Behavioral Product Critique Summary
- The Fabulous onboarding flow violates a variety of different Behavioral Design and User Experience (UX) rules.
- The Fabulous throws a variety of different behavioral science tactics at users without much thought. Many are inappropriately deployed (implementation intentions, for example).
- The Fabulous asks users to give them a lot of information without first building trust or giving them a concrete understanding of how the app works.
- The Fabulous’ success is likely due to filtering out unmotivated potential users via a tedious onboarding process.
- The Fabulous tries to get users to share in-app content and invite friends and family in gimmicky ways that destroy trust.
Behavioral Product Critique
The above video is an example of a Behavioral Product Critique, also called a Behavioral Audit. The goal is to analyze a product through the behavioral science lens to better understand how it changes behavior, and how it can do a better job at changing behavior. The Fabulous app is based on behavioral science research, but is not a good example of effective product design based on behavioral science. The app utilizes behavioral science research in an awkward, cookie-cutter manner.
This is a product critique, a behavioral science product critique of Fabulous, the Daily Habit Tracker. Let’s start with the App Store landing page. It says “Fabulous Daily Habit Tracker: Healthy routines and motivation”. All the preview pages seem to be built around routines, such as personalized daily routine, morning routine, afternoon routine, and evening routine. I will say that these screens look pretty lame. They get the point across that the app is all about creating and tracking routines, and making sure that you follow through on different routines. However, they look cheesy and unimpressive. I’m curious to see what the onboarding experience is like.
“Science built by behavior change experts” is an interesting claim that appeals to science and authority. “30 million people already use the Fabulous app.” That’s a compelling statistic. They’re using social proof to persuade you that a lot of people trust them, and you should too.
“What is behavioral science? Behavioral science seeks to understand why people behave the way they do. It also provides solutions to help people follow through on their good intentions.” Cool. They’re emphasizing the importance of behavioral science, and then they immediately jump into a questionnaire. “So, how much sleep do you usually get at night?” Okay, got it. “Do you wake up feeling well-rested?” “How much time do you have at the start of your day?” I assume that they’re asking this to figure out what they should suggest. For example, if I only have ten minutes free each morning, they would suggest a very small routine. If I have more time, they would suggest a more involved routine. However, realistically, they should probably just suggest a small routine for everybody to begin with. So they could probably skip this question. It’s somewhat useful, but I would personally cut this question. I’ll just say “zero to five minutes throughout the day.”
“How are your energy levels?” Let’s just say “medium”. “How satisfied are you with your current fitness level?” I would say that this onboarding flow is already pretty personal. It’s asking for private information such as your thoughts on how satisfied you are with your fitness level and how much energy you have. The app hasn’t even told me yet how it’s going to help me. I don’t even know what the app does exactly. It seems to be related to morning, afternoon, and evening routines, like creating those for me, but I have no idea yet whether or not the app is actually going to be useful or fulfill my needs. It’s asking for a lot of information without giving me a sense of how this information will be used. The app hasn’t told me yet how it’s going to help me specifically. Therefore, I think that, similar to newb, this app is already falling into bad UX. There are some questionable product decisions here.
“How satisfied are you with your current fitness level?” I’ll just say “somewhat over the past year.” “What’s been your experience building better habits?” Okay, we hear you. “What single change would improve your life?” Interesting. So they’re focusing on these four areas: energy, productivity, mindfulness, and sleep.
I am assuming that over the years, they have learned that these are the four biggest concerns of people. When you mention energy, do you usually focus on the past or the future? Interesting. Let me just sum up by saying that I can enjoy life because of the way I manage my money.
Again, these questions seem really random. They don’t give me a sense of what I’m building or what I’m building towards. What will all this information be used for? It would be more useful if they told me, “Hey, we need to ask you a few questions to come up with an optimized set of morning, afternoon, and evening routines for you.”
