Each day we make thousands of decisions. We choose what to make for dinner, what book to read, and whether we should get gas now or tomorrow. People have a lot on their minds, so influencing our users to engage in something new or motivate them to use our product isn’t easy. However, with “The Fogg Model of Human Behaviour”, we can better understand our users, how they make decisions, and how we can improve our overall user experiences by easing their mental loads.

“The Fogg Model of Human Behaviour” was developed by Dr. B.J. Fogg, a Stanford University professor who studies human behaviour. In his research, he found that there are three basic elements of human behaviour. For an action to take place, these three elements need to be present, and the level of motivation must be greater than the level of difficulty required by the task you’re asking someone to do. It looks something like this:

The Fogg Model of Human Behaviour

Motivation: Motivation is the desire to do something. When we’re sufficiently motivated, we’re more likely to take action.
Ability: This is how easy or difficult a task is to complete—the more challenging the task, the more motivation we need to trigger action.
Trigger: The prompt that causes us to take action. Like a CTA button, email, or ad.

Sounds simple enough, right? So, let’s dive deeper into how we can apply these elements to our digital experiences and influence our user’s decisions and actions.


There are two types of motivation to consider when building an experience that will appeal to your audience. The first is extrinsic motivation, where behaviour comes from external rewards such as money, social statuses, grades, and praise. This type of motivation works by having a reward and penalty system. A great example of this is Duolingo’s streak feature, where users earn points for using the app daily but lose their streak if they miss a day, starting them back at zero.

The second type is intrinsic motivation, where motivators come from within and contribute to one’s self-concept. With this type of motivation, people engage or take action because they enjoy it and get personal satisfaction. To use this type of motivator, you’ll need to tap into your audience’s human desires. These are things that drive our everyday actions. For example, perhaps your audience seeks romance and love, then a campaign built around tranquillity and fantasy would be more enticing than a basic corporate ad.


Keeping things easy for our users probably sounds like a no brainer. Of course, people are more likely to take action when it requires minimal effort. However, there are some instances where that’s not possible, like a lengthy onboarding application that can’t be condensed. In situations like this, the best we can do is change the task’s perception. For example, you could do this by breaking the extensive onboarding application into smaller steps or using progressive disclosures to make the form seem easier. This might sound misleading or deceptive, but our perception is our reality.


Finally, consider when and where you place your trigger to encourage your users to take action. Make it obvious what you’re asking them to do and point to a specific action. A button labelled “Contact” vs. “Get in Touch” is clearer and more likely to convert. You’ll also want to make sure it’s noticeable because users won’t click what they can’t see! Lastly, strategically time when the trigger appears to your users. Just like you wouldn’t propose on a first date, don’t ask your user to take action too early. Wait until they’re ready. Avoid coming on too strong by getting them fully motivated before pulling the trigger!

Improve your user experience

Overall the key to using “The Fogg Model of Human Behaviour” is balancing these three elements the best you can. They won’t all perfectly align, but taking them into consideration and understanding how our users make decisions can help us make more enjoyable and successful digital experiences.