook workshop from Nir Eyal himself. And what we tried to build in is, for example, some kind of healthy behavior.

Like if a key habit is going running every week, let’s say we can figure people. We can say I’ll give you a little reminder in the app.

Maybe it shows up on your smart watch, for example, and say, hey, go for a run. And if someone goes for a run, then they get the immediate reward of feedback through the statistical analysis of all the things that they did.

They get their heart rate. They get the steps and all that kind of stuff. And the investment mechanism, this is an interesting one because it shows progress along a program.

But if you have a program or if someone signs up for like a weight loss program, for example, then the motivation isn’t only the stuff that you see in the app. Part of the value that you get back is that your body starts to change.

You get to lose weight. You feel more energy. You feel like you look better. You have a more easy connections with other people because whatever, you feel more attractive and stuff. This is a real world value that the digital program can give.

And this is the kind of stuff that makes me really excited. And that’s what I talk about when I say making people’s lives better. Okay, so we are gonna, I mentioned empathy already. I already marked it off on my card, so that’s very cool.

We talked a moment ago about the fact that human experience lives deep down. It’s under the sea. It’s in that part of the iceberg that we can’t see from the ship.

Dr. Froukje Sleeswijk Visser is actually someone from the Netherlands whose work is influenced mine in huge ways. And she creates a or she’s created a model that shows actually what these things can be.

So if we look at, I’m gonna go this way, if we look above, the stuff on the top of the iceberg, what we can actually see is what people say, what people do, the things that they use. We can observe all of these things. So, these are kind of the correlates of human experience.

These are traces of human experience. In that sense, anyone who does user research or user experience research is actually kind of a detective. Because we are trying to figure out through the research, through gathering analytics, we are trying to guess what’s actually going on underneath the water, what people know, what they feel, and what they dream.

That’s where love is. Like we’re talking about if we want people to love what we make, we’re trying to guess through using the clues that they give us. And I wanna make a point here as well that projecting is not the same as empathy.

And what I mean is think about how many times someone in like a marketing team or someone in a design team has made a decision based on how they would react in a certain situation. I like it like this. So, the person using this is gonna like it too.

Or I don’t like that. No one’s gonna like it, right? That in my opinion is projection. It’s not thinking about another person.

It’s thinking about myself and then feeling like you’re gonna feel like I do. But that’s not necessarily true. If we wanna really empathize, we have to learn a bit more.

We have to think about more of the details of what a person actually is and has and what kind of feelings that they go through, right? And I mentioned that I use acting techniques in user experience design. And I created actually this thing called a character map based on methodologies or methods that actors use.

And it’s actually quite similar to the map Tamara showed earlier about what really, what people really, really want. And to take that and import it to my model or my map, let’s say.

In acting, whenever we play a character, whenever we try to empathize with a fictional person, we always look at the objective first. What does this person want in any given scene? So when a person goes on stage, there’s always some kind of objective that they’re looking for. Some kind of thing they wanna do. Some kind of way that they can succeed. And thinking about the objective, we can also look at the obstacle.

So, like what things are holding that person back from reaching the objective. We can think of motivation.

So, what happens if the objective isn’t met? Like what are the stakes? What changes if the character succeeds? And what kind of opportunities are there that we can provide?

What kind of knowledge do we have that this person doesn’t have? Or what kind of capabilities do we have that they don’t have?

I’m not gonna go into this too much, but at the masterclass tomorrow we’re gonna use this. So, just a little plug there.

All right, so to summarize. The hook model consists of a key habit. We have to define what the actual habit is and we can go into the parts of a trigger, the variable reward, sorry, the action. And there’s a variable reward and we have an investment mechanism.

This is the basic thing. And the next trigger that I mentioned here is part of the investment mechanism because that helps load the next trigger, let’s say. And we’ll make that a bit clearer in a second.

All right, everyone’s still following? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, good. All right. So, the key habit. I talked about value exchange. Very nice inspiration from you guys by the way.

