BJ Fogg's Habit Formula
While reading Hooked by Nir Eyal, I came across the formula for habits. I have one big problem with it.
Fogg says the key to habit is aligning your trigger with user's motivations to produce the desired behavior.
Trigger + Motivation = Behavior
In Behavior Sciences, we have a similar equation but with one significant difference. A consequence. It's motivation, trigger, and behavior followed by the consequence. The consequence can be reinforcing or punishing depending on what you are trying to achieve.
(Trigger + Motivation) + Behavior = Consequence
We have no control over motivations or specific behaviors. We can make some great guess based on the what we know about the average user's day looks like, but designers can't be sure of when people will be motivated.
I believe anyone with small children knows that the best-laid plans can not fully predict behaviors. Just because it was their favorite yesterday does not remove the possibility that they will tantrum when you put nuggets in front of them tonight.
Users will move through your site or app however they want. Designers have to make multiple paths through.
Designer and developers can control things like feedback, show progress, forgiveness for mistakes, ability to get help.
If people aren't coming back to app or site, you are missing either the trigger or your site didn't meet the user's need well or fast enough.
Strategy plays a critical role in getting people to make your product a habit. Just because you built does not mean people will come.