WordPress continues its climb as the leading free CMS on the Web today as outlined by Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg in his keynote address at this past weekend’s WordCamp San Francisco conference. Mullenweg says that the blogging platform is now powering 18.9 percent of the Web, a 2.2 point increase from 2012. WordPress’s evolution as a CMS will continue to be influenced by the habits of its users and developers. Matt made mention of the T.A.R.I phenomenon. T.A.R.I. is a theory outlined by Nir Eyal, author, speaker, and consultant, who provided a most stimulating presentation at WordPress Camp 2012 on the subject of how to automate the habits of customers.
Matt began by referencing the Indiana University study published last year that showed 89% of the 290 undergraduates sampled experience a phantom vibration and they experienced them about once every two weeks, on average. The findings suggested “that targeting individuals’ emotional reactions to text messages might be helpful in combating the negative consequences of both text message dependency and phantom vibrations.” The studies have gone so far as to pick out two personality traits that correlate with these factors: extraversion and neuroticism. Extraverts tend to check their phones more because because staying in touch with friends is a big part of their lives. Neurotics worry more about the status of their relationships—while they may not get as many text messages, they care a lot about what they say.
Trigger, Action, Reward, & Investment
T.A.R.I. stands for trigger, action, reward, and investment. A trigger can be external, like a phone buzzing, or receiving a text message or email notification. An internal trigger is an emotional feeling, a state of being similar to being bored, lonely, or hungry. A trigger causes an action. For example, if you’re lonely, you might hop on Facebook. The more emotional significance you attach to whatever is causing your trigger, say your phone buzzing, the more likely you are to experience it. Hence the Indiana University study showing how students can feel a trigger happening even if it hasn’t happened. When a trigger hits you, it’s akin to dopamine instantly rewarding you. But it’s the anticipation of the reward that kicks off the dopamine to begin with. When you actually receive the reward our dopamine levels drop off and we are not left as satiated. Investment is an attribute that nearly everyone aspires towards. It is about making something your own. When you work on a project you are far more attached to it. Although we tend to overvalue our own work in comparison to how the rest of the world views it. Rewards are most effective when they are intermittent.
For Mullenweg, its the habits, loops, and triggers that all WordPress users fall under, in one way or another. What are hooks for them? How can WordPress hook a user? Have an idea, that’s a trigger. You publish and then you get feedback, that’s the reward. Investment is the time you put into it. Constraints breed creativity. The reader, stats, ego feeder, notifications, these are all triggers, and as these features get better, users of WP will grow exponentially. Mullenweg says that he’s seeing the evolution of the blogging platform change from simply being about posting thoughts, but moving to being a CMS and ultimately an app platform.
B.J. Fogg discusses hot triggers
I interviewed B.J. Fogg back in 2011 about his behavior model. BJ Fogg believes that companies must put hot triggers in the path of motivated people in order to effectively compete in the consumer space. BJ studies the growth of Facebook and how the application uses triggers to influence the behavior of its users. BJ also discusses the impact of mobile on society and how it will become the dominant tool to influence human behavior.