Struggling to design impactful user interfaces that drive conversions? Perhaps your leads are getting stuck somewhere on the customer journey? Or maybe your new customers can’t seem to finish the onboarding process? The Fogg behavior model could be the key you’re missing.

This model can help you understand why your customers aren’t taking action and how to design interfaces that encourage even the least motivated users to act.

What is the Fogg behavior model?

Coined by Dr. BJ Fogg, the Fogg model suggests that behavior is equal to motivation times ability times prompt (B=MAP). It’s when these three elements come together at the same time that action is most likely.

Understanding each of these elements can give customers the ability to act on desired behavior and create a smoother user experience.

Navigating constantly changing customer needs
How important is it to maintain a constant connection with your customers? We sat down with Rick Kelly, Fuel Cycle, to find out. Rick took us through his inspirational journey in product. Here’s the highlights from the Q&A.


If you had no motivation to read this article it would be a very difficult task and you likely wouldn’t have made it this far. Your customers are the same - if they aren’t motivated to act they probably won’t.

The Fogg model specifies three types of motivation (often referred to as the core motivators) that can be engaged to help motivate consumers. But this is relatively difficult so other ways of giving customers that push to take action could be more effective.


Sensation refers to pleasure and pain - people are more motivated to do things they enjoy than things they hate. Ensuring that your desired action brings pleasure to your customers (or resolves a pain point) can be a first step in engaging them in action.


Anticipation is the pondering of the outcome, that is hope (for a good outcome) or fear (of a bad outcome). This tends to be a more powerful motivator than sensation. Your customers may be hopeful that purchasing your product will solve their problem, or fearful that they might miss your event without newsletters reminding them. Either way, they are motivated to take action!


And if neither of the above are helping to motivate your customers, maybe belonging is what’s missing? Belonging is all about social acceptance or rejection. Maybe the motivation they need to join your course can be achieved by asking them to join your community first. Your customers want to do what gains them social acceptance - so show them what other people do/think!

Riding the motivation wave

Often motivation comes and goes in waves, make sure to ride the wave.

When your customers are super motivated you can help them to succeed by helping them build habits for when their motivation dips. Fogg calls this ‘facilitating behavior change’ and has three tips for how to do it.

  • Tip 1 - Get users to do hard things that help to structure future behavior.
  • Tip 2 - Get customers to do something hard that makes a future task easier in the future.
  • Tip 3 - Help people get better at a difficult task, so it becomes easier.


In Fogg’s model ability is not simply skill level - it’s the level of available resources a customer can put towards the desired action.

“Simplicity is a function of your scariest resource at the moment.” - Fogg

For example, if a customer was unemployed and wanted to take an online course they may have all the motivation and time to do it, but they may have limited funds so won’t buy the premium course. But when they, say, win the lottery they will be more able to buy the premium course.

Therefore, understanding your customers' resources and adapting to them can help you to drive desired actions and conversions.


Many different resource factors can be stopping your customers from taking the desired actions - here are a few key resource categories.

  • Time - Your users may struggle to find an hour to watch your video all at once - but if it’s broken into smaller 5-10 minute chunks, they'll be more likely to complete the task over a period of time..
  • Money - The task required should be within the financial range of the target customer, otherwise this is not an easy task.
  • Physical effort - How much effort goes into the action? Is it just one click on their phone or do they need to go load up their laptop, then the website, then take the action?
  • Mental effort - Similar to the above but more about the mental load of the task. Do they have to remember to do something later? They probably won’t.
  • Routine - Your customers may struggle to do something they don’t normally do. Trying to integrate your actions into their routine will increase their ability.
  • Social deviance - People like to be comfortable socially, if your action is outside of their social norm it will be challenging to do.

Paths to increased ability

Increasing customers' abilities is much easier than increasing their motivation. There are a few different ways to do this depending on your resources.

By training your customers the action becomes easier to do and therefore more likely to be completed. This is the most labor-intensive method of increasing ability but is likely the most effective.

Another way to increase your customers’ ability is by providing tools or resources to help them get better at the task gradually. An informative blog post or a new tool for your product could be what your customer needs to have the ability to take action.

