Nir Eyal - "The Automatic Customer: How to Design User Behavior"


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In an age of increasing online distractions, companies need to form habits to stay relevant in users’ lives. Nir Eyal discusses the latest in Behavior Engineering to explain how businesses create indispensable products. Nir will walk through his innovative framework, which he calls the “Desire Engine” to explain the fundamental elements of habit formation.

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  • Specifically, I was fascinated by the WTF? businesses. Those who were ridiculed at first as a toy, then they got massive. Can anyone name some? FB, Twitter, Zynga, Instagram, Groupon What made them unique?
  • This preso is a compilation of patterns I found which remerged time in again in products that seemed to create habits in users What I found in common was...
  • Stopped and asked myself an often asked customer dev question. Were these companies selling vitamins or painkillers? We’re told by lean methodology to make painkillers, right?
  • Great for lean methodologies And much, much better than old way of building things in a vacuum Can certainly build great businesses of of these type of products Especially when: - Technological disruption occurs to bring down price Products that alleviate pain, easy to sell - painkillers
  • Products that make us feel better about ourselves, but we don’t really need - vitamins
  • Who thinks vitamins? Why? Who thinks painkillers? Why?
  • It’s true that it’s better to sell painkillers, but these companies created compulsions out of something that started as fun. These companies mastered the process of creating habits by moving us from pleasure seeking to pain avoidance. This is how all habits ultimately end up. Creating habits is a super power we need to use wisely. We’re moving into a new age where our everything is becoming more addictive.
  • Phones and technology have us addicted, and we don’t know the full consequenses yet. So this presentation is about bringing awareness to the mechanisms that create habit forming technology ..
  • As well as inspire you to build better things. These design patterns can be used for good, and it’s time we use habit design to improve peoples lives.
  • Desire engines - the desire engine is four steps that when done again and again, create habits. But what is a habit? Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsc iously. But ha bits must be triggered. For the purposes of a business, the goal is to get the user to self-trigger a desire for the product. Therefore, the desire engine, when used in succession, creates internal trigger which causes a person to act automatically, creating a habit.
  • Moves users from external triggers to internal triggers
  • the spark plug of the engine. They are also known as cues who can name a trigger in your life?
  • Internal responses are self-triggered where external are through some form of intentional messaging. As you can imagine, external triggers are expensive and companies would much prefer you trigger yourself so they don’t have to do it for you.
  • Fundamental to a habit is when doing is easier than thinking, and here’s how to engineer that
  • Land of: Motivation = Marketing - discovering what user really wants Ability and triggers = good user interface design, if you make something easier to do, they do it more often
  • Cross function teams! Land of: Motivation = Marketing - discovering what user really wants Ability and triggers = good user interface design, if you make something easier to do, they do it more often
  • Behavior gold-mine. Once you start looking for variable rewards you’ll see them everywhere in things we think of as habit forming
  • Makes out dopamine system go nuts, creating intense cravings for understanding to bring order where there is none Think of our primative brains which stopped evolving 200K years ago. Everything we don’t control we seek to understand
  • All variable rewards are about the search, The dopamine system is all about searching and never finding. Anticipation, wanting Caveman story? Combining together can make more powerful
  • These things are about the joy of playing with ones self Kids from birth want to touch things, understand the sensation generated by things How does something feel, taste, sound, look, smell, that is novel and interesting This is sensory - play for the sake of sensation, it feels good, it also is why drugs feel good Mastery - need to feel we are more powerful than something - need to dominate, need to complete something (like a checklist) - points, targets Consistency - moral onbligations or need to prove that we are what we think we are. This is also the need for accomplishing goals, need for self-actualization - levels, challenges “ Self Determination Theory” Competence  Seek to control the outcome and experience mastery [14] Relatedness  Is the universal want to interact, be connected to, and experience caring for others [9] Aut onomy Is the universal urge to be causal agents of one's own life and act in harmony with one's integrated self; however, Deci and Vansteenkiste [13] no te t his does not mean to be independent of others
  • ... and personal data lets companies adjust these in real time. For the first time, through so-called “big data” analysis, companies are able to understand each user’s particular rewards schedule. If the user is becoming less engaged, these games can juice up the frequency or magnitude of the rewards to keep the user playing. Toying with users’ individual rewards schedule on a massive scale was impossible just a few years ago. Today it is commonplace because it
  • This is where the behavior designer asks for some “work” from the user. The brain is fully washed with dopamine and ready for more so the user is asked to “pay”
  • Palo Alto residents shown a picture of a gigantic sign that would read “drive carefully” in front of house, Nearly cover up the front of house. Asked if they’d agree to post it on lawn. Group 2 was ASKED if they could display a 3 INCH sign 2 weeks before. It was so small that almost all had said yes.
  • The more core the VR is, the more potentially habit forming*Make sure to use in on-boarding
  • now playing to avoid pain, so sell us the painkiller
  • 5 - Call and response (not Q&A) – stay super open to the crowd answering questions for themselves, always answer each question with (what do you all think?)
  • Invented right here in SF by Charles Fey 90% of people attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Las Vegas played only machines. $1 billion per day is wagered on them, $35 billion in revenue Mostly about The Hunt - opportunity to win resources, money
  • Invented right here in SF by Charles Fey 90% of people attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings in Las Vegas played only machines. $1 billion per day is wagered on them, $35 billion in revenue Mostly about The Hunt - opportunity to win resources, money
  • Tribe - acceptance, influence Hunt - information Self - mastery - need it to be done + sensory humor,
  • Moves users from external triggers to internal triggers
  • if challenge is too low, it’s boring Flow requires challenge
  • Nir Eyal - "The Automatic Customer: How to Design User Behavior"

