Making Data Products Habit-Forming: Insights from Lunch with Nir Eyal

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I never imagined that a simple Tweet could lead to me sitting across a table from one of the most influential thought leaders in my field, but that’s exactly what happened to me earlier this year when I met Nir Eyal.

I gave a Data Talk video about designing and launching data products back in April, where I mentioned that GoodData follows a data product model inspired by Nir’s groundbreaking book Hooked. Nir is well known as a premier expert on creating “sticky” technology products that users employ over and over again out of sheer habit.

When the video and the accompanying blog post were published, I shared them on Twitter, with a nod to Nir for his inspiration. Nir actually responded, and those tweets led to a meeting over lunch.

Toting a suitcase full of books for him to sign for our customers, I met Nir for lunch. After clarifying that I was not, as he’d mistakenly assumed, the founder of GoodData, I posed a question that had been on my mind since I first read his book: How do you make technology “sticky” — or to use his terminology, “habit-forming” — if it’s not something people use on a daily basis?

In Nir’s book, his examples of sticky products include the iPhone, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest — all products that people are likely to use every day. But the data products that we create are different, more likely to be used on a weekly or monthly basis. So what’re the best strategies to make these products habit-forming?

Make It Personal

The first thing we can do, Nir shared, is make sure that our data products surface the insights that matter most to the end user. In other words, we need to make it as easy and intuitive as possible for users to find and absorb the analytics that are most pertinent to achieving their goals.

Go With the (Work)flow

The second insight Nir shared with me is the importance of embedding data products into users’ regular workflow. Instead of asking them to click over to another tool or another online portal, we make those analytics an integral part of the tools they use on a regular basis, increasing the likelihood that they use them.

I walked away from our lunch meeting with much more than a suitcase full of signed books (thanks, Nir!). I had confirmation from an objective industry expert that we’re delivering what our clients need in a habit-forming data solution. By delivering products that allow personalization of reports and embedding of solutions into regular workflows, we empower our clients to offer value-driven products that aren’t simply useful — they’re habit forming.

For more insights on designing and launching data products, keep an eye out for my upcoming article on the Data Informed website.

October 27, 2016
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