The Five Stages of Processing Before Users Act
- Conscious actions pass through a number of stages before execution: cue, reaction, evaluation, ability, and timeliness.
- All five of these actions must occur at the same time.
- No one wants to retire poor, yet we don’t save.
Step 1: Detect a Cue
- The buzz of a cell phone. No one stares at their phone and waits for a TXT message.
- Does your application appropriately cue users?
Step 2: React Intuitively, Emotionally
- We have an immediate, intuitive reaction to cues. We can’t help this.
- HelloWallet presents budgeting as a “Wellness Score.”
Step 3: Conscious Evaluation
- What are the costs and benefits associated with taking this action?
Step 4: Ability
- Does the user know what to do? Can they do it? Do they believe they can succeed?
- 500px’s iOS app onboarding process explains the basics of the app to new users.
Step 5: Timeliness
Jim Rohn: “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses it’s value.”
- Is the action urgent? Is it urgent relative to other external factors that may require action?
- The Washington Post’s homepage relies on inherent urgency. News stories tend to disappear over time.
- Twitter created inherent urgency. Tweets remain available but the sense is that they won’t be.
Techcrunch has built a strong cue between themselves and technology news. Someone mentions a new tech gadget, your brain immediately thinks to visit Techcrunch’s website. News websites prey on user’s Fear of Missing Out.
The benefit is knowledge, being a part of hype, exclusivity. The cost is time. Benefit generally outweighs the cost.
The five steps are a checklist for a product.
How to Improve Your Users’ Likelihood of Voluntary Action
- The actions are a funnel, starting with the cue.
CREATE: Cue, Reaction, Evaluation, Ability, Time Pressure, Execute Action
- A user could bail at any of these steps for various reasons.
- Knowing where your product goes wrong at any of these steps is key.
Three Strategies to Pass the Funnel
- Conscious choice.
- Build a habit through simple repetition.
- Cheat. Shift the burden of work from the individual to the product.
In the financial world, auto-enrollment in services is one of the most popular way to cheat. The power of defaulting.
Step 1: How to Cue
- Get in people’s line of sight.
- Become part of the environment.
- Become part of routines.
- Hook into stuff people already attend to.
- Avoid crowded places (like email).
Step 2: Pass the Emotional Test
- Don’t be ugly. Don’t make a painful, ugly product. Medium feels like a newspaper, not a “crappy old blog.” Hook into things people already love.
- Tailor to the user’s prior experiences.
Step 3: Provide Value
Step 4: How to Pass the Ability Test
- Show them how.
- Make them confident.
- Or, cheat.
Step 5: How to Pass the Timeliness Test
- Make it urgent. (e.g. The Rolly Clock)
- Make it specific.
- Ask users to pre-commit.
Specificity has a power that vagueness doesn’t.