Don’t worry, all this information will be kept private, and you can have confidence in us to ensure that none of your personal information will be misused. This is just between you and us, so please answer a few of these questions. It would also be more confidence-inspiring if, for example, after answering a question like this, they said, “Hey, thank you. This information is helpful. It will really help us develop the best morning routine for you,” or something like that.
Give me some information or feedback as to why this is useful or helpful. I agree, but I think it’s a poorly designed question. Giving a gift for a wedding, birthday, or other occasion would put a strain on my finances for a month. Once again, it seems completely random, and it’s just a strange question. I neither agree nor disagree.
How strong is your support system? Interesting. Okay, I’ll just say medium. How distractible are you? I’m answering all these questions not based on how I actually feel but because I want to mimic what I think the average user will input.
Right. I think the average user probably doesn’t have that much money saved up. They don’t have that much money available in case of emergencies. They don’t necessarily have that many confidants. People are pretty lonely these days. Most people struggle with distraction and focus. So I’ll say that I’m easily distracted here.
Why are you embarking on this journey to build healthy habits? An interesting set of options. Let’s see, I’ll say to set and achieve goals. Almost there. Tell us what you’re interested in.
It seems like they’re just throwing the kitchen sink at you here, right? Like every self-help and personal development thing imaginable: productivity, self-discipline, financial habits, physical wellness, better sleep, purpose and motivation, gratitude, mindfulness. It’s an interesting strategy. Let’s see, I’ll just say something like anxiety and stress.
Behavior change. Cool. Mindfulness. Let’s say productivity. Let’s just pick these four.
All right, they’re doing the whole “we’re finalizing your personal journey”. We’re analyzing all the data you gave us to come up with a plan.
Okay, cool. So here are the results. It looks like we hear you loud and clear. You’re embarking on this journey to build more energy. Fitness could be better. So they’re summarizing everything you’ve told them, right? They’re saying your fitness could be better. Your support system could be better, your mindfulness could be better, your productivity could be better.
Cool. Fabulous was born at the Duke University Center for Advanced Hindsight. 96% of users say Fabulous has changed their lives for the better. Fabulous is 22 million users strong. So they’re saying earlier they said Fabulous had, I think, 30 million users. So there’s already kind of a discrepancy here where on this page it says 22 million users before they said 30 million users. I think that’s just a detail. Maybe they overlooked it. It definitely destroys some trust there because they’re already giving me ding data.
This figure of 96%, I’m assuming they just got that from one of those annoying pop ups that pops up inside of the app where they say, “are you enjoying Fabulous so far?” Or “has Fabulous helped you so far?” And then it just says yes or no. But they probably make the yes button really big or something so that everybody hits yes just because 96%. I just find it highly unlikely that if you were to actually sample, get a sample of everybody who downloaded the app, including the people who churned that 96% of those people would say the app has made their life better. So whenever you see stats like this, it’s always based on usually based on manipulative or misleading statistics. It’s probably just how do you define a user? Is a user somebody who stayed with you for at least a month or two months or three months? If you define a user in a very constraining way where you’re basically filtering out everybody who didn’t find the app useful, then you get freakish statistics like this. So I’m just guessing that’s probably how they came up with this stat.
Such thing to be aware of. Looks like they want you to share your growth plan. I just think that stuff like this is just gimmicky and just doesn’t create a great experience. Like they’re already pushing you to share a growth plan based on just a few multiple choice questions. I’d be surprised if anybody really does this. I bet you almost nobody does this. Or people do. It might just be on accident. I just think it’s strange to ask people to share a growth plan that just seems like a gimmicky growth hack.
So far I think that they’ve overall done a pretty bad job with the onboarding experience from a behavior design perspective. They haven’t really given us a picture of how they’re going to help us. They haven’t really given us any reasons behind any of their questions. They’ve thrown the whole kitchen sink at us in terms of the ways that they can help us. They have conflicting data. So 30 million versus 22 million. Yeah, I think it’s overall just a quite poor onboarding experience thus far. But anyways, I’m just going to tap on the screen, click through.
