[Book review] Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

I read the book about the way to make users change their habit. It was so interesting and practical for any startups so I'd like to write the book review and summary of it.

English title: Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Japanese title: Hooked ハマるしかけ 使われつづけるサービスを生み出す
I read the Japanese one.

About this book

Changing and making the habit of users is very important for all startups because they (I must say "we") are the team to create the new services and let users continue to use our services.

This book introduces the reasonable theory for it.

This book shows "REMEMBER AND SHARE" and "Do this now" at the end of each chapter and these make us easier to understand the summary. As the entire structure of this book, it shows theory and practice as well. So I can say this book has the structure that we can know why and how to change and make the habit of users. I strongly recommend it!

Executive summary

  • Habit is generated by the situation the action is encouraged by "enough frequency" and "perceived utility" together.
  • "Hook model" is the good way to generate the habit and it's composed of 4 steps such as 1. Trigger, 2. Action, 3 Rreward and 4 Investment.
So it's important to occur these 4 steps in our products.


Trigger is the first step to make the habit of users. A user experience equivalent to Trigger is necessary. Trigger is composed of an internal trigger and an external trigger and we need to put either or both.

External trigger

This is the trigger to attract users' eyes and to show the clear "intention". An important point is being obvious to anyone.

By shortening the time to think of the next action, we can increase the possibility to occur desired behaviors.
Which do you prefer to click?

This book shows 4 types of external triggers.

  • Paid trigger ... Ads, SEO and so on.
  • Earned trigger ... Shown in a featured application, a positive article in the media and so on.
  • Relationship trigger ... Buzz
  • Owned trigger ... User "things" of our product such as icon, email, notification from an application and so on.

Internal trigger

This is the trigger by synchronizing with users' thought, feeling and routine. Especially, a negative feeling can be an internal trigger. So important point is what kind of anxiety and dissatisfaction users have. The ideal situation is users open our application "naturally" in order that they relieve a little stress.

In order to understand the internal trigger, this "Do this now" at the end of this chapter is interesting.
Every time [(internal trigger)] happens to the user, he/she takes [(the first action of the intended custom)]


In the first step Trigger, we can clarify the next action to users. Unless users take the next action, this trigger is meaningless (or not optimum).
Behavior does not happen unless behavior is easier than thinking.
Also, this book introduces the essential 3 factors that people take an action.

  1. Have enough motivation (Why users need it?)
  2. Have enough ability to act (Be simple, remove all unnecessary tasks)
  3. Trigger to act exists
This book says "ability" more important than "motivation".

Here are the factors to make it simple. We always need to ask ourselves if there are any barriers in this list to use our product repeatedly.

  • Time ... How long it takes to complete
  • Money ... How much it costs to take an action
  • Pysical effort ... Required task volume
  • Brain cycle ... The degree of effort and concentration
  • Deviation from social norms ... How much it is accepted by others
  • Deviation from routine ... How much it matches with usual behaviors


The purpose of any business is to support the users to achieve the goals. In the 3rd step, we give the Reward to users by problem-solving and strengthen the motivation against the Action.

This book suggests 3 types of Action.
  • Tribe ... The Reward to show you are accepted, attractive and important.
  • Hunt ... Information or assets.
  • Self ... Personal satisfaction to make us feel we got the ability.

And the Reward needs to be not only the one to fulfill the users' needs but also the one to evoke the repeated use.


This is the last step of Hooked model and the most important step to make the habit.

It gives higher value to the product just because the user spends "effort" on the product. We need to give the recognition to users that products will become better as users use the product.

Then excellent products design the next trigger after investment.

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About Tomohide Kakeya

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