Entrepreneurs dream of making it big.  They have big ideas, big plans for taking over or creating their own niche in the world; some of them make it and some do not.  Nir Ayal has taken a look into human behavior to find out why some technology products are more successful than others.  I had the opportunity to hear him speak about his new book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products” at the most recent ZURB Soapbox.

Nir reaffirmed my belief that technology will change the future but he did it with valuable insight into habits.  Having worked as a project manager with countless technology tool implementations, I understand resistance to change and have wondered, as he has, “Why aren’t users doing the thing I want them to?”  Nir’s answer is based in habits.  He gave several examples and from a skim of his book it appears to be full of more.

I will mention one example here.  Google vs Bing.  He said that in blind tests people cannot tell the difference between search results from Google and Bing.  Yet, even though the results are the same, a quick showing of hands in the room indicated we had all formed the habit of searching via Google.   Not only is Google now a verb, it is a habit.  Part of what makes habits so interesting is that humans are creatures of habit.  We find a successful pattern and repeat.

In the world of marketing, finding the right consumer-oriented message that creates revenue-generating repeat behavior is the ultimate objective.  Marketers strive to change human behavior and the most successful changes are ones associated with habits (although with the negative connotation of the word habit this is usually termed something else like repeat purchasing).  For those out there afraid of being marketed into habits they don’t desire, there is good news: any habit can change and any bad habit can be replaced with a good habit and any good habit can be replaced by a better habit.  I look forward to experiencing habit forming technologies that make life easier; I’m hooked on technology.

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