How to trigger users to act
We are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain
At the start of the Covid pandemic, my older daughter, Claudia, came to live back in her childhood home. To say Claudia loves being outside is an understatement so we went for a good walk every day. I enjoyed exploring the local area and, over time, acquired good walking gear. Claudia provided the trigger I needed to get into the walking habit. A bit like Forrest Gump, I started and just kept going. In 3 years, I have walked 8,000 miles.
The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action. - Alexander Graham Bell
For a Behaviour to occur, three factors must be present in sufficient levels: Motivation, Ability and a Trigger. This behavioural model can be abbreviated as: B=MAT.
Motivation is the desire to act. It has three components relating a potential behaviour. First, sensations of immediate rewards or punishments. Eating a cake is pleasurable in the moment while exercising can be painful. Second, anticipation of the long term rewards or punishments. Exercise tones muscles while fast food causes long term health problems. Third, belonging relating to social rewards or punishments. Attending a gym makes us part of a community, whereas staying at home can make us feel isolated.
A user’s motivation will be high if we’ve made something which meets an important unmet need. Good Problems for Our Apps to Address includes ones which cause people pain (consumes much time or resources), needs a quick resolution and occurs frequently.
A user’s ability relates to the ease or difficulty of taking action. There are three aspects relating a potential behaviour. First, skill relating to our knowledge and expertise, e.g. to ride a bike. Second, cost of resources or time required, e.g. relating to attending a gym. Third, potential frustration relating to the difficulty of undertaking a behavior, e.g. learning to play guitar.
Ability is high if we make action easy and Help Users See Value Quickly. Ways to do this include: focus on key tasks, have an intuitive design with intelligent defaults, feedback user progress and provide contextual help. Overall, Help Users Do Things and feel good about themselves.
A prompt triggers users to take action. Triggers come in two forms: external and internal. External triggers are those in our environment. We see trainers by the front door which prompts us to wear them and going for a run. We may get a notification on our mobile renew our gym membership. Internal triggers are thoughts or feelings which act as reminders. We may remember how good we feel after exercise or guilty when we failed to.
A good external trigger signals what the user should do, e.g. YouTube’s icon includes a play button. 4 Icon Design Tips can help. Once the product has been used, internal triggers, based on psychological prompts, can establish and strengthen. What to do next is now informed through an association, including emotions, places, people, situations and routines.
Behavior Model website
Less is More in App Design post by Phil Martin
Hooking Users post by Phil Martin
Everyday I go for a walk is an adventure. I may discover a new path, have swan fly towards me for food, hear a fox barking, see bats flying out of a mine or chat with strangers. Thank you, Claudia.