Get your customers invested,

and they’ll invest in you

Doug Cooper

Product Designer at Praxent • 3 minute read

Remember when you were going to track all your runs with that cool new app you downloaded but then you forgot to run? Or when you bought that cooking app but then never bought any groceries? Or when you downloaded a to-do list app but didn’t include checking the to-do list on your to-do list? Why is it that we download apps and go to the trouble of setting them up only to never use them again?

If you and your team create a useful app for your customers, the last thing you want is for them to download it just so they can forget to use it. Luckily for us, there are some things we can do to avoid that and some of them start as soon as the onboarding process.

Regular triggers can lead to habits.

Creating an app of real usefulness to your customers is hard. But even a well-designed app can go to waste if we don’t connect that usefulness to the routines and behaviors of our customers’ daily lives. In design, these habit-forming connections are called triggers. And oftentimes they are the difference between apps that get used and those that don’t. 

Triggers come in two types. They can be internal triggers like how a situation in our lives reminds us that we need to do something on our phones. Like how getting paid at the end of the week reminds you to look at your banking app. Or how driving can make you want to check Twitter (joking… kind of). There can also be external triggers. Things like emails and notifications that we as a company create. If well-timed, external triggers can remind users of our app’s value at the moment they may need it.

#UX Insight

Customization & Investment Loops

People invest time, money, information, or effort into a product in anticipation of future benefits. It makes them more likely to return because of the increase in perceived value. When executed properly, user investments load the next trigger to use your product.2

Investing in the experience is your customer’s first trigger.

If each one of our triggers leads to direct value, our users will start to associate our application with the value we are providing them. In the case of customization, that trigger is being formed without us having to bother our customers with an email or notification early on. All we are doing is trying to create a relationship between the application they just started using and how it will impact their lives in a positive way down the road. 

Not only that, but if we make it clear that the information a user is providing us during the onboarding process will lead to a more personalized experience for them, that connection to value feels even stronger and more important. Like, “Hey this is something just for me!”

Let’s look at an example of customization and investment.

Some apps do this by allowing you to customize your goals and then tie actions directly to those customizations.
For instance, Mint asks me how I want to improve my finances, and after selecting
“Change my spending habits” asks me to link my account.
Baylor Scott & White asks me to add my doctor almost immediately, then establishes that I’ll be able to
handle everything related to my doctor through the app after that.
Look at all this stuff I’ll be able to do!

The bottom line.

When writing a good purpose statement, it’s best not to think of it as just a feature list. Focus less on what your app can do, and more on what your app can do for your customer. By understanding their end goals (Why are they here? What were they trying to achieve?) you can communicate a message that those goals will be accomplished and they’ll be happier than when they started. Maybe it’s saving time by managing their bills online. Maybe it’s reducing stress by filing a claim online. Whatever it may be, by communicating the feature and the outcome, we can confirm with our users that they’re in the right place, and increase the perceived value of our product in the process.  

The bottom line: Tell me what your app can do for me and why it will help my life. If you do, the price you’re asking becomes a bargain to most users. And one they’re happy to pay for.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

About the Author

Doug Cooper, based in Austin, is a part of our Design Team as a Product Designer. Over his more than three years at Praxent he’s been bringing numerous ideas to our projects, upscaling our deliverables, and has also been promoting a collaborative environment. His top skills include writing, UX design, user research, and journey mapping. Learn more about Doug here.