Habit Summit Notes

Had the opportunity to attend Habit Summit this week. Here are a few notes:

Roger Dooley (dooleydirect.com) – Habit, persuasion, and neuromarketing
– Predicts use of wearables to be used to gauge biometrics in user testing studies (interesting thought)

Kintan Brahmbhatt (kintya.com) – Amazon Music (reducing friction to increase engagement)
– Lamborghini story. Got remote control car as kid – no batteries. Friction killed the experience.
– Friction stops users from completing their task.
– It’s up to us as product designers to identify that friction, and reduce or eliminate it.
– Dining experience – great food, fantastic food – but check came 20min late. Just remembered that the check was late.
– Moments of disappointment have more weight on recall
– Reducing friction helps make a product more usable
– What causes friction:

1) avoidable effort
– FireTV example – voice search for TV & movie programming vs. typing in on awkward alphabetical (vs. QWERTY) on screen keyboard.

2) anticipate and avoid unnatural context switching
– Example where while watching a movie or TV show, you can pause the show, and see which actors are on the screen.
– Example where you’re watching a TV episode, you can pause the screen, tap on a character, and read the back story of that specific user up to that point in the series.
– Example, dictionary definitions built into Kindle, but also have a setting called “word-wise” where explanations for complex terms will be automatically be shown (for beginning readers).

3) Remove need to make choices
– Example with Amazon is 1-click
– Example – Amazon Fresh – makes it easy to select from past purchases

Bo Ren (Instagram) – Designing products for behavioral change
– How people see themselves – comparing to others can be extremely motivational.
– Example of door hanger experiment where they went around to neighborhoods and hung 4 diff door flyers. 1 based on saving money, one on environment, one on civic duty, one on comparing you to neighbors. The one comparing to neighbors was the only one that caused a decrease in energy usage (by 6%).

Ximena Vengoechea (Twitter) – designing people first
– Getting to know your users
– Please test assumptions before you build, let alone ship a product
– Switch from product first, to people first design
– Strategies to think like regular people, not product people:

1) Identify feelings
– What emotions are you designing for?
– How do they feel when they open my app?
– How do they feel when they close it?
– How do they feel about your competitors
– Way to test – Home screen test (what emotion do you feel)
– if you can identify the feeling, you can identify the relief

2) Consider context
– What’s my users current context?
– You have to consider urgency, state of mind
– Use whatever data you can to help inform context – get creative

3) Understand motivations
– What is my users happiness dependent upon?
– Then design a path to that.
– introvert vs extrovert

4) Get to know their values
– What is my users world view?

Ryan Hoover (Product Hunt) – The building blocks of community
– lot’s of good ideas in his slides
– 3 stages of community:

1) Friends, and friends of friends
– Good place to start a community
– Start with the people you’re most connected to

2) downhill effect – collection of people around similar interest
– Product hunt is that
– Hacker News
– Dribbble

3) platform
– Reddit

Nathalie Nahai (author) – 5 tricks to Persuasive Product Design
1) Endowed progress
– Start funnel progress off on 1, not 0
– Example carwash – Card passed out with 10 circles, and 2 stamped vs 8 circles no stamps – One with 2 stamps had much higher usage rate.
– Increases conversions
– Decreases completion time
– Losses are felt greater than gains (no matter how small the loss)

2) Sunk costs fallacy
– Once we put effort in, we hate giving up on that effort. We feel compelled to continue

3) Appointment dynamic
– They’ve spent time/invested (sunk cost), now schedule a time for them to come back
– Have to know what motivates your users
– Give them relevant initial progress
– use to create a path for them to follow

4) Opportunity cost
– Three main costs
A) Attention – acceptance, belonging, social validation (why Facebook and twitter are so successful)
B) Time – alone, bored/killing time, when waiting
C) Money – fun pain – make it hard, make the time it takes to complete great – then make it easy for them to pay to skip all of that. Adding a intermediate currency, cloaking the perceived cost. Allow people to earn currency. Offer bulk discounts

John Egan (Pinterest) – Measuring for engagement
– R&R team (retention & resurrection)

1) Activation
– Communicating the value of your product is key
– Retained MAU’s
– 30 day window – too long – 1d7’s percentage of users that come back at least once in the first week, high correlation with retained MAU’s and long-term retention
– cohort heat maps – shows how new user retention curve is changing over time

