Monday, December 18, 2006

Progressive User Adoption: More thoughts on building an adoption profile--
Before moving off the topic of laying out a suggested progression for user adoption, I would like to discuss the two main progressive adoption dimensions: efficiency improvement and feature adoption. In essence, efficiency improvement says, "There's a better way to do what you're doing." Feature adoption says, "You can do more things than you're doing."

Efficiency Improvement
The biggest challenge you face with efficiency improvement is that you are coming in low on the benefit/effort ratio. By that I mean that the user is already getting the task done and you're trying to get the user to invest immediate time and energy for a longer term gain. This ranks right up there with telling overweight people they need to diet and telling smokers they need to quit. In other words, don't expect the user community to hoist you on their shoulders and carry you in a display of triumphant gratitude. In this dimension, we are going to want to look at strategies that minimize the adoption effort, possibly embedding shortcuts and some degree of functionality within the user assistance itself.

Feature Adoption
Depending on your business model, increased feature adoption could be a real sweet spot for you. Even though there is still an increased effort required on the part of the user, the one thing you have going for you is being able to offer benefits the user is not currently getting. The dominant strategies here will be to show (illustrate or demonstrate) the new state and communicate the ease with which the user can get there (and cancel back out).

When laying out your adoption profile, think about along which dimension you will be taking the user. If you are only going to improve efficiency and the user does not do that task very often--you might just want to let that dog lie sleeping, or at worst, give it a gentle nudge and move on.

The better payoff is along the feature adoption dimension; spend your time and creative energy there.

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