If you’re a Product Creator in any capacity, the way you build your product will dictate the level of success you'll achieve. Like me, you’ve seen products and apps come and go. Some disappear as quickly as they arrive, and some (like Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, et al) have achieved incredible success.
But, why is it that people get hooked on some products while others don't even make a ripple in the pond?
If you’re creating a product for the internet to consume, there’s no better book to read than Nir Eyal’s “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.” In fact, everyone on the Hotjar team has read it as it’s part of our onboarding process for new team members. While I wholeheartedly recommend that you pick it up and read it, the book can be quickly summarized in what Eyal calls “The Hooked Model”:
What do users really want? What pain is your product relieving? (Internal trigger)
What brings users to your service? (External trigger)
What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action)
Are users fulfilled by the reward, yet left wanting more? (Variable reward)
What “bit of work” do users invest in your product? Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)
Notice what every question revolves around?
If you're building or scaling a product, the best place to start is with your users. You need to build with them in mind and every change or iteration you make needs to be looked at through the lens of user experience.
When you think and make decisions with a user-centric mindset not only is it good design, it’s good for business too. Because, if you can create a habit-forming product - you win.
...you’ll eventually discover that all habits aren't created equal.
Sometimes a habit is a good thing (e.g. working out, eating healthy, reading), but when things move from habit to addiction, it’s time to start asking yourself what exactly it is that you’re doing or building?
Is it right? Is it moral? Is it helpful?
Hotjar’s vision is to change the way people design, build, and interact with their users. We believe that Hotjar is a good thing for everyone who uses it which is why we use it ourselves.
To help you think through these things as you build, grow, and scale your product, you need to know what kind of creator you are (or want to become). To help you do that, look at what Eyal calls the Manipulation Matrix:
Facilitator: This is a product creator who eats their own dogfood (figuratively of course). They built something that makes the user's life easier, and wouldn’t you know it - the creators also use it themselves.
Peddler: Peddlers push or create something new, but when asked “Would I actually find this useful?” the answer is a resounding no. It may be helping their users but in the end, will likely fail because the product creators themselves are lacking “...the empathy and insights needed to create something users truly want." This is why everything we do at Hotjar is backed by user insight and most of all - empathy. We want to feel, understand, and walk a mile in our user’s shoes before we design, build, or write anything.
Entertainer: Entertainers just want to make something fun, but not useful or meaningful. Think about games like Angry Birds or Farmville - lots of time spent entertaining with zero value or usefulness at the end of the day. If you want to create games, that’s great! We love games! Who doesn't? But if you want to “change the world,” and solve real problems, being an Entertainer might not be the way to do it.
Dealer: This is as bad as it sounds. Like me, you may have thought of Walter White when you saw this category. This is the type of person who creates something just to make money. Profit is the one and only goal. It’s not useful and the creator wouldn't use it if you paid them to. Think of things like casinos and meth - not the type of stuff you want to get addicted to or form a habit around.
So, what does it all mean?
It means that you want to be incredibly attentive to how and why you're building what you're building. The Hotjar team has internalized Eyal’s Hooked Model and Manipulation Matrix because they help remind us that we should constantly be doing what’s best for our users.
Every change, feature, upgrade, piece of content, and new hire centers around growing a helpful product that people enjoy using.
If you’re even thinking about building an app, SaaS product, website, or a game (or if you already launched and are assessing what you built) - grab the book and read it with your team. Think through it, take notes, whiteboard, brainstorm, and ask the tough questions.
Because we don’t need more Dealers...
...we need more Facilitators.
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I'm a full-stack marketer & creative copywriter @ Hotjar. Besides being a part of the Hotjar team, I'm also a lover of leather bound books, an IPA snob, and a strong advocate of the infamous and glorious Oxford Comma.