2) Engagement
– Finding your key engagement metric:
a) What action does a user need to take to get value form the product?
b) What is the minimum frequency that someone needs to use our product?
– Classify users into states
a) Core, casual, marginal
b) New, dormant, resurrected

3) Retention & Resurrection
– Each email must raise engagement, or get’s dropped
– look at negative signals – app deletion, spam reports, unsubscribes

Tristan Harris (How to measure success on time spent well)
– After a better web
– One with better motives – not just about money
– Organic type initiative, but for the web

Jake Knapp & Daniel Burka (Google Ventures) – 5 day idea sprint
– Story about Nintendo – Rented for 4 days from friend, and decided to was too addicting
– Startups today – MVP, launch, get feedback, iterate/pivot
– Anther approach – 5 day design sprint – focus is on learning
– Lot’s of details here: http://www.gv.com/sprint/
– Super entertaining presentation

Remembering to separate proposed solutions from insights & observations

A couple weeks ago I listed out a bunch of activities designers can use to reduce time to clarity.

Upon completing one of these activities I’ll generally report back to my team to recap everything that I’ve observed. This can be a really valuable step in the design process, for a couple of reasons:

A) By itemizing everything, I’m able to better mentally process what I’ve observed.
B) Other people on my team may end up seeing patterns that I didn’t see.
C) Everyone on my team will have the chance to learn (which is really the main goal of these activities)
D) By reporting back, I can help everyone on my team better understand the thought process behind my designs.

A quick word of caution

One pitfall I commonly find myself falling into is my tendency to mix “proposed solutions” in with my recap of insights & observations.

It’s easy to do.

But doing so can easily derail everything.

Why is that?

By mixing solutions in with observations, I’m essentially mixing biased ideas in with relatively unbiased insights. This just increases the chance for:

– disagreements (the focus of these recaps should be on the observations – on what I learned – ideally this should lead to very few disagreements)
– “rabbit hole” discussions that steal the focus of the thread
– my unbiased insights being ignored, or even dismissed completely

One easy solution

Why not just separate the two out completely?

1) Post my insights and observations, being careful not to mix in any proposed solutions.
2) Then as a threaded reply to that main post, go ahead and list out any solutions that I came up with.

By compartmentalizing the two, I can help keep the primary focus of the discussion on the insights & observations. Teammates are then free to pick and choose which discussions they want to participate in, be that:

– insights and observations
– proposed solutions
– or both

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The future is bright

This morning while I was sketching out some rough user interface ideas, my 6 year old daughter came up behind me and asked,

“What is that?”

I said,

“These are ideas for a user interface.”

She then asked,

“What do you do with it?”

I then explained that,

“any one of these could then be coded up and people could use them on the internet.”

Fast forward an hour…

As I’m heading out to my office she comes up to me with this:

My jaw dropped… as I said,

“Wow, honey what is this?”

She said,

“It’s an interface that I designed. I want you to help me put it on the internet.”

I just stared in amazement.

At which point she immediately started walking me through the entire app (paper prototype style), telling me how you’d “click here to add things”, and “click here to save”…

She’s six.

She’s never done this before, I’ve never even really talked with her in detail about what daddy does for work. But she just gets it.

Needless to say, I was awestruck.

Anyhoo… Thanks for letting me show off my amazingly talented little girl. Not that I had any concerns before, but now I know for sure, the future is definitely bright.

Startup Idea – Gym of the future

I’d love to see someone get creative and disrupt the gym industry. It currently feels so stale. There doesn’t seem to be any creativity or innovation at all.

The Market

With a quick Google search I saw varied reports of the gym market being a $21.8 billion market, all the way up to it being a $78.2 billion market. In any case it’s sizable. There’s value to be delivered there, and ultimately money to be made.

How might someone disrupt this stagnant industry? Here’s my take:

Get creative with facilities

Instead of going with boring old rows of treadmills, and rows of elliptical machines, and small pocket of free weights route, why not mix it up?

I’d look around for some old abandoned supermarket/strip mall real estate. The inside of an old supermarket gives you quite a bit of room to play with.

I’d fill the space with an assortment of different sections. Of course there’d be an aerobic section, and a free weights section, but there would also be a small section for crossfit, and a small section for parkour, there would be a small bouldering/rock climbing section, in addition to multiple smaller yoga/pilate/dance rooms.

The idea here: attract a larger cross-section of customers than your typical gym.