Did they ask for a full name? Oh, I had Jason for the first name. I’m 36 years old. How do you identify at times? Will you provide gender-specific recommendations? Will you say “man”? When do you wake up, generally? Okay.
It’s interesting that they anchor you at such an early time. I guess these would be the most common times people wake up. But yeah, I wake up at around 8 AM, so I’ll say 08:00 AM. Your email is required. Okay, it’s Jason at the behavioral scientist. Please do not send me motivational emails.
It’s interesting they have this opt-out option, but it’s a non-standard UI. I’ve never seen a checkbox that looks like that. I think most people probably just overlook that opt-out checkbox. But let’s see. Jason at the behavioralscientist.com, so I’ll say continue.
They’re having you do this contract stuff. “So I, Jason, will make the most of tomorrow. I will always remember that I will not live forever. Every fear and irritation that threatens to distract me will become fuel for building my best life one day at a time.”
“Hint: tap and hold the fingerprint. To commit pre-committing to a goal via contracts like this has been shown to inspire action and reduce procrastination.”
There is some behavioral science research that seems to show that pre-commitment can have an impact on goal completion and behavioral follow-through, but it’s pretty weak, especially in a situation like this. Committing to somebody you care about, like a spouse or a family member that you have a deep relationship with, or close friends, your friend group, a commitment in a situation like that definitely has going to be a lot more impactful than committing to a computer or an application or this unknown digital entity.
I think that what this app is doing so far is inelegant. They’re just throwing all these behavioral science behavior change tactics at you, the user, in a way that I think is probably pretty ineffective. They’re just like, “oh, hey, okay, we should pre-commitment and commitment contracts, increase behavior change. Let’s have them before even entering the application, just, like, commit to us and to themselves,” right? Like by doing this fingerprint contract or, “hey, let’s get them to tell us what they are really motivated by and what they really care about and get them to share their improvement plan that we will create for them.”
In general, I just think that these are awkward, basic attempts at behavior change using research that is just not all that effective. Okay, so now I’m doing the fingerprint contract. That’s been a nice animation.
Enjoy your first week. It’s free. Jason, do you copy? It’s me, future Jason. I’m calling from 2024 because today is an important day for you, for us, Sunday, March 5, 2023, is the day we decided to change our lives for the better. I have excellent news. I’m healthy, in great shape, and worry-free. Thanks to the choices you’re making, I’ll be with you every step of the way. Future Jason.
Okay, so it looks like I get a free week. Great. So I just signed up for this free trial. Your purchase was successful.
I do think it’s a little frustrating and weird that they make you subscribe or pre-commit to paying before entering the app. In general, the best practice for any product is to get people into the application before they pay and show them how you can help them, even giving them a valuable experience during their first few minutes inside the product or service.
I think it’s not a good idea to have a paywall before entering the main experience. My hunch is that they’re just trying to get people to sign up for trials and auto-pay billing, knowing that many will forget to cancel and continue to make payments. This approach isn’t great for operating an app or a business, but it has become more normalized in recent years.
Anyway, I just signed up for Fabulous Premium. The app is sending me a special letter, promising delightful content and features, unlimited access, and customization. There’s just too much text, making it a little muddy.
Thank you, Jason. I remember this day. I wondered if this would work. Would I finally follow through? This time, I didn’t know whether or not I could do it. Here’s a secret: you can. How do I know I’m future you? I did it. We did it. I’m here to tell you that this journey into the world of Fabulous leads to your future self.
You’ll soon build your morning, afternoon, and evening rituals that become your rocks. But first, start your morning with one simple habit: drinking water. I know what you’re thinking. It’s what I thought too. Drinking water is too simple. As your future self, I’m asking you to trust me because I’ve done it. I know you want to rush headlong into success. You’ve waited this long. Let this new way of life sink in every step, no matter how small. It’s a triumph. Get used to it. Congratulations for every effort you make.
You’ll see things one step at a time. Start to breathe easy as you realize this is a place without negative judgment. Watch your resolve.