The key habit is the one thing that our proposition needs people to do for it to succeed. For example, I was playing with the play club game outside. And if no one plays it, then they don’t earn any money. It’s very simple.

So they have an incentive to make sure that people are actually playing it, to trigger people to play it and make a habit out of that. But at the same time, we also want to help people achieve whatever objective it is that they are trying to achieve. So we need them to help us, but we also wanna make sure that we can help them too. So, to use the example of the running app, let’s say.

If Alex, the woman that was, you know, using the sports app or whatever, if she wants to lose weight, then she can use the app all she wants. But if she doesn’t go out and run, if she doesn’t change her eating habits or whatever, it’s not gonna work.

So, she’s not going to achieve that objective that she wants to achieve. She won’t get the value out of using our product that we want her to get. So that’s what the key habit is for.

It’s basically framing the products or the problem space. So, triggering. The trigger is the thing that helps us to remind people to do the thing that we want them to do.

Another guy, so BJ Fogg worked together with Nir Eyal in Stanford. Actually he was there first and Nir Eyal came second. And BJ Fogg came up with this wonderful formula, basically saying that doing a behavior, doing an actual thing, is a function of your motivation, your ability, and a trigger.

So you have to want to do it, you have to be able to do it, and you have to remember to do it. It was an interesting thing. We were talking outside and with Andrey and I mentioned the cookies, and then he got up and went and got one.

It made me think of this because I, he was able and willing to eat a cookie and I triggered him and it worked. He exhibited the actual behavior.

I didn’t necessarily want him to, but you know, it works even without us really knowing about it.

So if we take this idea, it’s interesting for us to understand that a trigger works best when it’s anchored to an existing habit. So if we take Alex again, the one who wants to run a marathon, let’s say, or lose weight using this, the health app.

If she has a habit of coming home after work and then taking off her jacket, going straight to the couch and turning on Netflix. If that habit’s there already, I know I have that habit sometimes and it’s, yeah, not so great.

But that’s already a habit that she’s built. So if we can figure out the moment before, is another thing that I stole from theater let’s say, the moment before she makes the choice to go to Netflix is when she comes home, let’s say.

Coming home happens first and then going to Netflix happens second. If I can step in between that with my app or whatever, for example, and I can say when Alex comes home, I’ll remind her to go run instead of going to Netflix, then I can take over the association between coming home and going to Netflix.

In essence, I’m hijacking the anchor that’s already there. And that’s the most effective way to actually get someone to do something is to help them change a habit that they already have. Ah, how is the cookie? Hey.

Okay, the action itself. It’s pretty obvious that we want to figure out what kind of action it is that we want the person to do.

But there’s a a little bit more to it than that. So if we think about that equation from earlier, B equals MAT, there are things that we can do within our products to help people, let’s say, make it easier for people to conduct the action, to actually do the thing we want them to do.

And another thing that the character map is good for is for understanding the obstacles, like what’s keeping people away from doing the thing that we want ’em to do. And there are six different kinds of obstacles that Nir Eyal talks about in his book.

There’s obviously costs, something costs money. Something takes time. Maybe people don’t have enough time to do it. There’s cognitive and mental effort, or sorry, mental and physical effort. So it might be too hard. It might be, yeah, to even think about.

Or maybe if, you know, if I can’t lift you, I can want to all I want. Someone can tell me to do it, but it won’t work. I think I could. You’re not so heavy. Let’s try afterwards.

Yeah, yeah, there you go. And then, so there are two other ones as well. This is also quite interesting. Novelty and social norms.

So if something is weird, if something is new and it’s so unfamiliar to someone that they don’t know how to even deal with it in their own life, that’s a barrier to actually conduct that action. This is reminding me also about the tension that you had between CEOs and the their HR professionals below them. That they have different wants and needs.

