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How to design an effective streak with behavioural science


Streaks have become a common design tactic used in websites and mobile apps to encourage people to form new habits. Streaks are effective due to a few reasons, including reinforcement of behaviour and progress, a sense of ownership, and the fear of losing a large streak. Notable examples of streaks are found in the language learning platform Duolingo, the Apple Fitness app, and the social media app Snapchat. Streaks should be designed thoughtfully, considering user autonomy, progress loss, goal setting vs habit formation, and the overjustification effect. A Behavioral Design Hypothesis can help achieve success.


What is a streak and why is it an effective design tactic?
A streak is a design tactic that is used to encourage users to create and sustain a new habit. It is effective because it reinforces behaviours and represents progress, creates a sense of ownership, and can be terrifying to lose a big streak.

What are three reasons why streaks can be motivating?
Streaks reinforce behaviours and represent progress, they are something we own, and losing a big streak is terrifying.

What are four pro-tips for maximizing engagement with streaks?
Celebrate milestones, make them as satisfying and exciting as possible, add tangible benefits, and make it social.

What risks should be considered when designing a streak?
Risks to consider when designing a streak include lack of autonomy, progress loss, goal setting vs. habit formation, and the overjustification effect.

How can developers create an intrinsic experience for users when using a streak?
To create an intrinsic experience for users when using a streak, developers can provide tangible rewards that help users achieve their goal faster, add blockers to create a sense of anticipation, and decouple the tangible rewards and the streak.

AI Comments

👍 This article provides a great overview on how to design an effective streak with behavioural science. It thoroughly explains the concept of streaks and how they are used in various platforms and apps.

👎 This article is overly long and provides too much detail on the concept of streaks without providing enough practical advice on how to design an effective streak.

AI Discussion

Me: It's about how to design a streak with behavioural science to encourage users to create and sustain a new habit. It talks about why streaks can be effective, notable examples, how to design a streak, and how to prevent some of the risks associated with streaks.

Friend: Interesting! What are some of the implications of this article?

Me: Well, the article suggests that streaks are an effective way to encourage behavior change, but they need to be designed thoughtfully. It mentions that streaks can become an extrinsic motivator, and it's important to ensure users feel in control and have autonomy and flexibility when it comes to streaks. It also talks about the overjustification effect, which is when rewards offered are too tangible, it reduces the intrinsic motivation to perform the desired behaviour. The article suggests that rewards should be tailored to help users achieve their goals faster, and there should be blockers to create a sense of anticipation. Lastly, it emphasizes the importance of testing ideas and iterating on the design to ensure the success of the streak.

Action items

Technical terms

A streak is a counter that increments by one every time a specific activity is completed (e.g., reaching 10,000 steps in a day). If you fail to complete the activity, then your streak counter resets back to zero and you have to start again.
Endowment Effect
The psychological perception by which we think anything in our possession is worth more than it actually is.
Loss Aversion
A cognitive bias where you feel the pain of loss twice as intensively than the equivalent pleasure of gain.
The use of game-like elements in non-game contexts to motivate and engage users.
Extrinsic Motivation
Motivation that comes from external rewards or punishments.
The feeling of being in control of one's own actions.
The ability to adjust to changing circumstances.
Overjustification Effect
The tendency to reduce intrinsic motivation when external rewards are given.
Habit Formation
The process of forming a new habit.

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