Become fortified as you slowly grow your routines far beyond drinking water. Learn the art of habit building. You didn’t just find an app that shows you what you want. You found an app that shows you how to get it. Believe in yourself. Believe in me. Believe in us. Always your friend, Future.
I can appreciate what they’re doing here. I understand what they’re trying to do here. I personally find this pretty cheesy. I think for a certain type of user, this could be compelling and motivating. But I do think almost everybody’s just going to click continue and skip past this.
It’s also interesting that they’ve been pushing the science, the behavioral science angle really hard. But then they also talk about the art of habit building here. It’s interesting that they’ve switched away from the science angle and now call it an art rather than a science, instead of saying learn the science of habit building. I just think that’s interesting, but we can go onto the next screen.
How did you hear about us? Okay, cool. I’ll just say friend or family. Do you already do any of these habits? Okay, breathe. I hope everybody breathes. I hope everybody’s in the breathing habit. Let’s just say exercise, meditation, to-do list. Cool, Jason’s first step.
A Duke University study states that people who used Fabulous were more likely to achieve their goals, stay motivated, and feel better about themselves in two weeks. Now it’s your turn.
Interesting. So there are two options, continue and let me explore. First, I want to have the prototypical user experience, which I assume is continuing. So I’m going to hit continue, but I am very interested in knowing what let me explore does.
I do find it interesting that the rule of thumb in the world of behavioral science is that a study is just as likely to find false results as it is to find true results. So you should not inherently trust behavioral science research. There have been a lot of studies over the years looking at the reliability of research, like how likely is it to replicate? Some of the earlier replication studies showed something like a 36% replication rate, so more than half of studies didn’t replicate. More recent research has pulled that number in the 50% to 60% range.
I personally think that a 50% reproducibility rate is roughly what one should expect. I think that’s a safe and conservative figure to use. Is that okay? If you hear about a new scientific study, a new behavioral science study, just flip a coin, heads or tails. It’s just as likely to be true as it is to be false. So you should approach everything with a great degree of skepticism.
If a study is being done for commercial purposes, if a company is running a study to test whether or not their product or service is effective, you should be even more skeptical. That makes it less likely that you can trust a positive result.
So what I would say in this situation is that one should be very skeptical of a Duke University study finding that this app is successful at helping people achieve their goals, since this app was created by a group from Duke. I think there’s an inappropriate financial incentive that the researchers have. And it’s also interesting that they do not say how much more likely Fabulous users were to achieve their goals.
Is it absolutely minuscule? Is it like 2% more likely? 5% more likely? How much more likely is it that Fabulous users are able to achieve their goals versus a group that didn’t use Fabulous or use some other goal-setting or routine-based technique or something? I think you should always be very skeptical of this stuff.
Okay, the mountains. First mountain: the foundation. Welcome to Fabulous. Mountains are cornerstones to build your Fabulous self-adventure through three levels to master these mountains. Interesting. Okay.
The first mountain forms the bedrock of your daily habits. Your foundation is fostered here. The second mountain shapes your inner world. You confront and fortify your mind here. The third mountain empowers your mind. You lay out and voyage the path you envision for yourself here. Okay. It’s a breathtaking journey onwards to your first journey.
So I do like that they are giving you a detailed path. They’re telling you they’re giving you step-by-step instructions in a sense to improving your life. And I think step-by-step instructions, by getting rid of all of the paralysis and getting rid of the infinite options one can take in order to improve their life, like by boiling that down into a predefined set of specific to-dos, I do think that can be very useful. But I’m very interested in seeing how they structure this as an experience.
One last thing: people who turn on notifications are three times as likely to achieve their goal. Would you like to succeed in building effective habits? A manipulative way of describing or getting people to turn on their notifications. Right? They’re basically saying that turning on notifications means that you want to succeed. I think it’s a little manipulative, but I get it. And I would be interested in seeing how much more likely people are to click on the opt-in button with this language versus just a simpler language.
