The Hook Model in User Research: How To Keep Your Users Coming Back For More.

hook model

When it comes to user experience, there’s one golden rule to keep in mind: “Don’t make your users think.” The easier you can make it for them to interact with your product or website, the better.

This is where the hook model comes into play.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what the hook model is and how you can use it to create a more seamless user experience for your customers.

Let’s get ‘hooked,’ shall we?

What is a Hook Model?

The hook model is a technique used in product marketing and advertising which attempts to create a need or desire in the consumer for a product or service. It uses psychological triggers to make an impulse in the person to buy the product.

The Hook Model is a popular user experience design framework that aims to keep users coming back for more.

It was developed by Nir Eyal, author of the book “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products,” and is based on his years of research into how technologies hook us and keep us coming back.

The four steps of the hook model are:

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Reward
  4. Investment.

The first three steps are used to get the person interested in the product, while the last step is what gets them actually to buy it.

Each step is designed to keep users engaged and coming back for more. By understanding and applying the Hook Model, you can maximize the chances of customer success.

Once you’ve figured out how to hook your users, they’ll want to use your app, product, service, or SaaS over and over again. And once they do, you’ll be able to create more opportunities for engagement.

This is where it gets fun!

How the hook model works?

You know what the 4 main phases of steps of the hook model are. Now, let’s understand in detail what happens in each of these steps. Here’s how the hook model works

1: Trigger

This step of the hook model is the impetus for an action that leads to someone entering a system. Triggers are classified into two types: external and internal.

The external trigger notifies users with an email, link, or icon. Internal triggers are produced within the system as users go through consecutive hooks when using the product.

By cycling through external hooks repeatedly, users begin to form interactions with internal triggers, which become associated with pre-existing behaviors and emotions. Users would then soon be internally triggered whenever they feel a certain way. The internal trigger becomes inculcated in their routine behavior, forming a habit.


Assume Alice, a young woman, in her 20s, from New York, views a photo on her Facebook timeline taken by a close relative from a rural corner of the U.S. It’s a lovely photo, and this trigger (the photo) piques her interest because she’s planning a holiday there with her brother Joey.

2: Action

The intended action follows the trigger in the hook model.

Companies pull two ropes of human behavior – motivation and ability.

To increase the likelihood of a user performing the intended action, the user experience designer makes the action as simple as possible while still increasing the user’s motivation.

This Hook phase employs the theory and practice of usability design to ensure that the user acts in the manner that the designer plans.


Continuing Alice as an example, when she clicks on an interesting picture in her newsfeed, she is taken to a website called Pinterest that she has never visited before. She’s amazed by what she sees after completing the intended action (in this case, clicking on the photo).

3: Variable Reward

This is the step of the hook model that allows you to establish desire in your users.

What distinguishes Hooks from a standard feedback loop is their ability to arouse desire in the user. Feedback loops abound, but predictable ones do not elicit desire.

The typical response of your fridge light turning on when you open the door does not compel you to keep opening it. However, throw some variation into the mix—say, a different treat appears in your refrigerator each time you open it—and you’ve got a recipe for intrigue. You’ll be looking to open that door like a Skinner box lab animal.

Variable reward schedules are one of the most effective tools businesses use to entice users. Dopamine levels rise when the brain anticipates a reward, according to research.


Pinterest, for example, employs a variable reward system by displaying images relevant to your interests and other items that may take your fancy.

So, when Alice is taken to interest, she might see photos of the rural corners of the U.S. but also videos and tutorials of skincare regimes.

The intriguing contrast of relevant and irrelevant, tempting and mundane, gorgeous and ordinary sends her brain’s dopamine system into overdrive with the promise of a reward. She’s now spending more time on the web, looking for the next fantastic find. She’s spent 45 minutes looking for her next hit before realizing it.

4: Investment

This is the step where the user must now put in some work.

Consider it as investing in the product, which might take time, data, attention, social connections, or money. But this isn’t just about swiping their credit and debit cards.

Investment is defined as any activity that improves the product, such as inviting more users into the system, providing feedback on features, and so on.