Like I can imagine that some new practice in a business like that could be so new that it doesn’t really work. And from each side, they might be a fear of messing up with social norm. So if the boss knows that his people don’t like the system that you are selling to them, then maybe the boss won’t use it because he’s afraid that other people will hate him for it. For example like that. Okay, variable reward. Oh, I’m going nice and quick here.

All right. Variable rewards. And yes, they are intrinsic, but they can be tied also to intrinsic rewards. There are three. So from Nir Eyal’s book, there are three categories of variable rewards.

And I say variable because it’s important that the reward is different each time. Because if you give someone the same thing over and over for the same action, then the effect that it has on them will go down over time.

They’ll habituate. It gets boring and it won’t work anymore. So, we have to make sure that we understand how to change these things. But in order to understand how to change them, we should understand what they are as first.

So for example, there are rewards of a tribe which help people feel connected with each other. So if you can reward someone by helping them to meet new people or giving them access to a new social group, that’s a reward of the tribe.

Rewards of the hunt are where gamification is very much involved with giving people points, giving people badges, giving people stuff to collect, giving people things to gather. This is the hunt. It’s like kind of I wanna go out and get as much stuff as I possibly can.

Those are those kind of rewards. And there are also rewards of the self. And this is where games are really nice, ’cause games will help you to level up.

And sometimes games give you a profile and like your own sort of ranking or whatever. And the feeling of leveling up and getting a better rank and also overcoming your own sort of obstacles and challenges.

Maybe if you’re learning how to play the piano and you finally learned how to play that one song that you’ve been trying to play, this feeling of mastery.

You’ve conquered something. It makes you feel better about yourself. These are rewards of the self.

And to try to vary these things, if you wanna vary rewards of the tribe, you can give the community a voice. Obviously, people are fucking weird, right?

They’re very well, okay, weird is the wrong word here. It’s a bit too judgemental.

I meant to say people are unpredictable. Human behavior is messy. So, even by allowing other human beings to interact with the person that you wanna reward, let’s say, that’s already variable enough.

‘Cause you never know how good it’s gonna be. Whenever you scroll down on your Facebook feed or whatever, you never know how good this stuff is gonna be that you’re gonna find.

So you keep scrolling. You scroll down and, oh, that wasn’t very interesting, let’s scroll some more, you know?

And when it comes to rewards of the hunt, you can also give a variable return on that. So when I take an aircraft, when I take a plane, whenever I’m booking a flight somewhere, I don’t get the same amount of points. every time I book a flight. It’s actually tied to the distance of the flight.

I mean the variability is predictable, but it’s different enough that it makes me still, it doesn’t bore me, let’s say.

And then, rewards of the self are, like I mentioned earlier, you can give people levels. You can help them understand how far they’re coming.

So you can show people some progression and some feedback as well. Yeah, I’m sure the the play cuts. People know exactly what I’m talking about.

You build your city and make it gets bigger and you have more, you unlock different buildings that you couldn’t use before and that kind stuff. Yeah, it’s fun.

Okay, the last one is the most tricky one. It’s the most tricky one, but it’s also the most important one, especially if we are creating something, no offense to anyone who creates games, but if we’re creating like a what Brenda calls a productive system versus an experiential system.

So we play games as an end into themselves. We play ’em because they’re fun and we wanna have them be fun. And that’s basically the whole thing.

We want ’em to distract us from, let’s say the perils and crappiness of life or whatever. But if we want, for example, to make some kind of change in the world, some kind of change in real life to ourselves, like losing weight or becoming more healthy, or if we want to go to more different places or earn some kind of stuff, then it’s very important that we allow people to store the effort that they put in by going through the hook over and over.

We have to make it more valuable for them over time. And it does two things.

One thing is that it gives people more value over time, which is very interesting because it makes doing it better and it helps them get better, and it helps their experience improve.

But what that does for you as a creator, for us as creators, is the ones who are making the systems and that it helps people to stay loyal.

