Dry, but Interesting in Parts: A Review of Hooked by Nir Eyal

It’s the age of technology addiction. Some apps have you logging in three-four times a day even months and years after you’ve been using them, and some fail in their attempts to keep users coming back, even if they seemed really fun at first. In Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, Nir Eyal – consultant, author, investor, and expert in user experience and behavioral economics (among a few other things) – explains why there may be such a difference in why some products get their users addicted and others don’t.

A really interesting topic with great potential. But does Hooked keep you hooked page after page? (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself on that pun!) Read on to know.

Genre: 

Non-fiction, Business, Psychology,

Length: 

256 pages

Blurb:

Nir Eyal delves into why some products become more addictive for their users versus others, and how this can be explained by the Hook Model – a four-step process that market leading products use to influence user behavior. It also goes on to show how you can replicate the steps in this model, and what psychological influences you need to consider when thinking about building a product that gets users “hooked”. Hooked also touches upon the ethics that should be a part of creating addictive technology, and what responsibility lies on the creators attempting to influence the behavior of millions of app users.

Overall Rating:

6 out of 10

Plot:

7 out of 10 for its teachings

Writing Style:

5 out of 10

Part of a Series:

No. 

Highlighted Takeaway:

Impactful and applicable points, but presented in dry, jargon-filled prose.

What I Liked:

The chapter that touched upon the ethics involved in the creation of addictive technology was really interesting. The Hook Model itself is useful and thought-provoking.

What I Didn’t Like:

The main case study fell really flat for me – it seemed forced, like the app in question wasn’t making the points another one could have probably made, and like it was trying really hard to talk the app up. Also, the book does seem a bit dry and relies on too much jargon, instead of getting its point across in a simple, clear manner.

Who Should Read It:

App developers and product managers would find this most useful, but it would also provide good insight to people working with customer experience, retention and engagement, and product analytics.

Who Should Avoid:

Hooked is hyper targeted to the B2C tech product industry. While people working with B2B tech products can also glean some interesting stuff from the book, it doesn’t have anything for readers uninterested or uninvolved with these two segments.

Read It For:

A few interesting takeaways that offer a refreshed outlook on user engagement for products you work with (or are creating / want to create), and you own behavior with apps.

It’s hard for me to say if I’ll read more of Nir Eyal’s work, even though he is one of the leading writers on user experience and behavioral psychology in tech. On the one hand, I found some of the information to be quite useful, but on the other I did find his style cumbersome to read. I guess it would really depend on how much of the information ends up being applicable in the next few weeks and months. So… I guess we’ll have to wait and watch.

Coming up next – a review of Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay.

Share your thoughts (on anything and everything) in the comments below. And as always, thanks for stopping by to read my review!

– Rishika

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