Lessons from The Power of Habit in Design and Life
Ever thought your daily routine could be the secret sauce to success? Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” unravels the science behind our habits, revealing the profound impact they have on our lives and work. As a product/graphic designer & strategist, this book hit home. Offering fascinating insights into leveraging habits for personal and professional growth.
The Habit Loop:
At the heart of habit formation is the 🔁 habit loop. This psychological pattern involves a 🔴 cue (a trigger for the behaviour), a routine 📲 (the behaviour itself), and a reward 😸 (a positive reinforcement). Understanding and manipulating this loop is key to breaking bad habits and fostering beneficial ones.
Duhigg also highlights how organizational habits can drive efficiency and profitability, with Starbucks being a prime example. Their employee training programs, designed to instil willpower and customer service habits, show how structured routines can empower employees and enhance customer experiences. For any organization, building such foundational habits can be the difference between good and great.
Example 1: ☕️ Starbucks: Brewing Perfect Habits
Starbucks leverages the habit loop in training employees, turning exceptional customer service into a routine. Employees learn to identify cues, like a long queue, and implement routines, such as engaging customer interaction, leading to rewards like customer satisfaction and personal achievement.
Example 2: 🥽 Alcoa’s Safety Transformation
Another compelling example is Alcoa under Paul O’Neill. By focusing on safety—a clear cue—he fostered a routine of caution and prevention, with the reward being a safer workplace. This focus unexpectedly boosted morale and productivity, showcasing the habit loop’s broad applicability.
The Febreze Story. A Design Case Study
One of the book’s standout stories is Febreze’s journey from a struggling product to a household name. It’s a masterclass in understanding that solving a problem isn’t enough; how you weave your solution into the customer’s daily routines and emotional desires can make or break your product. For designers, it’s a reminder that the user’s story and how they perceive their needs are as crucial as the design solution itself.
How might we improve people’s oral health? – Pepsodent’s Success
Claude Hopkins’s challenge, 🪥 “How do we get more people to brush their teeth?” led to Pepsodent’s triumph. By linking tooth brushing to the desire for a beautiful smile, Hopkins showcased the power of a simple cue (tooth film) and a rewarding routine (brushing) in establishing a global habit. It’s a strategy every designer should note: find your product’s “tooth film” and make it irresistible 🦷.
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Designing Habit-Forming Products
As designers, we often grapple with making our products indispensable. Duhigg’s insights offer a roadmap: identify potential cues in users’ environments, create rewarding routines, and ensure your product is part of that loop. Whether it’s software/apps that become a daily tool or a product that fits seamlessly into life, understanding and moulding user habits can be your biggest ally.
“The Power of Habit” is a lens through which to view the world, offering a blueprint for personal and professional transformation. For designers and businesses, it’s a call to action: delve into the habits of your users, and you’ll find the keys to making your mark. Remember, great products don’t just happen; they’re designed into our lives, one habit at a time.
Reflect on the habit loops present in your life or your users’ experiences. How can you influence these loops for better outcomes? Start small, identify a cue, and craft a rewarding routine. The power of habit is in your hands. Speaking of power in your hands, get yourself a copy of this amazing book here or on your favourite retailer.
Ready to take your product to the next level? Contact us, and let’s make your product an indispensable part of people’s lives.
About the author
Esteban Garcia Romero
The 🇳🇿 New Zealand-based 📱product designer, 🎨 graphic artist & 🏔️ adventure seeker from 🇨🇴 Colombia. Esty is the product design lead for the data science company Parrot Analytics. He’s also the director of Neziak Design Studio and artist & curator for Neziak Creative Collective.
The golden circle, the celery test and other key takeaways from this influential book to help you apply these principles in your own context.