Because let’s say Nir Eyal has a great example of Spotify versus iTunes. And he says if your whole music library is in Spotify or in iTunes or whatever, you spent maybe years, months, years, whatever, building this library of stuff.

And another music service comes along that might be better in a lot of ways, but it’s harder for you to leave because you’ve already invested all this time in creating your playlists and creating your whole library. So, it’s harder for you to go to the next one.

So it makes you, it makes it easier for you to stay in using that one. But of course, we have a responsibility to also keep improving our own products so that we’re not locking people into shitty things and they, you know, they can’t leave or something. So investment, it’s the hardest one. It’s the most nuanced one.

But it’s also the best and most rewarding one for us as creators. And if you wanna get started on this yourself, you don’t have to go through and read the whole book if you don’t want to.

There are plenty of resources out there there. This isn’t the only hook model canvas. I just made this one because the existing canvas I felt was too simple.

And Nir Eyal’s own workbook, which he created and it’s really nice and it’s available for free on his website, but it’s very complex. It’s long, it’s a bunch of pages, and it’s got everything that you need to know really in it.

But if you just wanna have a workshop where you can facilitate people and coming, going through these steps and creating a hook cycle for your own product, this is a nice poster to hang up and you can throw post its on it and stuff and it really works.

And we’re using this tomorrow as well in the masterclass. So, love is a habit. Love is about coming back to the same person, the same product, the same experience, the same framework or representation of reality over and over and over.

Because we want to. Because it adds value to our lives. And we can exchange value with people and we can have sustainable relationships with people.

And on the note of Amber Case, let’s remember that it’s not the point, unless you’re a gamer or creating games, the point isn’t to keep people using your product. The point is to help people use your product so they can do something in their lives.

It’s not their job to be a click slave or whatever. It’s their job to be human and do stuff and enjoy life. So on that note, I wanna say spasiba (thank you).

Hi. Is it with, oh, yeah, yeah. Can I throw it? It’s probably better if we don’t.

Audience Member
That works. Okay.


Audience Member
Hi. Thank you for your speech. My question will be about do you see this technique, this methodology applicable to B2B products? Like I can clearly see a lot of examples about B2C stuff like consumer things, but what about business to business model?

For sure.

For applicable, maybe you can bring some examples.

Yeah, so an example, I’ve never used Tamara’s system, so but I will use it as a sort of example here just because you presented it earlier, where you talked about it earlier.

So, I’m gonna make some assumption and guesses. Probably everything I say is gonna be factually wrong, but hopefully it’ll help to answer your question.

So let’s say there’s a system of an HR person who has to conduct an employee satisfaction survey and understand how happy the people are that work for a certain company.

That survey has to be done at a regular basis or else the information that we have from one survey is then no longer relevant and maybe the boss doesn’t have an accurate picture of how engaged employees are. Something like this could help those HR people to remember to go and do this over and over, to actually motivate them or help them to build a habit around creating these surveys, sending them out, and making that whole thing work.

Does that make sense?

Audience Member
Yeah. But what could be the reward for those HR people in this case?

I’m not sure actually. We could figure something out. For example, it could be, let’s say, okay, so we have rewards at the tribe, rewards at the self, and rewards of the hunt.

I mean, if you wanna be really extrinsic shitty about it, you could probably pay the money each time they do it.

But then you incentivize them to cheat, which isn’t good. But I’m sure that there are some ways that we can figure out to do that. I don’t know if you guys maybe wanna get together and design the next version. Ah, here you go.

Yeah. Ah, dramatic tension. I love it. Yeah. Okay. Does that help?

Audience Member
Yeah, of course. I’ll pass the cube.

Oh, thanks. Anyone else?

Audience Member
Yeah, I have a question about the moment. How you find out where is the moment where people make choice?

