Nir Eyal is an author, public speaker, and expert in behavioral design and time management.
Eyal’s expertise lies at the intersection between human psychology and technology, and he has focused this experience and insight into a career spanning almost thirty years.
Eyal helps product managers, designers, and developers create products that go beyond simply solving customer problems, and instead motivate customers to want to use the product again. Whether it’s driving product adoption or ensuring that users get the most out of a product, Eyal’s ethos is about habits, motivation, and how human psychology affects the user experience.
Eyal holds an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and has been an angel investor in multiple companies including Eventbrite and Kahoot!, but it’s his work in behavioral design that truly makes him a pioneer in the product space.
Nir Eyal is perhaps best known in recent years as the author of the bestselling books Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (2013) and Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life (2019).
In reality, it’s the foundational work behind these books that accounts for Eyal’s expertise in the realm of product design and user experience.
In fact, if you consider Eyal’s experience, the positioning of his message about habit-forming technology and product "stickiness" makes perfect sense. On his website, nirandfar.com, Eyal describes his experience working in two very relevant fields: video games and advertising. In both industries, Eyal encountered different strategies to trigger or encourage certain user behaviors. Whether you call it motivation or manipulation, the result is the same: to have the user take action—and want to take action.
It was this experience that led Eyal to his fascination with human psychology and behavior, and how they both play into our interactions with technology.
This fascination informs both of Eyal’s books. In Hooked, Eyal offers advice to budding product managers and leaders on how to create a product that users want to engage with. And—as the name suggests—how to get them "hooked" on the product, wanting to keep using it.
In Indistractable, Eyal flips this concept on its head and instead focuses on how users can resist such strategies to maintain their focus on what matters most.
Well, he’s nothing if not balanced.
Eyal has tackled innumerable topics as a writer and a speaker, but some of his most interesting insights focus on the area of cognitive bias.
More specifically, Eyal’s advice on distinction bias can be very helpful if you’re a product manager considering how best to build out a feature.
The core conceit of distinction bias is that we, as fallible human beings, tend to over-value small differences when comparing things directly. Eyal shares the example of someone buying a TV: a slightly larger screen with a couple of extra features probably isn’t worth an extra 25% in price. But when you’re comparing side by side? Your brain might be fooled into thinking it is.
The lesson for product designers is that, sometimes, giving users too much choice can be detrimental to the user experience. And it applies to your team, too: don’t push yourself to add extra features when, in the reality of day-to-day use, most users won’t use the extra stuff anyway.
Another good example of Eyal’s psychology of human-user behavior is the peak-end rule.
Take a minute to think back to the best moments of your life. You might be thinking of a birthday, a wedding day, or a party, right? Now consider the color of the tablecloth that day, or the flavor of ice cream they served, or the first song that came on… stumped? The point of the peak-end rule is that humans only really remember the highlight reel of our lives. The smaller, more mundane moments pass us by and are forgotten in time, but the really intense stuff sticks in our memory.
As a product manager or behavioral designer, you can use this cognitive bias to ensure that you’re developing the big stuff first. This rule dovetails naturally with the concept of the minimum viable product (MVP), because you always want to lead with the big stuff and, as the saying goes, don’t sweat the small stuff.
As a writer and a speaker, Nir Eyal is truly prolific.
If you’re in product management or design, that’s very good news, because there’s plenty to sink your teeth into.
Beyond that, Eyal shares some incredibly valuable information on his blog. You’ll find a compendium of his most popular articles as well as the most recent posts. Topics include habit-forming technology, time management, and self-discipline.
If all of that wasn’t enough, you can also enjoy a weekly dose of Eyal’s critical thinking in your email inbox by subscribing to Nir’s weekly behavioral design newsletter. This includes articles penned by Eyal, but also a curated selection of articles by others that Eyal recommends.