How to design Actions to produce the desired engagement?

Product design

After knowing about the Habit and the first step of the Hook model Trigger, the next step is the Action in the book Hooked by Nir Eyal.

As we now know, a trigger (driven by internal or external cues) tells users what to do next; but if a user doesn’t take any action, the trigger is useless.

A habit is a behavior formed with some conscious thoughts. If more efforts (either physical or mental) are required to perform an action, there will be fewer chances to get that action occurred. So to initiate an action, doing must be easier than thinking.

There are three ingredients required to initiate any behavior.
1. A user must have sufficient motivation.
2. A user must have the ability to complete the desired action.
3. A trigger must be present to activate the behavior.

That means a given behavior will occur when motivation, ability, and a trigger are present at the same time and in sufficient degrees. Here, we already know what are triggers. So now let’s dig into the motivation and ability.


While a trigger cues an action, motivation defines the level of desire to take that action. People are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek hope and avoid fear, and to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection.

You can find motivation examples in the advertising. For e.g. Barak Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign strongly presented an inspiring message and image during the time of economic disruption.

An another e.g. most of you have heard an old saying “Sex sells”. Many of you have seen half-clothed bodies (mostly female) in a lot of advertisements. From fashion and clothes brands like Victoria’s secret to food chain brands like Burger King, they all have presented their ads with half-clothed female bodies because that captures attention and motivate to perform the desired action.

Burger King Ads

Burger King Ads


Any technology or product that reduces the steps to complete a task can achieve higher adoption rates.

Easier equals better.

In the book “Something Really New: Three Simple Steps to Creating Truly Innovative Products”, author Denis J. Hauptly has said that first understand the reason people use a product or service. Next, define the steps a customer must take to get the job done. And last, once the series of tasks from intention to the outcome is clear, start removing the steps until you reach to the simplest possible process.

Let’s look at a real example of blogging. Before the 1990s, to create a blog was like; buy a domain, purchase a web host, set up a content management system, etc. But then, blogging platform Blogger came and it changed the way people were used to setting up a blog. It eliminated almost all the steps to create a blog. It is now, you just register your account to the Blogger and start posting your content. That simple!

Blogger - A blogging platform

If you want to simplify a product, you have to remove obstacles that stand in the user’s way. Ability is the capacity to do a particular behavior. Identify what the user is missing. What is making it difficult for the user to accomplish the desired action?

Focus on simplicity.

You can see, how “Signing with Facebook” and other social platforms like Google and Twitter has made the user registration simple and easy. Before, users were used to fill-up the whole registration form, and then validate your email. Nowadays, sign in or registration to the websites or apps using Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc has become so easier as filling up forms process has almost been eliminated.

Social sign-in/register on Medium

Social sign-in/register on Medium (

The same way, sharing links to the social websites has become so easier by sharing buttons. Another example is, the way we access the camera from the smartphones. Some made it easier by just swiping the lock screen, some made it easier by pressing the power button twice rather than making users to unlock the phone and tap on the Camera app icon.

Social sharing

Social sharing example

Make your product so simple that users already know how to use it, and you’ve got a winner. You can say that the simplicity increases the ability.

Remember and share

– An action is the second step in the Hook model.
– The action is the simplest behavior in anticipation of reward.

Answer these…

Refer to the answers you came up with in the “Do This Now” section of Habit and Trigger to complete the following exercises:

  1. Walk through the path your users would take to use your product or service, beginning from the time they feel their internal trigger to the point where they receive their expected outcome. How many steps does it take before users obtain the reward they came for? How does it compare with competing products and services?
  2. Which resources are limiting your users’ ability to accomplish the tasks that will become habits?
    – Time
    – Brain cycles (too confusing)
    – Money
    – Social deviance (outside the norm)
    – Physical effort
    – Non-routine (too new)
  3. Brainstorm three testable ways to make intended tasks easier to complete.
  4. Consider how you might apply heuristics to make habit-forming actions more likely.

For the detailed examples and better understanding, read the book, Hooked by Nir Eyal.

You can read about Habits and Triggers by accessing the below links.
– Habits and products – A strong relationship
– How do triggers help to form the habit-forming products?

You can buy Hooked from below links.

  1. Amazon
  2. Flipkart

Or you can get it from digital bookstores like Google Play Books, Amazon Kindle version, etc.

If you think this article is useful, please share it on your social profiles to help others find it and leave a comment. Thank you!

Gautam Lakum
Intrapreneur. Project coordinator at Multidots. Have experience of working on 7 web & mobile app products. Love traveling, sports, gadgets & photography.
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