Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Progressive Adoption Principle 2: Establish an Adoption Profile--
The secret to progressive adoption is to stop thinking of adoption as a Yes/No state on the part of the user, rather think of it as incremental adoptions over a period of time. Map out the basic core features that would represent minimal adoption and apply principle 1 to those ("don't get in the way"). Next decide what levels logically lead the user through a comfortable progression pattern over time.

For example, in online bill pay, we decided it was too much to ask a user to start by turning off paper bills and having the system pay electronic bills automatically. They first had to build a trust in the system. The best progression seemed to be:
  1. Get the bill in the mail and pay manually online.
  2. Authorize getting the bill electronically but still pay manually online.
  3. Authorize routine bills to be received electronically and payed automatically online.

Two elements you should consider when planning a progression profile are:

  • Level of trust required. Plan a progression that allows the user to build trust with the system. Trust can mean a lot of things, trust you with my data, trust you with my SSN, trust you with my credit card number, etc. It can also mean I trust that all this work is going to get me what I want. For example, MS Excel's Chart Wizard lets you see how your data will be graphically displayed at each step in the process.
  • Level of skill required. Move the user along incrementally from basic skills to get core value to more advanced skills to leverage greater value. For example, MS Word starts with a default template in place. Using templates should not be an initial requirement, but should be planned as a step that happens after the user has made the initial adoption. Steps along the skill dimension should be sized for easily managed progression. Don't make the user have to learn a lot to get more value. As long as the perceived increase in value is proportional to perceived effort to get there, you have a workable progression profile.

I will discuss concrete user assistance techniques that can be applied to support progressive adoption over my next several blogs.

Stay posted.

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