I’d also figure out a way to keep the place open 24 hours a day (not novel these days, but important enough to mention).

Get creative with pricing

Every gym I’ve ever looked at has the exact same strategy when it comes to pricing. This is a huge opportunity for someone to come along and quickly differentiate themselves. Gyms know that for the vast majority of their customers, joining a gym is an idealistic impulse buy. They bank on it, and they price their services accordingly. Generally this involves yearly contracts, with penalties for breaking them early.

Here’s what I’d charge:

$5/visit, for the first 5 visits, then free for the rest of the month.

A couple of thoughts:

– Immediately your gym caters to a long tail of users who would otherwise never step foot in a gym. This long tail of customers knows that they’d never benefit enough from a monthly membership subscription to make it pay off, so they never go to a gym. But with pay as you go pricing that all changes. They could come once a month, and pay just $5.
– The $25/mo ceiling sets people at ease. Every trip they make to the gym after the first 5 visits makes them feel like they are cheating the system somehow. Like they’re sticking it to the gym owner.
– Occasionally I’d enjoy working out with friends. This almost never works in practice though as it requires two people to be members in the same gym. With pay as you go pricing, working out with a friend becomes something you can do without much thought at all. All you have to do is arrange a time.

Get creative with onboarding

I’d rather get a root canal on multiple teeth than be forced to deal with having to sign up for most gym memberships. The experience is down right awful!

Not a lot would have to be done to make it even slightly better, but what if we shot for the moon? Here’s my thinking:

What if the entire process was self service, and what if signing up took less than a minute?

You walk in the door and immediately see a number of self serve stations. You step up to one. Pricing is clearly visible. A screen asks you to swipe your card. You do so. If this is your first visit, it asks for your email address (and that’s it). You’re done. You see a big welcome screen that says “enjoy your workout”.

At this point, your mind is kinda blown. This is remarkable enough of an experience that you feel like telling everyone you know.

What about fraud, you say?

What if someone comes in with another persons credit card who has already paid for 5 visits this month? That’s where a little technology under the hood comes in handy.

Every self serve station has mat, that while you’re swiping your card weighs you. A photo is also snapped every time you swipe your credit card. If someone comes in, swipes a credit card to trigger a free visit, and the weight is inconsistent with a range of weights for the card holders most recent visits, then an alert is sent to the iPhone of the attendant on hand showing the weight discrepancy, and headshot photos of the card holders last visit, along with this visit. The attendant can then “help” the customer set up a new profile for that credit card.

Get creative with retention

There’s loads you could do to introduce “runkeeper” like mechanics into a physical gym environment. You might also experiment with offering some sort of fitbit like tracking device for customers to use freely, helping them track activity within your gym. All of which you could make easy for people to share with their friends and family, and all of which you could use to generate triggers to help bring customers back regularly.

There’s the idea

Now someone go build it so I can give you my money.


I don’t do comments on this blog, but if you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them. You can email me at designpro@gmail.com.

A list of reasons why I’m a Mormon

First, a few disclaimers:

1. If this topic is of no interest to you, don’t read it.

This is my personal blog, The vast majority of posts that I write will tend to be about design and startups. Occasionally I’ll deviate to cover a topic that is as important, if not much more deeply important to me personally.

2. This post is meant to be 100% informational. My hope is:
A) That by the end of this post, Mormonism will seem like slightly less of a cultish mystery to you, and
B) That at a bare minimum, you’ll be able to at least say to yourself, “I honestly don’t believe anything that dude believes, but I now at least think I understand why Dave Martin is a Mormon”.

3. I posted a link to this article on FaceBook, as that is where all of my closest friends and family are. I didn’t tweet this post out. I didn’t push it to LinkedIn. I’m not preachy by nature. Not in person, not on this blog, not on FaceBook. For the most part, just know that unless you ask, I’m probably not going to bring up religion with you, ever.

4. I’m in no way perfect. Not even close. I fail, and make mistakes all the time. I don’t write any of the following to set myself up on a pedestal in any way.

5. My intention in writing this is not to persuade. I’m not trying to turn you into a Mormon by reading it. Whatever your beliefs or religious affiliations may or may not be, however you choose to live your life, whatever things you value, I love you as you are. For those of you who know me closely, I hope that this sentiment comes through as genuine.

There’s a lot to cover. I’ll do my best to keep everything as concise as possible.

