“Go forth and use this new product!”. I feel as if this happens more often than not, an existing product is re-developed, with not much in mind to the user, who has to use this new product. I was on a project recently, where this did not happen, and I’d like to share that with you.
Re-developing an existing application is normally always to make someone’s life easier – to improve user experience – but if the user is not trained properly (or if the new system is too cumbersome to use), it’s going to be a difficult transition. We don’t want that.
My client’s PM wanted to help address this common issue – that user training is a must – so I was invited last week to train users of a system I helped build that had recently gotten deployed to production. I asked my colleague AJ McClary, who has been through numerous customer engagements in this area, to give me his top three “words of advice”:
- Let the user drive! Don’t just show them how to use the system – this is too pushy (unless it’s the first time they’ve seen it).
- When they are driving, request that they “speak aloud” on what they are trying to accomplish. It really helps get into their mindset how to use the system.
- When the user seems hesitant about how to do something – don’t just tell them the answer (“this is how you do it” – this sounds too pushy). Ask them what they would do. If the application is not intuitive enough to figure out, then the user interface could probably have been designed better.
These words of advice really work. If you keep these things in mind when working with users, it will help make their transition to the new system as seamless as possible, and helps the user adopt the use of the system. This approach also helps with identifying any future enhancements that can be made to the system from a user’s perspective.
Looking back today, there are numerous improvements that could have been made early on:
- More up-front meetings to understand the issue at hand, this is the requirement definition and technical design phases of the project.
- More reviews with the user to get:
- Feedback on what user experience could be improved – how to make something more intuitive to use.
- Feedback on “bang for the buck” functionality with the schedule and budget that was available.