Hmm, that’s a good one. Research, lots of research, understanding any kind of information gathering that you can do. I think you guys also mentioned earlier in your talk, trust what people do, not what they say. Yeah, for sure. So, my wife is a UX researcher and she’s taught me a lot about human bullshit.

Let’s say people lie a lot for different reasons. One, because maybe they don’t know. Like I mentioned with the iceberg model, people might think that they feel and dream or think or whatever in a certain way. But we humans actually don’t have ready access to what we are feeling and what we’re thinking. So, it’s something to keep in mind. That’s why you’re asking of course.

Yeah, yeah. So observation is one of the really nice ways to do it. If you wanna conduct different, there’s different ways of doing user research that help us to, let’s say, understand what people are doing.

Just to watch how they conduct themselves and draw conclusions from that. Obviously, it’s detective work, right?

We can see what they do and what they say, but we have to figure out for themselves like what is it. Things like FMRI or EEG, like all these neural things are also helping us understand at which moment a person makes a decision. So you can put someone in an FMRI machine, show them something, and then you can see how the activity in their brain changes, for example.

Of course, that’s all, that’s not perfect either, but it’s another way. Does that help? You’re looking for more specific answer. Okay. So, the short answer is gather information, watch people, ask people, that kind stuff. Thanks. Anyone else wanna get disappointed by my answer to their question?

Audience Member


Audience Member
Thanks a lot. It was very interesting.

Thank you.

Audience Member
I don’t wanna sound negative, just have like very general question about health apps. Do you think they actually help people to build new habits and become healthier or it stays like kind of game for them. They really love it, but they’re not ready to work hard on the health. So, they play for a while and forget about these apps.

Yeah, that’s a great question. I don’t think they work, to be honest, at least. And this is actually having worked on one myself.

I don’t think that health apps work in their current form, let’s say. And I feel like we also try to use health apps as a panacea, like a way to fix all of the problems.

We think, okay, in the United States right now, diabetes and overweightness is a huge problem. How do we solve it? Let’s build an app and just give it to everybody, right?

That’s not enough. So, health apps help people who might already be motivated to try to change something with their lives and change something with their health. Also, like BJ Fogg says the motivation has to be there first.

So health apps can work, but I don’t think that they do. Does that answer your question? Okay, thank you. Anyone else? Nope. Okay. Aha. Yes, hi.

Audience Member


Audience Member
Please describe the best example of using this this hook in you business life.

Well, I’m working on something right now, but it’s still in very beta stages and it’s like I don’t know if I can really talk about it.

But basically what we are trying to do is to connect people with service providers like mobile phone subscription, or your insurance company, or electricity company for example.

And the whole idea is that we can incentivize people to save money by sort of giving their information to those companies without an advertiser in between them.

But then in a way that keeps them in control and actually that they can earn money back or at least cryptocurrency back for it. Like, you know what I mean? If anyone’s gonna earn money off of their thing, it’s gonna be them, you know?

Yeah, that’s one way. But like, hmm. I mean, loyalty programs have been around for a long time. Frequent flyer stuff was since, I think the first frequent flyer program is 1976 maybe. So those obviously work.

Audience Member
Maybe back in it wasn’t a hook model.

No. No, indeed. But that’s kind of the thing I love about this because it’s not really something new. It’s sort of a new way to think about something that we see around us all the time. It’s like a framework of understanding how humans have habits anyway.

Like you talked about successful ones, but it doesn’t, just because something successful doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good. People who are smokers, okay, have this thing.

You know what I mean? And I have this too sometimes ’cause every now and then I smoke and it’s not a great thing, but it’s, you know, kind of a habit that I’m trying to break.

If I, for example, I could be out drinking and it increases my motivation, right? And then I see someone light up a cigarette. So, that’s the trigger for me.

And if I have the ability, like if I have the money with me, I’ll go buy cigarettes for example. And that’s the reward that I get is the feeling of, oh yeah, that’s so nice. And the investment is it’s a chemical one, right? So the nicotine comes into my body and I slowly get addicted to it. It’s not a good habit, but it’s a successful one, if that makes sense. Does that answer your question?

