Understanding Product Adoption

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Hey, if you are willing to know why some of the applications are so popular and some are not, I have few thoughts for you.

While working in a digital adoption company for a year, I have analysed a pattern behind product/feature adoption.

To understand this, let us discuss few basic things.
First of all, why we do anything- To fulfil our physiological, emotional or any other type of need.
How we do anything- We use tools, follow processes and do other required things.
Why we choose some particular process or tool- Because we believe that tool or process will help us to accomplish that need.
Let’s say, there are two tools or process, then how we decide what to choose 1.Which tool or process, we know how to work with or which is easy to use.
2.Which tool or process we enjoy doing.

Did you notice something special here? Here we find the facets of choosing and using a particular tool or process to accomplish some task. So let’s have quick look at the facets -
1. User Need
2. Expectation or Awareness about solution
3. Discovery of solution
4. Ease of use and learnability of solution
5. Experience

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These facets are very much valid in product adoption(digital or tangible). So, let’s apply these in context and understand each one in detail —

User need

The product and feature should be based on acute user needs. If something isn’t solving the problem, then it’s not the solution. Your design team can help you in understanding needs and goal of the user. There are multiple research methods and frameworks like JOBS TO BE DONE to understand the user need.

Expectation or Awareness

User should know that your product or feature is capable of solving the problem he/she is facing. If someone is unaware of the aeroplane, then he/she can’t think that he/she can fly from one place to another in that aluminium material box. A lot of time you might have explained some simple feature in mobile to your parents. You need to explain that not because that is a complex or bad designed feature, just because your parents are unaware of that feature. So, how we can make our users aware about a product/feature:
A.- Get the help of your product marketing team(conventional way).
B.- Use digital adoption tools like WhatFix, and create Popups to explain the newly launched feature to the user.


Product or feature should be discoverable to users. A smart enough guy once quoted- “The best place to bury something, so that none could find is -on the 2nd page of google results”. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, if the user is not able to find it, how can you expect them to use. The best part of discovery problem is that you won’t get feedback about it, unless and until you run a usability test.
So if it a new application or website, go for Search Engine Optimisation(SEO), Social Media Optimisation(SMO) etc.
If it is a feature in existing product, it can be because of poorly designed Information architecture, less visual weight etc.
If it is due to less visual weight, your life is easier, again get any digital adoption tool and use their highlight tool(Whatfix people call this tool beacons) to grab the attention of the user and make your feature more discoverable.
If it is due to poorly designed Information Architecture, you need to revisit you user research and redesign it.

Learnability and ease of use

Product should be like straw, no need of a manual to use it. If your feature is not easy to use, user will easily get frustrated and switch to the better alternative. Understanding the user’s mental model is crucial in creating a learnable and easy to use feature. There are a lot of artefacts and design research processes to understand the mental model(write in comment, if you want to know about the mental model).
If the cost of iteration and changes is too high, you can choose to train users. There are plenty of ways to train people about softwares and I won’t say again to use a digital adoption blah blah blah, as you already know about it.


Finally, if everything is at the right place then comes the overall experience of using a tool. Experience can make or break your product. It should be chosen most decisively and, based on user needs and context.

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Sadly, experience is the most misused and misunderstood word. Let me explain how this is important and how this helps. Take a couple of scenarios:
In Scenario-1: Assume you are at a grocery store in this lockdown following social distancing. After completing your purchase, you paid the bill using digital payment app and showing your mobile to the shopkeeper for confirmation. Now in this scenario, a seamless design to show transfer status quickly will be more helpful than a delightfully designed Gif which takes some seconds to show the status.
In scenario-2: You are opening a game on your mobile, you know it takes some time. In this scenario, a gracefully designed gif which can explain some context while the game is loading, can help you a lot in understanding the game and will engage you.
So experience should be based on needs and context.

As we learnt about the facets involved in adoption, whenever you are planning about your next feature or product, do think about these aspects to benefit yourselves and your users.
Hope, this article added some value in your life.
Happy Designing, Jai Hind.

Special Thanks to
Ashutosh Upadhyay: For motivating me to write my observations and research findings.
Himanshu Pathak: For creating contextual graphics and helping me in ideation to come up with this concept.
Swati Bhatnagar: For very detailed co-editing and making this article more readable.

Written by

HCI student from IIT Guwahati, Business enthusiast, Designer by Heart, Entrepreneur, Founder- mycampuscart.com, http://www.everydaycolumn.com/

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