First-time use experience in enterprise software
Most startup businesses today are evaluated based on their adoption rate. Human attention span to anything new is limited and to get the most done during the ‘First-time use experience’ of your service is extremely important for the future success of your product or service.
‘First-time use’ experience in B2C applications:
Take an example of an activity tracker; for a faster adoption and immersion in the exercise activity tracking, most tracking apps, try to ‘onboard the user during the ‘first use’ itself.
1) A user is asked to fill in some information like date of birth, Height, weight, location, and so on.
2) Next user is guided thru a structured set of instructions to download the mobile app, set up and pair the tracker device with the mobile app
3) Lastly, the app starts motivating you to start exercising more
This is great approach adopted by most of these B2C services, where individual customer, user needs to be treated as an ‘individual’ and train him or her, with appropriate steps for getting started, as if a friend holding hand and taking you thru these chores so that user could start using the service ASAP.
I have seen very matured ‘first use’ or ‘onboarding’ experiences built into many B2C services, like cloud drives, Health trackers, Communication services, mobile wallets and so on.
Social media applications have built a very detailed Onboarding experience, including email confirmation communications, wizards that capture personal information of the user. Most social networking apps make sure the new user adds connections, friends, peers as many as possible because social networks are worthless without the ‘connections’.
‘First-time use’ experience in B2B applications:
Most of the traditional B2B Applications historically were bought by decision makers, implemented by IT departments and mandated to be used by the end users. It was OK in that era to have expensive ‘training programs’ to just familiarize the end users with the new service interactions. In the new world of Cloud services, B2B applications cannot survive without an extremely user-friendly experience for the users.
The ‘First-time use’ experience is also extremely critical, for making sure the service is adopted fast and business goals are achieved by the customers much faster.
Like the Social networks have a clear objective of users being ‘connected’ with friends, professionals or other like-minded users, being their basic objectives, their ‘first use’ experience forces the users to add connections. For the B2B applications, the primary business objectives would be different, it is important to choose what features to be included in the ‘first use’ experience.
Building ‘First-time use’ experience for the B2B Applications.
1) Which Role of the user will trigger the ‘First Use”
Establish and understand which role of the user from the customer organization will trigger the first use. This is an important step, to start with, as the type of user who will kick off the use of the new application in an organization could differ based on the type of application, industry type, and so on.
2) Identify the top objectives of the application/ service
Most design and product management teams have a fair idea of the top goals of the users using their product. Identify which feature can give a sense of immediate appreciation of your product, and focus on that feature for the ‘first use’ experience.
3) Define the goals of the ‘first use’ experience for your product:
Defining what your user would love to achieve with the ‘first use’ efforts is important. Adoption of any product will significantly increase if the users accomplish even single small goal out of a large list of features product offers.
4) Make it short and sweet, and not compelling:
All users have different levels of appetite for investing time for the first use. Having enough flexibility in the experience will surely help. If there are 5 steps of the experience, allow users to proceed without filling in all fields of the form, or skipping a section (to be completed later) would be a great idea. This is like walking a tightrope, make sure the experience is long enough to capture the most important information required for onboarding and short enough to keep the user interested.
5) Add some gamification to make it interesting.
Adding friendly communication, encouraging users to complete the ‘first use’ experience, would certainly retain an interest of the first-time user. Users who found the product ‘friendly’ will most likely be your product ambassadors in their organizations.
6) Trigger tasks for other user roles from the ‘first use’ scenarios.
Most enterprise products need an orchestration of tasks across multiple roles of users, it might be a great idea to trigger tasks for other user roles from the ‘first use’ experience workflow. Here is an example, from the B2C world, when you sign up for a new social network account, you are asked to add friends to your network, where a notification is fired to these friends, to accept the invite, or to sign up on the network.
7) Add familiarization of the UI as part of the ‘first use’ experience:
A new employee in the office is happy if someone walks you around the office showing where the coffee machine, restrooms are. Including the UI familiarization as part of the ‘first use’ or as a separate feature, might be a great idea. By announcing where to find what is always a good way to get started.
8) Make the ‘first use’ wizards available for later use:
Sometimes users skip sections of the ‘first use’ to meet the goal faster. Make sure this same experience is still available later at an appropriate place in UI.
9) Provide content or templates to get started:
Most enterprise applications UI looks empty and boring without any content. Giving some free content to start with is a great idea. Even offering some templates of object creation, from similar industry type might be a great idea. For example, if there is a dashboard in your application, the first-time user might see a lot of blanks, either showing some data or guide the user thru a process of creating data could be triggered from the dashboard itself.
To summarize, designing a ‘first use’ experience for enterprise products is as important at for a consumer application or social network.
In the world of subscription-based products, fast onboarding, adoption of product thru the customer organization are the key parameters for making sure the customers use the product, see the benefits, and hence renew their contract next year.