Designing for Behavior Change, Book review


  • Author: Stephen Wendel
  • publisher: O’Reilly Media ( No Starch Press )
  • pages: 400


Designing for behavior written by Steve Wendel, is an excellent book guiding developers and entrepreneurs, managers in making behavior changing apps or webapps that really work.

The fact that the book takes a, practical approach based on academic literature and personal experiences of the author makes it valuable. Many of the experiences comes from his dayjob, Working as a Pricipal Scientist at HelloWallet, nevertheless most of the examples in the book are taken form a daily live perspective.

Decision process

The book gave me a clear insight and made me conscious about my and others brain and its decision process. And of course which steps should be taken to build an “habit” changing app. And more importantly how the app should tested, refined and reevaluated.

The book never leaves the main “brain decision flow”. The CREATE funnel

  • Cue: The user needs to think about something related to your product
  • Reaction: The mind reacts is the thought appealing enough to do something with it or does the user dislike the thought.
  • Evaluation. How much effort will the effort take and will I be rewarded
  • Ability. The person must actually be able to act some actions might not be possible driving a car for example, or doesn’t like to run in the rain when a fitness bracelet gives a notification
  • Time pressure. The user must have the time, or be pressurized enough to drop the current tasks or occupation.

This flow returns throughout the book and makes it sure that you never forget that there is a long process/ action sequence necessary before the user, will download your app. And if the app is downloaded, the sames CREATE sequence is necessary for the user to use your app to change behavior every time.

The book also makes it clear that most apps and webapps still have a difficulty to keep the main focus on the main task the app is for. This is a known lesson but forgotten easily through the lifetime of an app / webapp

One minor issue with the book is the localized content, for example using America’s pension/retirement fund 401k to illustrate principles. This makes it harder to understand for non americans.


Overall I surely can recommend this book, especially for developers who like to build ideas before they have given ideas a proper thought or dicussed them with others. Myself included 😉

The books product page

The Tangled Web, book review

Book cover of The tangled web

  • Author: Michal Zalewski
  • publisher: O’Reilly Media ( No Starch Press )
  • pages: 273


I liked the book, the book is thorough, on a tough subject. What I missed is a more practical approach of the secure web, almost all web developers are also intrigued by hackers. to my opinion hacking itself could make developers understanding the holes of the web more easily. I really would liked some more practical examples of websites and how to brake them.

The book is handy for reference ( although the internet is might be more useful ). I expected to learn some fundamentals to cope with security issues in the daily live of webdeveloping, that after reading the book and messing around with some code examples my awareness for possible security flaws would be raised.

Security Awareness

The untangled web partially raised my awareness. Since i read the book i am more aware of the possibility of security issues in many layers of the web, plugins, java applets and other stuff that lives on the internet. Again what I missed was a more practical approach. For example the book could start with a simple php site implementation. This should be of no concern for the average reader of this book. With the example site created the book could have show ways how to hack the site. I know this might not be the most ethical methodology, but for me it would be the best way to remember all the information about security issues and how to prevent them.

The Future

Later chapters describe some modern features of the web. Luckily most of the these are reasonably robust, for example web sockets and web workers. In this section the book becomes also more practical and more fun to read. I enjoyed the epilogue of the book where the analogy is made between the society en the online society which hasn’t had any time yet to form human-based ethics. Regarding piracy and security.


There is a lot to be said about web security, much more than i would have known. I hope i have raised my own awareness regarding security to implement it in my daily job. However i will have a hard time selling the extra time in advance to clients.

I must compliment the author for writing this reference book about security issues on the internet. It is easy to see that a lot of research has gone into this book. Bottom line this isn’t a fun developing book but it will certainly improve your quality as a developer.

The books product page