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So you want to or need to develop a product people just can’t put down.

Short of developing a fiendish contraption that squirts sticky glue in their hands, you will need a good product idea, great implementation and maybe a book like this to dispense a bit of guidance.

Here the author sets out to show you how to develop and create habit forming, sticky, engaging products through the so-called “Hook Model” - a four-step process that subtly encourages and shapes customer behaviour. This is a short book that cuts to the chase. Eight chapters which define the “Habit Zone”, the trigger, action, reward and investment phases along with a look at how you may implement things and a case study and watching brief. Clearly this reviewer cannot test and implement the strategies (there are reviews to write) but the author certainly appears to have hit the nail on its head. In many things we are hooked or, as psychologists call it “automatic behaviours triggered by situational cues” (stuff we do without realising it).

The author notes that customers can be hooked without expensive marketing or advertising. You just need to engage, get traction and get people talking, sharing and using the product. It need not be viewed as unethical or somehow bad (after all, it is not selling heroin). Your world won’t end in a mass of pain and struggle if you really do put down your smartphone, stop taking a certain brand of coffee or change your habits or allegiances from product X to Y. Not all habits are intrinsically bad. It is a case of perspective. This is not a shortcut, instant just-add-water tool that will give you success and allow you to take over your market. You still have a lot of work to do but you will be better informed and able to take more conscious, focussed decisions. The book is written in an open, clear, humble style that does get you, err, hooked in reading it. In many ways it could still be great reading for the generalist who just loves to know stuff: allowing them to possible fight back against the corporate machine that is trying to get them to buy the latest shiny-shiny. A real clash of titans?

Looking at the psychology behind the Hook Model was also interesting even though it feels, once explained, to be fairly common sense. Once you start looking at other products and services with the Hook Model in mind you can see what they are doing. Yes, I’ve been hooked by some of the services named within the book. I started with the free version of Evernote and found its use compelling and valuable and paid for an extended service. Was I hooked by a free service? Yes, of course? It was not the only draw but a combination of a good product, a useful service and an extended period of use that underlined its essentialness and bang, handing over some money was natural. Does that make me a customer for life? Absolutely not, although as a happy customer I am less likely to be looking for alternative solutions and even if I stumble across one/am shown something that could be better, it might be harder to change.

The book features figures concerning Evernote and its customers who switched from a free to a paid service. In the first month only 0.5% had signed up. It might have felt a slow burn yet it acted like a rolling stone gathering moss. Within 33 months 11% of users had started paying, nine months further on this was at 26% and the figures continue to grow.

Hooked again?
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Since the bazaars in antiquity, marketing's objective has remained the same: create or increase demand for whatever is offered. What Nir Eyal offers in this book is a four-phase process by which to design habit-forming products that will attract and then sustain a tight relationship with customers.

1. A Trigger attracts consumer attention and creates initial interest such as the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee.

2. Consumer takes Action to learn more about what is offered, often by clicking on a website link or calling a toll-free number.

3. The Variable Reward offers several possibilities to attract as many different people as possible (e.g. a state lottery).

4. The last phase, Investment, illustrates that people who assemble furniture (e.g. IKEA) attach greater value to it than they would if it were already assembled.

As in residential real estate and the chestnut that suggests "for every house there's a buyer," I am convinced that, for those in need of forming and then sustaining tight customer relationships, "for every book there's a reader." Who knows? For some who read this review, the "Hook Model" may be exactly what they need.
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on 23 December 2014
This is a great read for anyone who either builds products, or for those who use them and are curious about how they are being brainwashed in the process.

I build / design products and I have gotten many excellent new ideas and improved understandings of concepts that i know will help me in my day job.

Well written and engaging to Joe Public and techies alike.
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on 17 September 2014
I bought this book after seeing it recommended in a blog. I've recently taken responsibility for an online tool that isn't being used as much as anticipated. Being new to the area of product management I was looking for some guidance in how to convert people who try the product once, to people who are regular active users. This book fitted the bill perfectly.

Written in a friendly manner it is an easy read that outlines the characteristics of the hook model, the features that can make a product truly habit forming. The model is backed up by many examples from some of today's leading online products - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc.

It has practical advice you can start acting on immediately. This has allowed me to identify exactly what areas I can work on to look to increase the number of regular active users for my product. Will I get more active users? Only time will tell. But if I don't I know it will be because the product just isn't what people want, and not down to bad advice from the book.
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on 28 February 2014
I loved this book. It brings together all the elements you need to make your products come alive and stay relevant and fresh in the eyes of consumers and users of your product.

Eyal uses the framework of Triggers, Actions, Variable Rewards and Investments to show how users are first made aware of their own need to use your product (their "itch"), then what you need to do in the way of actions to respond to those triggers, how you need to continually improve and change the rewards you give users in return for their use of your product and finally what and how users will invest their own time / energy / resources in order to get more from their own use.

This is a great reference, and I'll be going back to this for years to come.
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on 22 March 2015
This is a good book about how to make your game more long lived however, I would exercise a note of caution in this regard as some of the techniques discussed border on trying to turn your audience into what amounts to junkies for your game. Constantly plowing their spare time and money into it and always looking for their next play session.

Some ideas in here are great for enhancing replay but, I would draw the line at using the techniques to effectively bleed your audience dry of their cash especially if your audience consists of young children and teens.
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on 20 February 2016
This is a great read, even thought i don't in tend to build my own app or social media site, it was still interesting how the system works. Easy to read and understand. I don't read much however found myself reading it a every opportunity.
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on 23 September 2014
Great book. In today's digital world it's increasingly difficult to understand how to develop successful products and the key drivers to doing it. Hooked, is the answer with a very practical and simple guide that any product manager or innovator can apply whether B2C or B2B. year also provides you with the science behind the method, which combined with a well laid out logical order to the book, makes it indespensible and likely to be a well thumbed point of reference.
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on 18 January 2016
Got recommended this book by several people from events I've attended and it didn't disappoint. After recently co-founding a tech start up with almost zero business experience, this book gave a deep but accessible insight into how your product needs to be designed in order to be something people will want to use regularly. This has had a direct influence on the way we've developed our own product. A must read for anyone who has created or is thinking about creating their own product.
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on 17 February 2016
A very quick read, most of it is going through a single model of the process by which people get 'hooked' to experiences. I like the exercises at the end of each chapter, even if you don't actually do them I think they are good questions for reflection.
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