Best Practices for Promoting User Adoption of New Features
A basic truth about the human condition is that as a species, we detest change. It is uncomfortable, unstable and demands of us to allocate brain and learning resources. Unfortunately for us (software providers), this includes users.
At Iridize, we’re fortunate enough to roll out new features to professional, tech-savvy users who are eager for the next improvement or features they requested themselves. But we’re well-aware of our privilege as a B2B and are happy to share some of the wisdom we have gathered through our own users on the most effective way to roll out new features.
Shiny, happy, exciting news is better than news about Change
You can refer to this approach dismissively as “marketing” , but that won’t change the truth of it: giving someone a present offers them a much better experience than telling them they have to re-arrange their lives around a new habit. This has a lot to do with how you present the product release. Even telling your users “we’re so excited about this new feature” has a stimulating, curiosity-arousing effect.
Wrapping the new feature in an exciting vibe, textually or visibly, can create anticipation within your user-base, or at the very least dissolve some of the natural resistance to change. You can do this by carefully choosing the right microcopy, or simply investing in a beautiful message design.
“You can now HAVE COLORED IMAGES” always beats “you can now USE THE PAINTBRUSH”
Repeatedly highlight and stress user benefits from the new features. Why is this important? As software providers, we are usually immersed in the product up to our eye lids, and certain things may seem trivial to us. Not so much for the users – in addition to telling users what the new feature does, it is imperative that we tell them what they can do with it, how it will help them and what it will do for their user experience of the product.
An example from LinkedIn’s latest UI roll out. Notice how they expressly make the new feature about the user, about their experience.
A side note on microcopy: “Welcome to your new Company Feed” is a good call, because it creates a sense of ownership (“your”) and combines a small ceremonious greeting (“Welcome”) with a feeling of effortlessness. The new company feed just “is”. You, the user, don’t have to do anything about it, you can just walk in and claim what is already yours.
LinkedIn using effective microcopy and a welcoming approach for new design release
Bypass Learning in Favor of Doing
It’s important to remember that the endgame is usage and users’ willingness to try out new features. I stress this point, because product professionals often lose sight of the goal and instead focus on the learning.
Learning is merely a means to an end here, and not a very efficient one, at that. Learning efforts are often ambushed by the forgetting curve: 80-90% of what we learn is forgotten during the first two days. A hands-on approach that encourages the users to start using the new features at intro stage already, opens a channel that is harder to close.
Track Training Success
In the age of personalization, it is becoming clearer that the key to customer satisfaction is in adjusting software behavior to user behavior. Users are much more likely to engage with an application if it communicates with them at the right time. That “right time” differs from user to user, but it is possible to plan and create rules that allow for optimal user-app engagement.
Iridize Drill Down Analytics, as used for boosting user engagemnt
The table above is taken from Iridize’s Analytics module. It allows you to see which users have opened which guides, when and how they rated them. With all this data at hand, I can now contact the disengaged users and try to pique their interest.