Hooked’s Eyal: 3 Steps to Hooking Users

Nir Eyal wrote “Hooked”, a book on developing strategies to hook users into products.

The first post from him that I came across talked about three (3) steps to make your users form a habit:


Now that you have the requisite site and stats, you need to answer the first question of Habit Testing: “Who are the habitual users?” First, define what it means to be a devoted user. Ask yourself how often a user “should” use the site. That is to say, assuming that some day all the bugs are worked out…how often would you expect a habitual user to be on the site?

Be realistic and honest… you’re just looking for a realistic guess to calibrate how often users will interact with your site.


Now that you know how often a user “should” be using the site, it’s time to crunch through the numbers and identify how many of your users actually meet that bar. This is where hiring a stats wiz can prove exceedingly helpful. …The best practice here is to get create a cohort analysis to provide a baseline by which to measure future product iterations.


Hopefully, you’ll have at least a few users who interact frequently enough for you to call them devotees. But how many devotees is enough? My rule of thumb is 5%. Though your rate of active users will need to be much higher to sustain your business, 5% is a good benchmark to being Habit Testing.

However, if at least 5% of your users don’t find your product valuable enough to use as much as you predicted they should, you have a problem.

…Even if you have a standard user flow, how users engage with your site creates a unique data fingerprint which can be analyzed to find patterns. Sift through the data to determine if there are similar behaviors that emerge. What you’ll hopefully discover is a “Habit Path”, a series of similar behaviors shared by your most loyal users.


With new hypotheses in mind, it’s time to get back inside the build, measure, learn loop and take new users down the same Habit Path the devotees took. For example, leveraging their Habit Path, Twitter’s onboarding process now guides new users to start following others immediately.

Christine Outram: What Starbucks Gets that Architects Don’t

Christine Outram is a former architect, MIT research fellow and currently a designer at a brand strategy agency.

She talks about how architecture has focused on form without listening to consumers, to the people inhabiting the spaces they design.

Love what she says because it applies to any job that is supposed to serve people, but has grown self-referent (i.e. marketing, Dribbble design).

Dear architects,

You’re outdated. I know this because I once was one of you. But now I’ve moved on. I moved on because despite your love of a great curve, and your experimentation with form, you don’t understand people.

I correct myself. You don’t listen to people.

In legal terms, an architect is the all seeing, all knowing, building professional….

…But the truth is, most of you don’t try. You rely on rules of thumb and pattern books, but you rarely do in-depth ethnographic research. You might sit at the building site for an hour and watch people “use space” but do you speak to them? Do you find out their motivations? Do your attempts really make their way into your design process?

This really hit home for me when I read a recent article on the design of Starbucks stores. Now you might hate Starbucks. You might believe they are a soulless commercial entity with no architectural merit at all, but do you know what they are good at? Responding to people’s needs and desires.

The article reads:

Starbucks interviewed hundreds of coffee drinkers, seeking what it was that they wanted out of a coffee shop. The overwhelming consensus actually had nothing to do with coffee; what consumers sought was a place of relaxation, a place of belonging.

My dear architects. This is why Starbucks designed round tables in their stores. They were strategically created “in an effort to protect self-esteem for those coffee drinkers flying solo”. They were not round because the architect felt it looked better that way, they were not round because they were cheaper, they were round because as the article concludes “there are no empty seats at a round table”.

No wonder architecture has become a niche vocation. You don’t connect with people any more.

The problem is that architects seem to pray at the feet of the latest hyped-up formal language. I dare you. Flip through an architectural magazine today. Find any people in the photographs? I didn’t think so. Find plenty of pictures that worship obscure angles and the place where two materials meet? You betcha.

5 Ideas I liked (since January): Pie + Creative brainstorming, Google work philosophy, Watercolor Typography, Facebook Userflow

1. One of my favorite ideas in the past year.

Pie + User Feedback or Community Involvement + Design = PieLab

2.  This PaidContent article on the insensitive coincidences of online ads and tragic news stories (e.g. shooting massacre articles and bloody novelty shirt ads).

