SaaS software platforms have had enormous success based on a fundamental principle: motivate users to keep coming back. Recurring usage leads to recurring revenue leads to crazy-high valuations.
In fact, most software attempts to motivate users in some way. But whether the goal is to lose weight, learn Spanish, save for retirement, or just get users to "check in" daily - long-term motivation is hard. You have to develop a habit in users that sticks.
B. J. Fogg, renowned User Experience Design thought leader and director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, has a model for behavioral change that has become the standard for software products that aim to motivate users. Fogg advocates that technology alone cannot “magically change behavior.” Companies developing software which aim to elicit a response from users must understand how human behavior works.
According to Fogg’s Behavior Model (FBM) there are three components that simultaneously affect behavior: Motivation, Ability, and Trigger:
According to Fogg, the best way to facilitate behavioral change is to “put hot triggers in the path of motivated people.” To assist in the design of technologies which look to affecting behavioral changes, Fogg developed the following systematic three step process:
For example, if someone ignores their goal (motivation) of taking their blood pressure reading every morning (given their ability – i.e. they have a blood pressure machine at home) a mobile application might to remind them to do so (trigger).
According to Fogg, persuasive technology uses seven strategies to influence behavior: reduction, tunneling, tailoring, suggestion, self-monitoring, surveillance, and conditioning.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. But it forms the basis for software products that actually can motivate users, if designed to these tenets.
Creativity is half the battle, but ensuring you have the right education, experience, and the right disciplines working together is the other half. Team up a product manager, a user experience designer, and lots of customer interviews. Train them in user research techniques like diary research and experience maps, as well as established motivational design patterns that effectively persuade and influence users, following a model like Fogg's.
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Creating Persuasive Technologies: An Eight-Step Design Process (Fogg, Stanford University)
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