7 Tips to Design for Repeat Users

Chris Coughlan

The exact number is highly debated, but it’s been said that it takes 28 days to form a habit. So when we create products for human consumption you could say it takes 28 uses to create a habit around the product. Today I’ll share 7 tips you can use to create a product that users will want to form a habit around.

1. Prioritize your audience groups

You won’t always have just one audience group. In fact, it’s rare to only have one group. When that happens, we prioritize the groups. Who will benefit most from this product? This allows us to build a product focused on the key users while keeping the preferences and needs of secondary groups in mind as well.

2. Understand the user’s motivation

There are many ways to understand a user’s motivation, but the key is to know how a problem impacts them emotionally. Taiichi Ohno, founder of Toyota Industries created the 5 Whys Method to find the root cause of the problem and continuously improve the product. When using this method for digital experiences, the root cause often correlates with the emotional impact of the problem on the user. This allows us to design with their motivation in mind.

3. Create triggers to prompt actions

Triggers cue the user to take action with your product. They come in two types. External triggers tell the user what to do next by placing information within the user’s environment, such as through emails and calls to action. Internal triggers tell the user what to do next through associations stored in the user’s memory and are powered through our emotions.

4. Design for simplicity

We use an iterative approach to simplify a product. We create a working prototype. Test it with our users by running through a series of tasks. As our users complete each task we take note of items related to the six elements of simplicity BJ Fogg identified:

  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Physical effort
  4. Brain cycles
  5. Social deviance
  6. Non-routine

We look for ways to simplify the prototype. Make updates. Test again.

5. Reward your user

To keep a user’s interest we add a variable reward to the product. One method that works really well for this is to include a small reward each time a visitor uses your product. Over time those small rewards can add up to a larger variable reward. These larger rewards help entice your users to return.

6. Invite your user to invest

Each bit of work a user puts into a product increases the perceived value to the user. They question the need of the product less and are even compelled to defend negative comments made about the product. Investment in your product can vary, but three common ways to ask your users to invest include adding content or data to your product, rating items or users and expanding their skillset.

7. Add an element of social interaction

We are social beings by nature. How can you get your users to interact with you and each other? Remember, whatever you do has to be easy and quick. This is why share and favorite buttons work so well. Users love these buttons as they allow them to discuss your content on a platform they already use and trust. Commenting provides your users with the opportunity to voice their opinion, provide feedback or applaud the author.

Have another tip to add? Share it in the comments.


About the Author

As a user-centered design advocate, Chris is the Director of Digital Strategy and enjoys connecting organizations with people to create meaningful conversations.

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