Posted in All Book Reviews, Non-fiction (Business and Other Stuff)

Book Review: 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

Posted in Being a writer

Insightful, but not Groundbreaking: A Review of Obviously Awesome by April Dunford

As a marketing professional (yep, that’s right; I don’t spend every day only reading and/or writing), I’ve had multiple opportunities to work on product positioning. It is, in fact, one of the things I like most about (and in) marketing. But, there is always something new to learn in any profession. Which is why I picked up April Dunford’s Obviously Awesome. It had some really good stuff and some that was not-so-good. Read on to know what to expect from this book.

Genre: 

Business, Marketing (Non-fiction)

Length: 

202 pages

Blurb:

April Dunford is a positioning expert who has successfully led the activity for numerous B2C and B2B companies. In Obviously Awesome, she talks about the need, details, and challenges of positioning. She also delves into a step-by-step process that she’s put together on how one can go about this activity.

Overall Rating:

6 out of 10

Writing Style:

8 out of 10, for its clarity of thought, and easy-to-follow flow and explanations.

Part of a Series: 

No.

Highlighted Takeaway:

There are a lot of tips, suggestions, and recommendations in Obviously Awesome. At the same time, you don’t necessarily have to use its teachings in a “take it all or take nothing” style. While a lot of the information was not new for me, I still found a few interesting points to be new (or differently approached). And the fact that it allows for anyone to do that, I felt, was the highlight of this book.

What I Liked:

April Dunford offers a structured, well-rounded approach not only to the activity of positioning, but also to the importance and need of it. This wasn’t the first time I’ve read about positioning, but I found it highly relatable to tech B2B products, which is something I’ve found missing in other content on the topic.

What I Didn’t Like:

A significant portion of the book (especially the first few chapters) is focused entirely on April Dunford talking about how awesome she is. I get it – no one will read your book on a specific topic unless you establish that your experience has equipped you to be a thought leader on it. But sharing this experience, at some point, turned into April Dunford just boasting about herself. It was quite a turn-off and takes some effort to push beyond it, until you get to the stuff that you can actually learn and apply.

Who Should Read It:

Any (tech) startup CEO working with a small team (whether pitching to investors or launching in the market, Obviously Awesome has some great tips and ideas on how to ensure that your product is best-placed), marketing professionals (digital, strategy, and content-focused; the book has tips that can help the entire function), and anyone who holds an integral position at a startup (positioning is, after all, a team effort).

Who Should Avoid:

Anyone looking for information on marketing for B2C products. It’s not that April Dunford’s tips won’t work, but it will take a lot of adapting. It would be better for someone interested in B2C positioning to turn to the works of another marketing expert, because April Dunford focuses almost exclusively on B2B.

Read It For:

A fresh understanding of positioning and how you can go about it (and why you should) if it’s a new concept to you, and a refresher (with some interesting tips) if you’re already in the marketing function.

This is one of the few business books I’ve started and actually finished. Possibly because it was lighter, less jargon-y, and shorter than those I’ve picked up before. (And because it focuses directly on one of the topics I like.) But if you’re hesitant to pick up Obviously Awesome because you’ve struggled to get through other business books, I will highlight that you probably won’t run into that problem. And if you’re attempting to broaden your interests and are looking at business books, this is an interesting one to start with.

Coming up next – a review of Beren and Lúthien by J.R.R. Tolkien.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading my review! 🙂

– Rishika