At Talented Recruiting, we look for product designers. We care about products and we recruit the designers and product managers who care about sticky products. So Hooked is a book about a subject that probably won’t surprise you - getting hooked on products. Author Nir Eyal is the author of the blog Nir And Far, and an educator and entrepreneur who writes on the intersections of psychology and technology with business.

While of course we suggest you read the book, here is the quickly digestible version:

Nir creates a Hook Model, four steps that companies use to encourage customer dependence and use of a product. Through consecutive cycles, the products bring users back multiple times without aggressive advertising and messaging. In the book, he tells readers how to create habits we’ll stick with - helping us personally and professionally, even if we don’t have a concept for a genius business idea in the back of our brains.

Essentially, to engage and keep a user of your product, you have to understand their motivators - is it pleasure or pain, safety or fear, acceptability or loneliness, or something else? Identify that and you can understand their triggers, replicating them in the product. The motivator is an internal trigger, replicated as an external trigger. Then what is the simplest behavior one can do to anticipate a reward, and does it fulfill them just enough but leave them wanting more? Then comes the investment - the work they put in for the reward to continue.

The best understanding of this concept will come from your own experience - watching yourself and your companions, how they interact with their environments and how they form or replace their habits. The best example for me personally is the fidget cube. The bane of existence for many teachers, I’ve had to ban them from everywhere but my children’s bedrooms, but in my situation, they save my day. I have ADHD and when I’m stressed, I have to have something in my hands. A fidget cube keeps me from reaching for something unhealthy like snacks or cigarettes, or something annoying to my officemates, like a noisy pen to click or drumming my fingers on the desk. My motivator is the stress, the external trigger is whatever the stressor is for the moment, while the behavior is playing with something in my hands. My reward is the satisfaction of the clicks and other repetitive sensations that lower my stress and keep me focused - which is where the investment comes in. I will continue clicking and rolling and flicking if it means my stress level stays low. I stay at my desk and get my work done, and I stay calm and focused.

This is an extremely useful concept for product managers who want to develop the sticky products that people keep coming back for, but it’s useful in life too. How do we replace bad habits and how do we develop good ones? While the book benefits designers, consider it self-help too!