Streaks are a powerful technique for developers to increase user retention and engagement. For example, Snapchat shows you the number of consecutive days you’ve been exchanging messages with a friend and rewards you with special emojis the longer you manage to keep the streak alive.
The user’s urge to continue the streak doesn’t really come from the positive rewards though, but is mainly based on negative reinforcement, namely the fear of losing the streak. This behaviour can be attributed to the “Sunk Cost Effect”, which describes our reluctance to pull out of something we have put effort into.
There has been a lot of criticism lately about negative reinforcement loops and gamification techniques that make apps more addictive – especially when used by services or games which are primarily used by kids/teens.
But streaks can also be extremely helpful when used in the context of self-improvement because they help to build habits.
I currently use three tools that use streaks which help me to build (and maintain) habits and be more productive:
Headspace will show you the number of consecutive days you’ve been meditating. Making meditation a daily habit has been super difficult for me and the streaks have definitely helped. I wish they were more public though to add some social pressure.
This one might be a little suprising to some of you, because most people just use Swarm as a life logging tool to remember which places the have visited. Swarm introduced streaks a while ago, but I’m not sure how many people use it build habits. I use to make sure I go for a swim at least once per week. I am currently at week 73 and counting 💪.
• WIP Chat
WIP is a community of makers and a public to-do list at the same time. Apart from the negative reinforcement (losing the streak), it also adds a lot of positive reinforcement in form of the encouragement from other makers in the community. WIP is one of the best products I’ve started using recently and has definitely helped me to be more productive. Great job, Marc! 👏