Here are the reasons why I’m a Mormon, ranked in order of importance (to me):


Our official church name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That’s a mouthful, so most people just call us LDS (Latter Day Saints), or Mormon for short.

Our religion is 100% centered around Jesus Christ, his ministry on earth, his atonement and resurrection, and his ministry in these latter days.

Christ stands at the center of our religion. Without him, I believe that quite literally I’d be lost.


Life on earth can be lonely. It can be scary. It can be tough. Christ’s love helps me feel at peace, in both the good times, as well as the bad.

I pray for this peace daily, and find refuge regularly in the comfort it brings.


Some trials in life feel too great for me to bear alone. In Christ I am strengthened. He helps shoulder my burdens. He’ll also help me turn my weaknesses into strengths.

I’ve witnessed this strengthening effect in my life numerous times.


The world can be a dark place. I’m mortal. I make mistakes. No matter how good of a person I am, while on this earth, I’m not immune to temptation, which leads to sin, which leads to unhappiness.

After I was baptized, I received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which serves as a constant protection to me, as long as I’m worthy of it.

I receive additional protection (from temptation) by doing things that bring additional light into my life. Things like: fasting monthly, praying daily, reading scriptures daily, going to church weekly, and through regular temple service.


I was married to my wonderful wife in the Palmyra NY Temple. We were sealed for time and all eternity. Not just till death do us part. Our children are also sealed to us for eternity.

I take great comfort knowing that I can be with my amazing wife, and wonderful children forever.


Christ said, “Ask, and it shall be given you”. I take this quite literally. Whenever I am unsure about something, I:

A) think about the question myself
B) come to a decision on my own
C) seek conformation from God that my decision is according to his will

Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t.

I do this with bigger issues (should we move to a new house), as well as with smaller issues (how can I best solve this tiny problem). It’s like having a magic 8 ball that actually works. It’s pretty amazing.


The LDS Church is established the same way Christ’s church was established when he was on earth. We have a modern day Prophet. We have twelve Apostles.

Twice a year we have “General Conference”, giving us a chance to hear from our Prophet, Apostles, and other church leaders.

I consider this a great, and fairly unique blessing.


The LDS church is a lay-ministry. This means that no local or regional leaders are paid or compensated for their service. Additionally, no one vies for office. No one is voted in to a church calling. Service callings are always extended through inspiration.

My wife serves in the primary presidency in our local ward (“ward” is the term we use for our local congregation). She helps lead the youth. I serve as the Elders Quorum President of our ward. I minister to the middle aged brethren in our congregation.

On top of everything else in our busy lives, it can be hard at times. But it’s service, as such, it can be very, very rewarding.


With the restoration of the church in the 1830’s, came a restoration of the Aaronic, and Melchizedek Priesthoods. The same Priesthood that the Apostles of old used to bless the people of their time.

I’ve personally seen the priesthood work miracles in my life a number of times.


About seven years ago when my wife and I moved to The Sutherland Shire (just south of Sydney Australia) for work, all it took was a single visit to the local LDS branch, and we were accepted into the congregation immediately, like we were family.

This happens anywhere you move. The exact same thing happened when we then moved to North Carolina two years later.

The church is global, but it’s like one big family.


Having grown up in the church, I saw first-hand how much it shaped who I am today. The doctrine of the Mormon church is strict. I wasn’t always fond of that, but today (especially now that I have kids of my own) I absolutely see that as a good thing. It served as a spiritual anchor for me growing up, and I hope that it can provide the same solid foundation for my kids.


The Mormon church offers answers to many of lifes greatest questions. Questions like:

– Who am I?
– Where did I come from?
– What’s the secret to real happiness?
– Why do bad things happen to good people?
– What happens when I die?


I thrive when my life is in order – when things are organized. I can’t really think of any other organization (public, private, government, you name it) that is more organized than the Mormon church. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.


The church operates it’s own welfare system, both internally for members, and externally as humanitarian aid. My family was blessed multiple times by the church welfare system while I was growing up, as such it’s also been something that has meant a lot to me personally.


I’m Dave Martin.

I’m a husband

I’m a Father.

I’m the Creative Director at Automattic.

And I’m also a Mormon.

These are my personal beliefs.

Mormonism is tightly woven into who I am. It’s helped me become the person I am today, and it pushes me to always want to be better.

I don’t do comments on this blog, but if you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them. You can email me at designpro@gmail.com.