Screencap by Evan Brown

3.  “Why Google Does Things The Way It Does“, by The Guardian.

Thought-provoking.  Because you keep hearing about how Google is revolutionary, but they’re never as suave at branding themselves as Apple, plus they have weird ideas like Google glass, and annoying decisions like killing Google Reader:

“In its behaviour and vocabulary, Google oozes scientific method. A couple of times recently I’ve heard Google executives say in public, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’. …engineers are trained not to act on intuition. You are allowed to have intuition, of course, but you use it to make hypotheses, which you then test. You act on the results of those tests…

When an experiment is completed, you either choose to follow up on it, or you terminate it and move on to something else. A scientist doesn’t get emotional about this; it’s the way the system works, and everyone knows that it’s all for the best.”

4.  I don’t know which I enjoyed more – the Maricor/Maricar watercolor typography exercises…

Or the Shillington Design Blog “I Love These Guys” category page, where they were featured?

Shillington Design Blog - MaricorMaricar
Shillington Design Blog – MaricorMaricar

5.  Facebook sharing its “Report Abuse” interaction flow.

7 Magazine-type blogs: Culture-curation’s really where it’s at now, I guess?

1.  Flavorwire  – “Cultural news and critique

I like the relationship between this cultural news magazine, and Flavorpill, which is their web app to “find events in your city”.

A well thought-out experience, of learning about, finding and going to interesting things.

In fact, I would probably measure the success of a “culture news” website by the number of individual articles I feel like spontaneously opening, plus the number of outgoing links that I also open.

In that case –

Articles:  4

10 Criminally Underrated 90’s songs

Video of the day: If Pinterest were Invented in the 90’s

What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links that Made the Rounds in Our Office

Glowing Night Photos of Urban Grocers

Clicked external links: 4

Jawbreaker Shot Glass

and, from probably one of the most addictingly viral “pop culture news” magazine sites – Buzzfeed:

The Top 10 Most Legally and Illegally Downloaded TV Shows

14 Trends from Coachella 2012 You’ll Probably See More of This Summer

13 Untapped 90’s Fashion Trends

2.  Domus I love this magazine/site.  It looks just immersing and beautiful, and the features are good slices of the art and design world.

3.  Kempt

I like this.  In comparison to hearty (#6 in this list), this is more like what I’m talking about.

Distinct voice, even if isn’t exactly for me.

Feels crowded, but the content seems well-written enough – fresh takes on even “normal”-seeming things.

4. The SuperSlice

Slick and snazzy.

Altogether glossy branding and design.  With the slim category colors and clean serif title fonts.

5.  Social Design Zine

In Italian and English, I think one of the more high-brow and intellectual among this bunch, with reviews of design books and analyses of logos.

6.  hearty magazine

Love their logo, and the look of their header.

Unfortunately, I don’t fully know what to make of the magazine’s “voice”.

Not as youthfully luxurious and fashionably brash as Nylon, but also not as insightful a cultural lens as Thought Catalog.

For me it’s like the “Cosmopolitan” magazine of the web: it’s a bit too full of fluff, I’d rather read a men’s magazine.

7.  The DEFGRIP blog.

Bike culture and art.

I love that it has such a clean and crisp aesthetic for a BMX culture magazine.

Diversity is so beautiful.

5 Things I Liked Today: Minimalist survival kit, iconic hair posters, “ad improvement” device and a generation gap infographic

1. Roozt‘s generation gap infographic via Trendhunter

I don’t know where they based their word clouds.  But this does seem interesting.

2.  Menos Uno Cero Uno‘s Just In Case compact survival kit via Trendhunter

Obviously it has to come with chocolate.

3.  Copyrighted Famous Hair by Patricia Povoa via Design Taxi and Bloody Loud

4. Subpixel, by F.A.T. via This Wolf

This smart set of “artist/hacker/activists” put together this “subway advertisement upgrade kit”, out of laser-cut acrylic and razor blades.

Maker-culture subversion at it’s finest.

By the way, great Co. Design feature on this batch of maker-culture movies cropping up.

My eyes figuratively bleed sometimes, at how just..good-looking the Co. Design site is.

