What exactly is user adoption?

The phrase 'User adoption' is one we hear a lot as we go about our daily work. Be it on client site, at conferences or seminars, or on the web. Supposedly if you throw a bit of user adoption at a project it can't fail to be a success. Yet our experience has taught us that user adoption is a tricky subject.

What exactly is user adoption?

The term itself causes confusion, with different people applying different meanings to it. Even those that do agree on the term often struggle to define exactly how to achieve it. It can all result in a bit of a muddle.

Here at BrightStarr we approach the area with confidence. Before we even discuss user adoption, we ensure anything we build adheres to the following:

1. The system must fulfil a specific user need

Put simply users adopt systems they either have to use, or that they want to use. If everyone at a company needs to use SharePoint to fill out timesheets (and often users have to fill out timesheets to get paid) then SharePoint will be adopted.

Similarly if you build an engaging discussion community that users want to be a part of, SharePoint will also be adopted.

2. The system must provide a good solution to a given problem

This point follows on from our first point. If you build something engaging, users are more likely to use it. If the system is well designed, logically thought out, even fun to use, then users will adopt it.

Of course we also understand that sometimes adoption needs a little push. Often our projects will include specific activities to help seed adoption. Users might receive formal training, clients might provide 'drop in clinics' to help content authors, or a competition might be run to name the system being built.

The most important thing to remember is; adoption starts with a good system that users have a reason to interact with. Without that, subsequent activities are pretty much pointless.

Martyn Perks Head of Customer Insight

Martyn is a business consultant with wide ranging experience in both public and private sectors. His expertise is in helping world-wide and small organisations improve how they communicate, share knowledge and innovate internally — aiding their growth and competitiveness. He works with senior leadership to front-line staff advising and mentoring them with compelling insights, recommendations, prototypes and business cases. Because his background is in design, he uses these skills whenever possible to help make complex ideas simple, in tandem with tangible and insightful analysis.

In addition to his consultancy work, Martyn regularly speaks, produces debates, and writes about a wide variety of topics including about privacy, big data, social media, innovation, design, 3D printing, behaviour change, usability, architecture, and artificial intelligence. Publications he has written for include The Independent, International Business Times, Telegraph business, the Guardian, Big Issue, Core77, Design Week, Netimperative, spiked, Web Designer Depot and CMS Wire. He co-authored Winners and Losers in a Troubled Economy: How to Engage Customers Online to Gain Competitive Advantage (2008), contributed a chapter on online communities to The Future of Community: reports of a death greatly exaggerated (2008); founded the Big Potatoes: The London Manifesto for Innovation; and conveyed the Big Potatoes: Manifesto for Design group.

He has spoken at debates across Europe and in America including at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Battle of Ideas festival, Design Exchange at the London Design Festival, Anglo Israeli Association in Jerusalem, Zurich Salon, Dublin Salon, Hellenic American Union in Athens, London College of Fashion, and at the private members club Home House. He has appeared on R4’s PM radio news programme debating whether blue-skies thinking is a management fad with FT’s Lucy Kellaway, and more recently debated whether artificially intelligent machines will take over humanity on SkyNews’ lunchtime #SkyDebate. Thankfully, he said they are still lightyear’s away from being as smart as us!

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