Something like, “Yes, feel free to send me notifications,” or “Yes, send me notifications.” One last thing: “Would you like us to notify you when there’s a to-do or new action step that we want you to take?” “Yes, please do,” or “Yes, please send me notifications,” or something like that. “Yes, I want to succeed.” Okay, I’ll just say “yes” for now. I’ll allow them to send me notifications.
An Unexpected Journey: Let’s watch this for the next three days. Drink water when you wake up to kickstart your body and start your day with success. Do it three times this week to succeed, and then there’s an interesting tooltip here: “Why am I doing this?” I know, I know, Jason, this just feels too simple, but we have a plan for you. We’re starting very small so we can build strong foundations. Soon, your goals will rise to caring for your physical and mental health.
Okay, cool. I accepted. Interesting. So, welcome Jason. This is your morning routine. Tap on the circle to see how to complete your goal: drinking water. Great. So you just tap the checkbox to mark it as done. Give it a try. So I just tap that. Cool.
It’s common to think that habits either stick or they don’t. You either remember why you started, or you forget entirely. Motivation either keeps flowing, or it just dries up. Your behavior may not seem rational, but it is certainly not random. Every decision, every action is the result of a million invisible forces that build it up or break it down. People who build good habits that become part of who they are haven’t found infinite willpower.
They’ve found freedom from a force called friction. Friction is the invisible force that makes healthy routines hard. But Fabulous has a formula rooted in behavioral science that has helped millions of users like you overcome it. Start slow, send an invitation, plant signals, let wins in, and find your rhythm. Practicing this formula of routines is key to making it stick. Habit building is a skill you can learn and master, just like how you might have learned to speak a language or drive a car until it became automatic. You are about to hardwire yourself with the ability to build lifelong habits. Starting slow is the quiet but vital act of courage that marks true greatness, though the new habit you’re about to add may seem too tiny to make a difference. Bringing an intention to life through small, sustainable actions is the magic that fuels lasting change. Reduce the friction points on your path to positive change. Learn to challenge and change your mindset and simply begin with one small action. Once you take this courageous first step, you’ll have catapulted yourself towards a future that seems nothing short of superhuman. In the next lesson, you’ll learn another strategy for overcoming your personal obstacles to change.
Okay, so kind of a cheesy video. Read the letter. Interesting. So they have it in written form too? I guess you can share it. So they let you share all this content with people? Let’s go to the next step here. It’s weird. I keep hitting “done.” What’s next? That’s just some bad UI. It looks like the video is already marked as viewed, but you actually have to hit the “mark as viewed” button. That’s just bad UX, but fine. Easy fix.
So you’re all set. We’ll gently remind you tomorrow to drink water with a very subtle sound. Are you going to drink water tomorrow? So they’re just trying to get you to pre-commit, right? They’re just using all this, what I think is ineffective, behavioral science research to try and hack your way to following through on a habit. Just committing to an app, once again, it matters who you commit to, right? Committing to somebody that you care about can be impactful. Committing to an app, I just have no faith that it has any discernible long-term effect. So I’m just going to say, “Are you going to drink water tomorrow?” Cool. I’ll say yes, I will. Why not? Great determination according to behavioral science. Plan making according to behavioral science. Okay, a little bit awkward. A little bit of awkward writing here. According to behavioral science, plan making makes us more likely to follow through on our habits. We recommend you think through when, where, and how you will drink water tomorrow. So this whole area of research is called implementation intention research, where it’s like when you have an intention to do something, you come up with a specific plan for when, where, and how you’re going to actually follow through with that intention. I believe that the main research was done, I believe it was at Yale University around getting people to get vaccinated or something along those lines. I actually don’t know how many studies have been done on this topic. I don’t know if it’s just like a couple of studies or there’s a huge body of research on implementation intentions. I would need to go back and brush up on this literature. But the original studies were, if I remember correctly, very small. They didn’t have a ton of participants, and they were done a long time ago.
