January 4, 2015

Do your products inculcate helpful habits?

By Paul Laughlin

Thanks to Jeffrey Slater of Nomacorc for sharing this great YouTube video of Nir Eyal from Stanford University presenting at The Next Web 2014 conference in USA.

It is a brilliant exploration of how design can exploit behavioural psychology to the benefit of consumers (the users of products designed to promote habits that are better for their users).

Right from the start, the definition of habit as “a behaviour done with little or no conscious thought”, is clearly aligned to Kahnemann’s System 1.

Principles in this video like the ‘hook‘ (an experience designed to connect a user’s problem with your solution with sufficient frequency to become a habit), all behaviours needing motivation + ability + trigger, the brain’s reward for anticipation (especially of the unknown) – these should all be trained as design principles for product marketers.

But they are also relevant to Customer Insight work. Understanding what psychology can teach us about how our customers are actually experiencing our products is a Customer Insight priority.

See what you think – this lecture is well worth watching through:

Hope you found that insightful. The chief reason why I believe this is worth sharing is the final section on the morality of manipulation.

As our understanding of consumer psychology and behaviour is increasing, as well as our ability as customer insight professionals to communicate these in a way that our business can act on them, we must face the question posed: “What responsibility do we have when changing user behaviour?” 

Do you know your customer’s itches? Are you designing your variable rewards to scratch those itches & so establish habits (even where it is not just a logical product extension)?

Have you tested using variable rather than predictable rewards? Are you designing digital products for your customers that will get better for them the more they use it (like Twitter, Evernote etc)?