In our example, Alice develops a habit of saving the things that excite her as she scrolls endlessly through the Pinterest wonderland. By saving items, she will be providing the site with information about her tastes.

Soon, she’ll be following, pinning, re-pinning, sharing a pin, and making other investments to strengthen her links to the site and prepare her for future cycles via the Hook. ?

And there you have it, your four phases of the Hook Model. Once you know how the hook model works, we can get into the hook model’s importance and how to use the hook model in user research and UX design.

What is the importance of the Hook model?

The hook model is important for businesses because it can help them create a connection with their customers. It can also help businesses understand how to keep their customers engaged and make sure that they come back for more.

Additionally, the hook model can help businesses track customer behavior to understand better what their customers want and need.

It is crucial to understand what motivates consumer behavior to create products that customers use daily. With this expertise, you can provide your business with a significant competitive advantage.

Product managers, product designers, product marketing managers, and product teams must utilize the hook model early in product development. This ensures that the new product will become a customer success.

Hook model in user research

When doing user research on a product or service’s users, the user researcher generally aims to discover their motivations, behaviors, wants, desires, habits, demands, preferences, pain spots, and so on toward the product while using it.

The product cycle is divided into three stages: discovery, development, and launch.

Here’s how user research may employ the hook model in these three stages of the Product Life Cycle:

Product Discovery

During the Product Discovery Phase, consumers’ requirements, preferences, challenges, behaviors, and motivations are identified.

All four components of the Hook Model are utilized to identify the user’s demands that produce triggers, their actions while using other products, and what sort of reward encourages them to invest in a product.

Product managers develop strategies to create user habit-forming products or services that meet the demands of the consumers while also hooking them into the process. Here, we use a human-centered design approach. 

Another essential tool known as software for product managers is mandatory to create great strategies and craft amazing products.

Product Development

In the product development phase, we yield product ideas along with information architectures, user flows, conceptual models, wireframes, and prototypes in order to run a user test. The marketing and sales team should simultaneously build their strategies at this time.

User researchers provide insight by constantly conversing with users, interviewing users while they test the product, and observing them use the prototypes to gain insights. This ensures that the product aligns with their needs, behaviors, and desires, while also ensuring that the product hooks the users.

Product Launch

Now, here’s when the product is finally launched into the market and goes live.

We conduct user research to understand the effectiveness of the hook, the possible weaknesses in the product that may be a hindrance to habit formation. It is also used to check the pain points of the user experience and how the product makes the users happy.

In this manner, product iterations will continue with the support of user research Insights, ensuring that consumers remain engaged.

Questions to improve the hook model in user research

  • Does the user frequently take action driven by their internal trigger?
  • Is the external trigger prompting them to act when they are most likely to?
  • Is the design straightforward enough to enable taking action simply?
  • Is the reward sufficient to meet the consumers’ needs while also leaving them craving more?
  • Do consumers put effort into the product, providing value to improve the user experience and loading the next trigger?

We can focus on building improvements to our product where it counts the most if we can determine where it is weak.

What are the Hook model Examples?

The Hook Model is a research framework gaining traction in the user experience industry over the past few years. 

The model is based on the idea that users need a reason to keep using a product, and that product designers should focus on creating habits instead of just features.

There are countless examples of the Hook Model being used in user research, but here are a few that stand out. 

  1. Nike, for example, uses the Hook Model to keep people coming back to their app. They do this by using triggers like badges and leaderboards to encourage users to set goals and track their progress. 
  1. LinkedIn also uses the Hook Model to help users find people with similar interests. Most social media platforms use the hook model to maximize the potential of digital marketing ads.
  1. If you’re a SaaS company, you can implement the hook model by engaging in a freemium plan, newsletters, blogs, and affiliate marketing.

Not all hooks are created equal, though. The success of your hook depends on how it’s applied. To figure out which type of hook you should use, you need to consider what motivates people to take action and convert that into your user experience design.

To keep users coming back for more, you need to know how to create a habit-forming product. Using the Hook Model, you can keep track of the critical moments that keep users coming back for more. 

To learn more about different frameworks and models for your product or business, check out our blogs today! 

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