This is another one of those things that I’m skeptical about, especially for a behavior like drinking water. For something like getting a vaccine, I could see it being a little bit more impactful because if you ask a random person on a college campus, “Hey, if you have to go get your tetanus booster, where would you go?” A lot of people probably wouldn’t know, right? They would be like, “Maybe the hospital, or maybe I’d have to find a doctor and create an appointment.” Or a lot of people probably wouldn’t know that you can just go to the student health center and walk in and just go to a particular desk and give them your name.
And so getting rid of that uncertainty and saying, “Hey, here’s specifically how you can do it, and here’s how to get there, and here’s the center that you need to go to” that actually is useful. You’re actually helping that person or those people figure out how to do that behavior. You’re getting rid of some barriers, actual barriers there with something like drinking water, especially in your own house as part of your morning routine, there are no actual barriers there.
There are no information barriers. There’s nothing preventing you from doing that very quickly and easily. So with something where there’s an actual kind of where there’s an information barrier or just people don’t even know how to do it, I have no doubt that giving them that information and having them create a specific step-by-step plan for doing it at some point in the future. I have no doubt that helps to a certain degree. I don’t think the effect is going to be huge, but I do think that will help to a certain degree.
But for something like drinking water, I feel pretty confident in saying that this will have no impact. Or if it does have an impact, it’s going to be so small that it’s just laughable. So I do think that implementation intentions, in this case, doing something incredibly easy that you’ve done a million times before in your own home, I really think this will have no effect.
But this is just another example of the people at this company. They’re just throwing every behavioral science concept possible at their users to try and get them to follow through on these behaviors. And it just comes across as a little bit gimmicky and cheesy to me. That video that just played, I think it’s pretty cheesy.
So overall, I think that there are much better ways of doing everything that they’ve tried to do here in a way that better respects the user, that has a better user experience, and that more effectively gets users on board with what they’re trying to do. But I’ll just say yes, please remind me. Great. Let’s embark on our journey.
Okay, so we filled out letter number one. Now they’re saying to drink water today. I’ll mark that as done. It says, “Way to go! Great work today, Jason. Your commitment to drink water is working. One out of three. Great, off you go. You did it!” Jason, you’re already forming healthy habits through small steps. Will you commit to drinking water tomorrow? Why not? Gratitude is contagious. You can also add a link to the Positivity chain, where you can write a letter, make a call, and show someone gratitude. Interesting. Okay, so they’re basically chaining actions together. Like every action you take inside the application, they give you another step to do. Right? It’s a pretty good idea, I think.
However, instead of giving you complete freedom to express gratitude in your own way, they’re pushing you to send this cheesy piece of art, this cheesy image with “Thank you for your help.” So if I click text, I don’t know, this just seems like a gimmicky bad growth hack. After I checked off that I drank water today, they said, “Great! Another good practice is expressing and practicing gratitude. Do you want to express gratitude to somebody?” And then if you say yes, they give you this image that you can share or text. But when you click on the text button to text somebody with what looks like an image, it pulls up this message that they’ve already prefilled for you, which is, “I’m starting a three-day Unexpected Journey challenge.” I don’t think we’ve ever been exposed to this term “Unexpected Journey” or if we have, it just passed through my mind. So that’s just what’s a little surprising and a little weird for a random person. If I did text this to somebody, nobody else would know what “Unexpected Journey” means, so I think they would just be confused. I think that whoever wrote this just didn’t really think through the user experience here. It’s just thus far not a good message.
It says, “You inspired me to be my best, and I wanted you to know that during my challenge. Will you hold me accountable? Research has shown that I’ll be more likely to complete the challenge with your help. Want to follow along? Get the app here.” I’m not going to lie, I think this is awful. They turned what seemed like an innocent or an impactful exercise, which is practicing gratitude or being grateful, into just a spammy recruiting growth hack. And the message isn’t even written well. I think it would be much better if they just said…
I think it would help the user a lot more if, after drinking the water, doing your first challenge, your first activity of the day, they said, “Hey, another one of the most impactful things you can do as part of your routine is expressing gratitude, especially to the people that you love and care about. Is there somebody that you really care about that you haven’t talked to in a while or that you haven’t expressed gratitude to in a while?” And then maybe you can click yes, and it says, “Great, just text them a small note of appreciation. Here are some example notes from other users,” and maybe they could give you some examples of texts that people have used in the past that people have submitted to the Fabulous community. That would be kind of cool. But instead, there’s a little bit of a bait and switch happening here, which is that it felt like I was being asked to do another action, to take up another challenge. And instead, what they were doing is they’re just trying to wrangle me into spamming my friends for them just so they could get more downloads. This is horrible. This is just really bad in poor taste and just badly done. So I am going to close.