Or the problem could be you, not them! Try scaling back your target behavior to a more basic step that is easier for your customers to complete. You could even break up your current target behavior into 2-3 smaller steps.

Basically, when it comes to ability - keep it simple!


A prompt is a little reminder to take the desired action. This can also be referred to as a cue, trigger, CTA or request. Without a prompt, action won’t happen! But the prompt should be well planned to match up with when your customer is most likely to act.

Prompts can also be used to create a series of actions!

Types of prompt

There are a few different types of prompts - each designed for slightly different scenarios - understanding the differences can help you choose the right tool for the job!

  • Facilitator - When customers have high levels of motivation but low levels of ability you can help them out by using a prompt to facilitate action. For example, sending customers small tasks that help give them direction.
  • Spark - What if your customers have the ability but no motivation to do the task? You give them a spark! A spark is a prompt that gives the customer a little boost of motivation to get them started. For example, getting them excited about trying a new feature.
  • Signal - Your customer has the motivation and the ability but still isn’t acting? Maybe they just need the signal to get started. Give them a nudge to remind them what their next action should be!
Product + Communication = Enhanced Customer Experience
Ana Andres del Valle, Principal Solutions Architect at Twilio, preaches the power of communication. She maintains that products are becoming less and less about what they are, but more about the experience that they enable. Communication stands at the heart of this enablement.

Using the Fogg model for conversions

The Fogg behavior model is a great way to drive conversions since you are looking for customers to change their behavior. This can lead to you hitting your conversion goals in no time!

Educate customers

Let customers know why taking that next step is worthwhile. Whether you want them to sign up to your email list or make a purchase, your customer wants to know why that benefits them. Letting them know why your product benefits your customer will keep them motivated to take that next step!

Don’t ask too much

Make sure each conversion step is as simple as possible to ensure that your customers can complete the conversion. You should also try to avoid any barriers or extra steps as this may become too much for your customer. There’s nothing worse than a customer almost acting then leaving the page without completing the action!

Using the Fogg model for onboarding

You can easily use the Fogg model to change user behavior during the onboarding process too! This can increase the number of customers who complete the onboarding process and those who continue to use the product after onboarding.

Keep users engaged

Most user interfaces tell customers what each feature does but not why that feature is important. This can lead to users disengaging with your product. To re-engage and motivate your users, try telling them the importance of each feature. This makes them feel like they are doing something important and worthwhile - keeping them motivated for longer!

Onboard in a straight line

Having lots of different pop-ups and messages can leave customers confused, demotivated and with a high cognitive load. Using a linear onboarding process can help users to make sense of the process without being overwhelmed.

Here are a few more ideas for keeping onboarding straightforward.

  • Order tasks from easiest to most difficult.
  • Break large tasks up into smaller tasks.
  • Remove any unnecessary steps in the onboarding process.

Prompts are your friend

Getting people to use your product isn’t always the hardest part - sometimes getting customers to keep using your product is the struggle.

Sending well timed prompts can allow you to keep reminding customers to use your product and or new feature until it is adopted into their daily routine. This can help you stay top of mind while your product is still new to your recently onboarded customers.

The Importance of empathy: why we need it and how to get better at It
In product management, we talk frequently about empathy. But do we really understand it? It is essential for our roles as product managers and designers, but how can we ensure we’re not only empathetic, but getting better at understanding and empathizing with our users?

Tips for using the Fogg behavioral model

Here are a few bonus tips for making use of the Fogg behavior model.

  • Define desired behavior - Before you get started make sure to define exactly what your desired customer behavior is and the steps in that process.
  • Give meaning - Ensure that you give meaning to your customers - they want to feel like they are part of something big and meaningful!
  • Provide a small step - Remember that the best way to change behavior is to start small.

Final thoughts

The Fogg behavior model can be a powerful tool in helping you to understand your users and change their behavior to help your conversion rates or onboarding process. Ensuring you target your customers at the right time with a simple action will help to motivate them to act.

Have you got more insights you'd like to share on understanding your users? Continue the conversation by joining the PLA Slack Community!