How To Use Behavioral Design to Drive User Engagement in Your SaaS Product

Design impacts behavior. If you know how to impact behavior, you can design for behavior.

Dr. BJ Fogg founded the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, and has done a fantastic research on behavioral design.

🧠 Behavioral design is where psychology and technology meet – a systematic way to influence a desired behavior, one step at a time.

His model for driving behavioral changes – called The Fogg Behavior Model – explains that THREE ELEMENTS must happen at the same time for a behavior to occur:

  • ⚑️ Motivation

  • πŸ‘ Ability

  • πŸ₯• Trigger

When a behavior does not occur, at least ONE OF THOSE three elements is missing.

BJ Fogg behavior model.

BJ Fogg behavior model.

Bottom line is this:

Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Trigger.

πŸ“Œ If you have HIGH motivation but LOW ability (difficult to do), what you’ll get is FRUSTRATION.

πŸ“Œ If it’s LOW motivation, but EASY to do (e.g. take out the trash), you get annoyance.

Using this model as a guide, you can identify what stops people from taking the desired actions. For example, if users are not requesting quotes on your website, the model helps us evaluate what psychological element is lacking.


A desired behavior takes place when MOTIVATION, ABILITY and TRIGGER are all happen at the same time.

In order to BOOST USER ENGAGEMENT you need to:

  • Tap into the right motivators

  • Understand the types of motivation

  • Make taking action super easy

  • Focus on simplifying UI/UX

  • Place triggers on the path of motivated people

...and generally obsess about triggers like your business depended on it.