5 Step ‘Hook’ Framework to Design an Addictive Experience-Fashion Shopping App

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To thrive, an online fashion store business requires the customer to shop and then continue coming back for more. How can the experience be designed for higher customer adoption and retention so that the product becomes part of customer’s habitual behavior? Cultivating a habit of ‘always turning to the app for checking out latest trends and shopping’ is an effective way of getting there.

The hook model is a framework proposed by Nir Eyal that consists of 4 phases— Trigger, Action, Variable Rewards, and Investment. Let’s explore how to use this practical tool to create a habit-forming experience of online fashion shopping.

The first step is to figure out the internal trigger for a customer to go online shopping for fashion.

An internal trigger is a negative emotion or an ‘itch’ which is a minor discomfort below the perceptibility of consciousness — like boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion, indecisiveness, etc.

The trigger or ‘itch’ for a person looking to shop fashion online could be

  1. She may be seeking social acceptance: She may have an important event to attend and wants to create a good impression by dressing well.
  2. She may be bored: Bored with old clothes and mundane life in general, seeking the pleasure of new things and excitement.
  3. FOMO: She may have a fear of missing out on the latest fashion or deals

Once we figure out the ‘itch’ to scratch, let’s plan the external triggers to cue them to act.

An instagram/Facebook photo shared by a fashion blogger in her fashionista avatar sporting stylish clothes and a cute sling bag, tagging the online store could be an effective external trigger. The store can find social media influencers and work with them to create content across different media like instagram, Facebook or youtube to act as structured and systematic triggers.

A friend’s whats app ping about a trendy pair of shoes on sale from the fashion store would be another highly persuasive external triggers for action. This can be easily achieved if an option is given to the friend to avail discount on the shoe purchase by referring people.

For an online fashion app, user’s actions in different stages — before buying, buying and after buying are

  1. Browsing through the catalogue,
  2. Making a purchase and
  3. Tracking the order.

Let’s identify the action to be converted into the habit.

2 & 3 happen once in a while, but 1 is an action with the potential of becoming a habit. If the user browses through product list more often, the odds of ‘Making a Purchase’ might also increase and that would be beneficial for the business.

How to simplify browsing?

Apply the thumb rules of usability to design an interface simple to use. This is a vast topic and would need a separate article to cover the details. But for the time being, let’s consider a few general points in the context of simplifying the browsing experience.

Reduce visual work for the user by- following a clear visual hierarchy to make scanning easy, long content displayed as digestable chunks, layout design to support natural eye flow, clear Calls-to-Action, etc.

Reduce intellectual work by-clear and meaningful labelling of navigation, clear visual affordances (Buttons looking clickable, meaningful icons etc), contextual content, effective system feedback(loading indicator if there is a delay in loading), show related products/styles etc

Now that the browsing is effortless, let’s move to the next phase of Hook model- rewarding users.

Understanding what truly matters to the user is paramount importance while planning rewards. Rewards should be designed to satisfy user’s intrinsic triggers identified in step 1. Consider the 2nd and 3rd intrinsic triggers identified- She may be bored and seeking excitement or she may not want to miss out on the latest fashion & deals.

Nir Eyal proposes 3 kinds of rewards

  1. Rewards of the tribe: Our brains are adapted to seek rewards that make us feel accepted, attractive, important and included
  2. Rewards of the hunt: Millions of years of hunter-gatherer lifestyle has left us humans with a mental hardwiring to hunt for material resources and information. We have an insatiable desire for new things.
  3. Rewards of the self: People desire to gain a sense of mastery, competence, and completion.

‘Reward of the hunt’ for browsing for a user who is seeking excitement & having FOMO, would be a home page feature about Rihanna’s latest red carpet look and fashion industry’s take on it. The story behind the choice of the fabric, the stitches & the neckline and how it is ideal for a sleek evening look. A button next to it to view and purchase similar clothes, accessories and make-up to create the look will cue the user about the next steps.

User feels like browsing more in search for the next exciting story or trending look to try at an upcoming party ( The 1st intrinsic trigger of seeking social acceptance).

The rule of reciprocation states that there is a universal tendency in human beings to feel compelled to repay or reciprocate when given a gift whether it has come in the form of a material object, a kind deed, or an act of generosity. Therefore, the investment phase comes after the variable reward phase, when users are primed to reciprocate.

So, if the user is prompted to provide her preferred style after going through the enticing story about Rihanna’s look and similar others, it is likely that she wouldn’t mind spending an extra minute to do that. This improves the browsing experience next time, by surfacing looks and products aligning with the user’s preferred style.

To summarize, the first ‘Hook’ circle designed includes

Trigger- Instagram post by an influencer

Action- Downloading the app and browsing

Variable Reward- Stories about celebrity looks (Reward of the hunt)

Investment- Choosing preferred style

Second Hook circle could be

Trigger- It could be an external trigger like A friend’s whats app ping about a trendy pair of shoes on sale from the fashion store. Or it could just be an internal trigger like the feeling of boredom

Action- More browsing

Variable Reward- A game of completing a look by selecting right accessories to an outfit (the reward of the self) combined with an option to upvote a look put together by another user ( reward of the tribe)

Investment- Discover popular stylists inside the app and follow them to get a more relevant and interesting look and product suggestions

So, the 2 hook circles designed will look like this.

By carefully designing more Hook circles, we can ensure user passes through them repeatedly to form a habit. The next time they get the itch(intrinsic trigger), they associate alleviating it by browsing through the app. Thus the app starts as a nice-to-have but once the habit is formed, it becomes a must-have.

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