Audience Member

Okay. Anybody else? Yes. Yura.

Yeah. Thank you so much for your talk actually, you pick me twice during that. But I do have one more question. So is there any bad examples that, you know, when you tried this model and it didn’t work?

When I’ve tried this model and didn’t work?

Yeah. Yeah, on some project. And what was the reason or the reasons?

Hmm. Okay, that’s a very good one. Oh, thanks for that. And I might circle back to yours now ’cause it’s getting me thinking about my past a little bit.

So the app that I showed you, the Philips Health app, actually I don’t work at Philips anymore, so I’m not privy to all their analytics and the details of how successful it really is.

But if I look on the app store, it’s got horrible ratings. It’s like one or two stars. It’s fucking terrible and I’m ashamed almost about this. And I don’t necessarily think that it’s the model itself.

Here’s a typical designer blaming it on developers, right? But though all the, if I look at the comments, it’s all about “the app crashed, this thing didn’t work, I tried this feature and it was broken,” this kind of thing.

“It didn’t sync with my watch,” you know, all that kind of stuff. So, it’s not necessarily that I don’t think the model itself failed. Maybe it did. But I think the way that we tried to enable it didn’t work. So the delivery mechanism, if that make sense.

Does that answer your question?


Okay, well now, but what’s the other part?

So, it seems like the, you still believe that model works, but the appliance of the model didn’t work because of probably developers.

Well, not just because of developers. There’s a whole bunch of stuff’s also probably lots of terrible business decisions that have been made to put that situation in place where developers are probably rushed and they were incentivized the wrong ways and all this kind of stuff.

But to answer that question more broadly about the model itself, I think the model can work, but it’s gotta be used the right way. It’s like having a hammer. It’s just a tool really. I can use a hammer effectively, but if I try to use a hammer to wash dishes, it’s not gonna work. If that makes sense.

Yeah, thank you.

Yeah, thank you. And to circle back to your thing, I worked on another thing at Philips, which is called uGrow and it’s a baby tracking platform.

And it’s for new parents to be able to understand better about how their baby’s health is working. And to make it work, the key habit is to actually track things.

So if a mother breastfeeds, we need to actually have her put it in the app. Otherwise, the app doesn’t know that she breastfed and we can’t keep track of it. So, that’s a successful example because people love it. It’s got a like 4.5 rating, star rating in the app store.

I read the comments and people are like over the moon about it. It’s fantastic. So, maybe that’s the answer you were looking for, huh? Okay, thanks.

Last question.

Audience Member
Hi, thank you for talk. In addition to-

Where are you at?

Audience Member
Hey, I’m here.

Oh, hey!

Audience Member
In addition to previous questions, maybe the model itself is good, but what are the most common ways to fail implementing it?

The last step. The investment mechanism is probably the most, like I said, it’s the most difficult one. It’s also the least understood one I think.

Audience Member
What can go wrong?

Yeah, yeah. So the health app for example that I talked about. The part of what we were trying to create in the investment mechanism is the collecting of data and showing data in charts and giving you like charts of all of the runs that you’ve taken or the good sleep that you’re doing and the calories that you’ve taken.

And the more times you go through the hook, the more data we have in the graphs and everything, the more full it becomes. And the idea was that the more data we collect and show you, show people, let’s say, the better it would help them to continue doing the stuff.

But as we’ve seen in a lot of other health apps, Fitbits and stuff like this, all these things, they kind of work on the same principle that they just gather data and show it back.

And it does, it’s not enough for most people. So that’s how a lot of these things break down.

We have to figure out some way that it makes it really more valuable every time to go through and do the action. Like your reward has to be better and actually the extrinsic value has to be made more concrete, if that makes sense.

So just showing people charts and everything, it’s not enough. Does that answer the question? Thank you.

Thanks, Brian.