I just finished Windows 8.1 UX Design Jump Start online training on the Microsoft Virtual Academy. One of the major learning from this training is to focus on the "less is more" approach. This approach was adopted by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a precept for minimalist design.
In the "less is more" approach, it is essential to establish the "Great at" statement. This involves defining in one sentence what truly differentiates your software from the competition. Your product should focus on the scenarios and features that deliver on that greatness. Nothing more, and nothing less.
For several years, I thought that limiting scenarios and features to support the "Great at" statement was the main justification for creating this statement. A book that I read last spring has totally changed my understanding of what is a "Great at" statement. This book is Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.
This book provides a fascinating process for creating products and technologies based on human psychology, persuasion, habits, needs, etc. It describes the techniques you can use to keep the users of your software coming back to it frequently. This book covers the psychological side of business, but does so for the modern tech entrepreneur and business owner, not for the modern psychologist.
When building a habit-forming product, start with the source of emotion then build the product around one habit that fulfill this emotion. Hooked is not only about making things into a habit, but it’s also about where to make things seamless, where to give a variable reward, and how to pull people back to your product through action triggers. I've never read a book that covers all of these subjects so well.
Cognitive psychologists define habits as, “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues.” In this book, you will learn that building a habit consists of four parts: the trigger (make the user realize they must take action), the action (should be easy to achieve), a variable reward (keeps them coming back), and investment (leading people to engage and create value, which keeps them coming back).
After reading this book, I changed my approach to defining the "Great at" statement. Now, I start with the source of the emotion (eg, pain, joy, fear, etc.) - then I build the product around it (and not the other way around). I write the "Great at" statement from the point of view of the users, what they feel, and how the product will fill the emotional need they have.
In a previous post, I explained that the concrete measures and tasks presented in this book had greatly helped us during our last pivot. At the end of the pivoting process, after deciding to build a personal task planner, we developed the following "Great at" statement:
- Our product is great at getting a sense of fulfillment.
Our goal is to reproduce the positive emotion that makes you happy when you get an achievement. Our personal task planner provides a sense of fulfillment when a user acknowledges, commits and achieves a task. The scenarios and features must support this emotion. This is the narrative frame of our product.
In closing, I highly recommend reading Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. It’s a fascinating book, well-written read, and honestly – if you have a startup it’s a requirement on your reading list.