The behavior-design checklist

The behavior-design checklist

I want to answer the most common question I get:

“What should I read to get started in behavior design?”

I don’t want to write out a big list of books and articles, though.

Instead, I’m going to teach you the simplest behavior design process there is.

By the end of this email you’ll be able to do some basic behavior-design work, and troubleshoot any behavior problems you encounter.


OK–here it goes.

Whenever you’re trying to change a behavior, you should ask yourself the following four questions:

1. Am I clearly prompting the target person to do the behavior I want?

2. Is the behavior really hard to do?

3. Is the target person motivated to do the behavior I want them to do?

4. Am I rewarding the target person for doing the behavior?

That’s it.

That’s your behavior-design checklist.

Each time you’re trying to figure out why a behavior isn’t occurring, go down the list.

1. Are you clearly prompting them to do the behavior?

If so, go on to the next item.

2. Have you made the behavior as easy as possible?

If so, go on to the next item.

3. Have you picked the right behavior for the target user? Is it something that your target user finds fun & compelling?

If so, go on to the next item.

4. Are you rewarding the target user for doing what you want them to do?

This last item is important for habit formation, since habits are merely behaviors that have successfully solved problems you’ve encountered. You can think of a reward as a “success signal”–a clear indicator that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.

Examples include: the sight of your basketball going through the hoop, money, points in a video game, praise from a stranger (or a friend), etc.

These are all forms of positive feedback. They’re all signs that you’ve successfully achieved your aims.

Voila! That’s it.

Any questions? No? Didn’t think so. It’s all pretty simple.

Please go forth and crush it!