1% everyday: Compelling a habit through streaks

We are busy people.

Learning a new behavior requires making something a habit.

It is so easy to start something then just not come back to it because more immediate/important things come along.

Using a little psychology, designers have come up with the idea of using “Streaks” to artificially draw you back to their app.

The learning app Duolingo does this to encourage you to learn a new language … something that we can all agree needs regular practice.

  • The streak is held by doing 1 assignment everyday
  • If you miss a day your streak is broken

Here is an article by Janine Dela Cruz. https://uxdesign.cc/3-reframing-streaks-on-duolingo-5-ideas-for-a-more-healthy-and-flexible-approach-to-language-8fd89545771e

She identifies this “streak” feature as a problem:

“I was absolutely gutted when I accidentally lost my streak at 248 days when things became more hectic with job applications. When I was sulking about my lost streak, I desperately turned to Reddit and Twitter to find if there were ways to get back my streak without having to pay for gems. Amidst my research, I found a large number of people who felt disappointed about losing their streak, with quite a few comments saying they wanted to ‘graduate’ from using Duolingo.”

Cruz did a bit of thinking to come up with these 5 changes to the feature:

1. Changing how streaks are measured

2. Promoting healthy breaks

3. The five-minute rule

4. Reframing the moment of a streak loss

5. Don’t remind learners of their failure

Consider the following:

  • Do you think about the consequences of your designs as you are executing them?
  • What are the psychological implications of these digital tethering devices like streaks, notifications, badges, network peer pressure?
  • Does the solutions Cruz offer alleviate the streak feature impact on people’s psychology/stress? Or does it just shift it somewhere else?

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