The Irrational User

Alvin Hsia breaks down some of the most popular cognitive biases and how they can play into product development:

Cognitive biases arise when a mental shortcut generates an incomplete or inaccurate judgement.

He references Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, which I would highly recommend. Things like loss aversion and negativity bias (he covers both)are important to think about in terms of user experience.

Pairs well with an old post I wrote: How to use science to make better decisions

Hierarchy of Engagement

I recently came across a presentation from Sarah Tavel at Greylock Partners titled The Hierarchy of Engagement. It’s a talk she gave at the Habit Summit. The purpose of the hierarchy is simple:

As companies move up the hierarchy, their products become better, harder to leave, and ultimately create virtuous loops that make the product self-perpetuating.

A photo of the hierarchy of engagement

She provides a great breakdown of each step. I found it very interesting to read and then think about the products we’re building at Automattic.

In particular, I’m thinking more and more about step 2—retaining users. Sarah lays out two elements key to getting users to stick around:

  1. Accruing benefits – The more you use the product, the better it gets.
  2. Mounting Loss – The more you stay with a product, the more you have to lose by leaving.

She uses Evernote and Pinterest as examples of both accruing benefits and mounting loss. Another I would throw in that mix is Spotify. The personalize Spotify with things like custom playlists, the harder it is to switch to another service like Apple Music. I have to believe that “Creating a playlist” is in Spotify’s “Day Zero” strategy.