It’s possible that I misread the previous window, but at least that was the impression I got about what they wanted me to do and the purpose of that. Now we’re done here. So today is your day, Jason. Your action: put the bottle of water by your bedside. So I don’t think that this- I actually think this is like a pretty good idea. So they’re just trying to get you to make the behavior that they want you to do easier. So if your goal every day is drinking water as part of your morning routine, then yes, if you actually fill a bottle up with water, put it by your bedside, it’s just going to be easier upon waking to engage in that behavior.
“Tonight before sleeping, put the water bottle by your bedside to be sure you’ll drink water first thing in the morning. Jason, you can tap ‘Remind me’ to set up a reminder to yourself or tonight.” Cool. I think that’s a good idea. They should probably clarify that – fill up a bottle of water and place it by your bedside. They should probably add in that extra instruction to fill the bottle of water up or something. I’m sure that most people will do that anyway, but it wouldn’t hurt to at least state that element as well.
So here is my plan for today: letter number one, drink water and put the water bottle by my bedside. They also have other things I can do, such as focus coaching on how to handle costly interruptions. It looks like these are based on animated videos. There’s also a Discover section to find your Flow State motivation Booster journey, which is interesting. I think it’s pretty cool that they give you a clear roadmap and show you how far you are on the path. You can see that you’re already 3% of the way through and have completed one of the 27 things you’re supposed to do.
Overall, I think this app hasn’t done very many things well so far. The user experience is not great, and the science that the app is using isn’t all that impressive. They seem to be copying and pasting behavioral science tactics in a way that is awkward or doesn’t make sense for the behaviors they’re trying to encourage. I’m skeptical, and I think everyone should be skeptical of most social science and behavioral science research because it doesn’t have a great track record.
I don’t think there’s any compelling research showing that if someone follows through with a small, easy habit or forms small, easy habits, it will have a spillover effect or ripple effect through the rest of their lives. It’s an attractive idea, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen any believable or compelling research that really shows that. I should go back and search through the literature to see if there’s any good evidence showing that creating one habit makes creating other habits easier–that there is a snowball effect when you create one habit that makes it easier to create another habit, which then makes it easier to create yet another habit. But I think that the fundamental premise of this application may be flawed. Drinking water or doing something this small in general isn’t that compelling to people. I have a hard time imagining people coming back and doing this day after day and staying motivated by the small, tiny habits that the app is having them do.
Overall, there’s a lot that can be worked on here, especially in the onboarding process. There are some core elements of the app itself and the way it’s structured that need to be improved. The world is hungry for behavioral science content and help, and I think this application is taking advantage of that. It’s capitalizing on the modern obsession with behavioral science and the idea that there’s a science that can reliably help people change their behavior and lives.
However, based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think using this application will have a big impact on changing people’s behavior. The onboarding flow of the app is long and bad enough that most people who aren’t incredibly motivated to change their lives or form new habits will get filtered out during the process. The people who actually make their way into the app and use it are the most motivated people who are hungry for personal change and self-help.
The application is filtering out everybody who’s not very motivated and just letting in the most motivated people. Then, it’s throwing what I think are fairly ineffective behavioral science tactics at them and taking credit for their change. The high motivation levels of the people that make their way through the onboarding process caused change, not the app.
That’s my initial take on what’s happening here. I can do future videos looking at other aspects of the app or the day-to-day experience. Thanks so much.