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Managing habits — trigger and action

Watch Alex Cowan talk about user habits and how they can help a product manager innovate new solutions that change the way users do things.
In this video, we’re going to talk about user habits. This is a really important concept for thinking about innovative new solutions that change the way users actually do things. Which is most meaningful products, to some degree. In the old scale friendly way of doing things, we had features and these features deliberate certain benefits
to our customer and we seem that we had this kind of perfectly rational, perfectly informed customer that if we were saving them $5.37 on their grocery purchase well of course they will go do that. And the Innovation friendly world, we more so kind of go where the customer is. And the reality is, we do not have perfectly informed, perfectly rational customers. A lot of what we do has an emotional bases and it has to do with habits and circumstances. And we discover that stuff like a designer, and we test it like a scientist, that’s what some of the methods you’ve been learning here.
And if you are familiar with the resurgence, I guess you would say, of behavioral economics where we look at not just the simple economics, microeconomics, but we pair that with neuroscience and psychology that this take on how users behaves is it kind of parallels that. And a very good tool for doing this that’s extremely practical Is Nir Eyal’s Hook Framework. Any designer can, any product manager can take this and sketch out a set of user habits in around 20 minutes. It has these four phases, four steps. The trigger something that makes us want to do something, take action. And what we’re looking for is this reward, which may be variable and that’s more stimulating.
And then over the course of using this product over and over again, we invest ourselves in it, so let’s step through these four steps.
The trigger could be internal or external. An internal trigger Is something that I internally have a sort of remembrance or a desire and an external trigger is something that comes to me externally and reminds me to do something. Take an action. With Facebook, an internal trigger would be our protagonist here feels bored and alone so they go and horse around on Facebook to gratify themselves. And the external version of that would be that they get an email or notice of some sorts that says your friends have posted a bunch of stuff go look at it or people been liking your photo go see how many people and who. These are example of triggers.
Take a minute and think about for your product that you’re working on right now. What is the trigger? What causes somebody to initiate their use of it?
Let’s look at enable quiz, what might be some some triggers for enable quiz. Well when it comes to task of, let’s say Helen’s already set up a quiz and she now is using it as she brings in a series of candidates to screen for an open position they have. An internal trigger would be Helen thinks I gotta a couple of candidates coming in this afternoon, let me make sure I have the quizzes ready. And she could also load for herself an external trigger in the meeting reminder that comes up from her Google calendar or whatever. She could set one up for herself, hey don’t forget to set up the quizzes.
That would be an example of an external trigger that Helen creates for herself.
Triggers lead to some kind of action. With Facebook, all we do is scroll and we get to see stuff. And when we put a photo on Facebook we mostly take a photo with our camera and we post it to Facebook. One interesting thing here is what happened to this activity, this action of posting photos, when mobile phones with cameras become prevalent? Well it lowered a lot, right. Because before the threshold of action was really high even to take photos with the digital camera, get over to you computer, hook it up, drag the photos out, post them to Facebook was massively more work than just snapping a photo and loading it on Facebook natively with your phone.
And that is really your job as a product manager is to think about for every major habit that you’re creating on the part of the customer, how do you continually lower that barrier of action and make it easy, less laborious for the customer? For the example we just looked with enable quiz where Helen’s prepping this quiz, what is the action that she takes? Well, she’s gotta make sure she logged into Enable Quiz, she has to have the right quiz up and then she has to have some kind of linkage of what candidate is administering what quiz to. She probably want to prompt that in advance.
Something that the product manager for enable quiz might want to consider as the assess the priority is this action is important and kind of a pain for her. Could they load the candidates names from some place else like Helen’s calendar or some external system that they have and its that a worthwhile investment on the product to lower that barrier of action. All right, we looked at the first half of this hook framework, we’ve introduced it great way to think about your product and the next video we’re going to look at the second half of the hook framework.

In this video, Alex discusses user habits. He introduces Nir Eyal’s Hook Framework, with the first two steps being Triggers and Actions. A trigger on Facebook may be a notification that a friend posted a photo. An action on your part may be scrolling through the posts and positing a photo of your own. Take a moment to think about what the trigger for your product (or a product you use) is. Specifically, what causes someone to use it?

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