5.  Creative Roots.  I love the idea of a global design site, showcasing cultural nuances.

Like this Global Street Food  installation and this Japanese branding feature. via Go Media

Global Street Food by Mike Meire
Micchan restaurant identity by IC4Design
London East Street restaurant by “i-am” Associates

Fast Company Redesign: Making me, uncharacteristically, favor digital over print

Lo and behold, Fast Co. got a nice new facelift and punched up their digital brand extensions!

*Forgive me, I first started writing this post on February 01, 2012, but I didn’t get around to posting until now.  So this is severely outdated.

I haven’t even checked out the Fast Company site in quite a while; but the article link from my Facebook feed seemed interesting.

To my surprise, this page opened in my browser:

I can’t even fully remember what it looked like before, which slightly frustrates me since it would have been great to compare them side by side.  But, even without an actual copy of the old design, this current one just seemed much cleaner, and immersive.

The page also contained a link to the strategy behind the redesign.

My liking for the comments section was sparked by that redesign article.  I liked how they were thoughtful about users’ feeling that they were part of the content – using sophisticated type and a sizable font to showcase the comments.  Smart smart smart.  Made me want to see my name in each comment stream.

Kudos to the team, I love how it does feel more like a magazine adapted to the digital age.  There’s a splashy cover photo, clean, smart fonts, and I like the subdued pinstripe  underneath the sidebar.

I aso like the execution of the “social layer” – with the links being “called up” only when you hover over the smartly designed Share, Like and Tweet counters, and the fixed header once you scroll past the first fold!

10 Finds for the Day: Web design (theories, ads, global samples, info visualization)

It was a good browsing day.  Just one great find after another.

1.  First up were Smashing Magazine’s helpful features.

I loved their global web design articles.  The cultural patterns and design lessons from the different countries gave a certain “flavor” of insight that you can’t see just looking at a hodge-podge of primarily Western/American or anonymous samples, which is the more usual case.

They.nl: Netherlands Web Design Showcase
Design Week Monterrey 2009: Mexico Web Design Showcase

The one I read most thoroughly, though, was the article on Designing for Long-Form Reading Experiences, since this is most relevant to my current work projects.

Its section on typography and white space featured the Boston Globe redesign — particularly a FontsInUse interview feature with the Boston Globe design team, regarding type choice.

And what a beautiful article it was.  I love discussions on type and design rationale.  You can see how the creators lovingly thought of specific elements before you actually see the sites come to life.   

2.  That article allowed me to see Fonts In Use.

I love this site.  Just last week I was saying in my head that I wanted a site that talked about font personality, that you could browse in terms of how the fonts were used for different things.  And, lo and behold….


Just clear, clear feature stories on how type was used in a range of industries and product formats. Yayyyyyy!

Their Web/Tablet format features led me to…

3.  Readmill

A handsome reading app, which emphasizes social elements, like shared favorite excerpts and knowing what books are being read by people you follow.  A better-looking GoodReads, if you will.

I love the look and font usage in their spare welcome and registration pages.

4.  Fonts In Use also featured the typography in The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s “ipad newspaper” venture.

This led me to their blog, which I actually find more interesting than the app itself (since, I am not an iPad owner anyway).

Carpoolers by Alejandro Cartagena (via The Daily blog)

5.  The Deck.  Which, for reasons beyond me, I can’t seem to find the source article that mentioned it even in my browser history.  I’m pretty sure I saw an article referring to how companies took great care to make beautiful magazine ads that you don’t have the urge to tear out, especially since it costs much money; but that on the web, they seem to forget the value of aesthetics and opt for garish, animated things to draw “eyeballs”.  I believe the article then mentioned this particular online ad agency that made tasteful, simple ads, which only took in clients for products or services they actually used, tried or believe in.  That takes balls.

The Deck ad for digital toy brand
The Deck ad for Field Notes Colors collection

6.  Design + Strategy’s 10 Laws to Design By article.  Also found through Smashing Magazine links.

I just find the lessons really helpful, also leading me to their other Design logic articles.

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