Product Hunt

Product Hunt’s implementation of the Hook Model

Product Hunt is one of those places on the beautiful World Wide Web that I visit almost everyday and believe that thousands if not millions of others do it as well. It’s just fascinating to see all the awesome products that are being created by people from all around the world with just one aim — Making the World a Better Place (Silicon Valley fans unite!).

But what makes it one of the most engaging places on the internet? Why do some people begin the day by sipping their favorite coffee while browsing Product Hunt? Why did Elon Musk name his baby X Æ A-12? (I don’t how this made it to the article.)

And the answer is: The Hook Model. For those of you who are not aware, let’s quickly glance through what the model is all about before jumping into how Product Hunt uses it.

The Hook Model

The model comes from the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal which talks about things like — why do some products capture widespread attention while others flop and what makes us engage with certain products out of sheer habit.

Product Hunt - Hooked

Basic crux of the model is that to create habit-forming products, you must move the user through a loop that over time helps them develop the habit of returning and using that product. This loop consists of four components –

1. Trigger

A trigger is an external call to action or an internal need that prompts the user to take an action. An example of an external trigger is a notification, while an internal trigger could include emotions like fear of missing out.

2. Action

An action is the simplest behavior in anticipation of reward. For any human behavior to happen, three things need to converge at the same time — We need sufficient motivation, We need sufficient ability to complete the action, We need to be triggered.

3. Variable reward

Is the reward that someone gets after completing an action fulfilling, yet leaves them wanting more? Variable rewards create a dopamine ruckus we can’t resist.

4. Investment

An investment is something that creates stored value that we’ve invested in the product. When users invest time, money or effort into your product, they have a stronger reason to keep using it.

Product hunt - The Hook image

Enough of this theory dude, show me the implementation already 🙄. Alright, let’s just jump straight into how Product Hunt has implemented this model to create a habit forming product which ultimately leads to more user engagement.

Product Hunt & the Hook Model

Let us begin by breaking down each component in the hook and seeing Product Hunt’s execution of it:

Trigger 💡

The loop begins by an external trigger in the form of daily emails. Once you sign up on the website, you start getting a daily email from Product Hunt that says something like — ‘Hey! here is the latest and greatest products and technologies that you might be interested in. Have a look!’

Product Hunt trigger

Each new email tells you a short story about the product and its creator in an engaging way and invites you to check that specific product. This is how your curiosity gets triggered!

Action 🎯

The action that someone is capable of performing is to click on that product link in the email to find out what’s in store for them. Some form of motivation has to be present here for the user to perform the action otherwise they will end up ignoring the email just like people ignore the fact that HTML is not a programming language.

The thing that motivates the users here is that this new product/app can prove to be really helpful for them and maybe increase their productivity or improve their current workflow. So they decide to check that out.

Variable Reward 🎁

Now the variable reward is this uncertainty about what is this new product all about? Once you are on the site you start to browse through all the products that have been launched on that specific day and try to find something that might prove to be useful for you..

Product Hunt - Variable Reward

Clicking on each product takes you to a detailed description screen about it and also shows your recommended products that are similar to it. Here you can also interact with the founders of the product and the community members that support it.

Investment 🕒

The more time you spend with the community by interacting with creators and sharing your thoughts about a particular product, the much stronger will be the reason for you to come back to the website. You can also create a collection of products that you really like. All of these things and features store value and load the next trigger.

Product Hunt - Investment

And the Hook a.k.a the loop kicks-off

Now the next thing that prompts you to come back and be a daily active user of Product Hunt will NOT be an external trigger (daily email) anymore. It will be replaced by an internal trigger — a need to explore new products that have been created by people from all around the world and that can help you in several ways. This time it would say something like — ‘Hey! Your favorite creators have created something new. Go check that out!’ And it starts all over again!

Next article: Using Social Proof to build better user experiences