Monday, January 23, 2012
User Adoption Strategies
Here is the situation. Your documents are stored on your network drives and you are contemplating to implement a content management initiative. At the same time you have an apprehension about how your users will adopt to your content management system (CMS).
Well, your apprehension is very much valid. User adoption task is not to be taken lightly. So, what do you do?
Good news is that it is possible to have your users to adopt to your content management systems. What are the strategies do accomplish user adoption? Let's look at them.
1. Point out benefits and usefulness – how it is better than what a user is doing now before you even started working on your deployment. This would create a good start to your project. It would prepare your users that the change is coming. The change is difficult to accept and so the earlier you start preparing for it, the easier it will be for you to implement it.
2. Collect user requirements and create use cases. Select your system and deploy it based on these requirements and use cases. I preach user-centered design. User-centered design is a cornerstone of user adoption. Never underestimate user-centered design. You deploy the system for users, make it they way they need it as much as possible.
3. Provide assurance of training and assistance from the beginning of your project. Let your users have confidence in you from the very beginning that they are not going to be left alone when the system is in place.
4. Make everything very easy and very intuitive.
5. User acceptance testing is paramount to user adoption.
6. Provide training early on.
7. Provide documentation describing in detail how the system works, what are the new procedures, etc.
8. Demonstrate that it is easy and consistent with what the user already knows or already does.
9. Let the user try it in safe, verifiable increments. Do not ask the user to make immediate switch from his accustomed way of work to your new system. Do it gradually.
10. Accept that user adoption is not a single event or decision on the part of a user. It happens in phases, which are affected by the frequency of product use. Use progressive user adoption strategy.
11. A progressive user adoption strategy consciously moves a user to new levels of product acceptance over time, through an orchestrated sequence of exposures to the product’s functionality.
The overall strategy for progressive user adoption starts with the solid foundation of a satisfying user experience of a product’s core functionality, then builds a logical progression from that base by identifying moments of opportunity and appropriate interventions.
12. Consider the following steps.
Identify core functionality. Core functionality is the basic functionality that, if not achieved, will guarantee the user will reject the product.
Make the core functionality bulletproof from a usability perspective. From a product design perspective, initially, the main goal should be to optimize the user experience that touches the core functionality.
The unspoken rule here is this: "Don’t break the core functionality as you add features". Promoting or adding advanced features can also add real or perceived complexity, disrupt compatibility with users’ established routines, and increase a sense of risk. All three of these consequences can stop adoption.
Identify sequences that go from core functions to advanced functions. Identify the next layers of features and functionality that could represent logical steps for users to take over time, once they have increased familiarity with the product.
Construct product interventions to move users to advanced functionality. An important goal of this step is to identify moments of opportunity that indicate readiness on a user’s part to advance to a new level of functionality. You must make it easy for a user to ignore the intervention.
What is of tantamount importance is that the intervention not be overly intrusive, impacting the core functionality. By all means, make it noticeable but don’t force users to change their habitual task flows in order to reject the option or suggestion. Not disrupting the core user experience is a key requirement for those interventions.
I will give you two examples of a progressive adoption strategy.
Banking industry has created online banking and invited us to use it. It was very much optional. Then they said that we can choose between paper statements and electronic statements. And then they said that there will be no more paper statements any longer and that we must go online to see our statements. So, the online banking has now become mandatory.
Similar example can be used in content management. When you have a CMS in place, announce to your users that they can choose where they can store their documents - either on network drives or in your CMS. But point out benefits of your CMS as compared to network drives. In your next step, announce to your users that certain types of documents must now be stored in your CMS. Provide continuous training and one-to-one assistance if necessary.
In the following step, announce to them that you are closing network drives and that all documents must now be stored in your CMS. After they got used to basic documents uploading into your CMS, you can introduce other features of your CMS, like Wikis, blogs, personalized sites, etc.