    1. 1. Behavior Engineering Gamification Summit June 21, 2012 Nir Eyal @nireyal
    2. 2. “WTF? businesses”
    3. 3. Patterns
    4. 4. Vitamins or painkillers?
    5. 5. Selling painkillers - Obvious need - stop pain - Quantifiable market - Monetizable
    6. 6. Selling vitamins - Emotional need, not efficacy - “Makes me feel good knowing...” - Unknown market
    7. 7. Vitamins or painkillers?
    8. 8. Habit when not doingcauses pain.
    9. 9. Habit-forming technologyPleasure Painseeking alleviationVitamin Painkiller
    10. 10. "The Cigarette of this Century" - Ian Bogost
    11. 11. "We wanted flying cars, insteadwe got 140 characters." - Peter Thiel
    12. 12. How engineerautomaticity?
    13. 13. Desire engines create habits
    14. 14. The Desire EngineTrigger Action External InternalCommitment Var. Reward
    15. 15. Triggerexamples?
    16. 16. Trigger Examples External Internal Alarms Emotions Advertising RoutinesCalls-to-action Situations Emails Places Stores People
    17. 17. Negative emotions provide internal triggers Dissatisfied Boredom Indecisive Lonesome Lost Fear Tense Confusion Fatigued Powerlessness Inferior Discouraged
    18. 18. Action
    19. 19. whendoing < thinking = action
    20. 20. Fogg Behavior Model B = m.a.t.motivation triggers ability
    21. 21. Behaviors to Actions with Cross-Functional Teams= marketingmotivation triggers = interaction design ability = product
    22. 22. Variable Reward
    23. 23. We crave predictability• Variable rewards drive us nuts• Compulsion to make sense of cause and effect• Dopamine system drives the search
    24. 24. The search for rewards the Tribe the the Hunt Self
    25. 25. Search for Social Rewards - Acceptance the - SexTribe - Power
    26. 26. Search for Resources - Food the - Money Hunt - Information
    27. 27. Search for Sensation - Mastery the - Consistency Self - Competency - Purpose
    28. 28. Var Rewards Levers• Type• Frequency• Amplitude
    29. 29. Commitment
    30. 30. Commitment • Where user does a bit of “work.” • “Pays” with something of value: time, money, social capital, effort, data ...
    31. 31. Little commitments, big results Group 1: 83% refused Group 2: 76% acceptedFreedman & Fraser, 1966
    32. 32. The logic of commitment • Should I ‘spend’ (time, money, effort ...) on this? • Only an idiot would ‘spend’ on something not good. • Since I spent on it before and I am not an idiot, it must be good. • Takeaway: Consistency is a cognitive hackProps to Jesse Schell
    33. 33. Commitments make the next action more likely.
    34. 34. Desire Engine CanvasTrigger ActionCommitment Var. Reward
    35. 35. How to use a Desire Engine1. Think of what the INTERNAL TRIGGER will be. What’s the existing habit you’re attaching to?2. Confirm the EXTERNAL TRIGGER touches the user near the existing habit. Ensure user understands “what it’s for?”3. Prompt the intended ACTION - Make sure it’s very simple and defined. Ex - We want user to scroll4. Add VARIABLE REWARDS - Mix the type (hunt, tribe, self), change frequency, and amplitude.5. Ask for the COMMITMENT - Does it increase the likelihood of next cycle?
    36. 36. Use this for good.
    37. 37. Examples if Time
    38. 38. Twitter (Consumer)T A Facebook, friend, email ... ScrollC VR Information Follow (Hunt)
    39. 39. Twitter (Creator)T A App icon, mention, message Re-Tweet or Boredom, curiosity, Tweet LonesomeC VR Connect with Social feedback others: (Tribe) @ reply, DM ...
    40. 40. Email T AIcon on phone Open unreadProcrastinate, anxiety, messagesthoughts of others.... C VR Tribe, hunt and Write back self
    41. 41. Farmville T A Facebook feed, email ... PlayBoredom, lonesome,loss aversion = anxiety C VR • Build farm • Points (hunt) • Invite others • Personalized • Pay $ virtual goods (self)
    42. 42. Spectator sports T AEverywhere WatchBoredom, anxiety ... C VR Identify self as fan Outcome (Self) Buy stuff Fandom - belonging (Tribe) Attend events Capturing the win (Hunt)
    43. 43. Shopping T AEverywhere BrowsePowerlessness,dissatisfaction, anxiety ... C VR Buy Hunting the object (Hunt) Brand self Shopping with friends (Tribe) Anchor price Capturing the deal (Self)
    44. 44. Please raise your phone in the air.
    45. 45. Leave Feedback, Win a Prize! (slides at end of survey)
    46. 46. Tribe, Hunt, or Self?
    47. 47. Tribe, Hunt, or Self?
    48. 48. Tribe, Hunt, or Self?
    49. 49. • Searching, searching and never done
    50. 50. The MDA Gaming Model Mechanics: The Rules and ActionsTrigger Action Aesthetics: Emotional Dynamics: Response Generated Response Based on User Input Commitment Var. Reward
    51. 51. Habit Testing Identify Find habitual users Modify CodifyAdapt user flow Understand based on commonalities learnings (Habit Path)
    52. 52. Products must adapt