Can You Bake Digital Adoption into Your UX Design?

Justin Daab Customer Experience Design

In the book “Shoeless Joe” and its movie adaptation, “Field of Dreams,” we are introduced to Ray Kinsella. Ray hears in his head a disembodied voice telling him, “If you build it, they will come.” Far too often, we design digital experiences according to the same belief. And, if one is lucky, they may, in fact, come. But will they engage? Explore? Learn? Evangelize?

To improve adoption rates, we elevate UX design above satisfying a list of required, “whats,” and address users’ deeper, “so whats.”

Design for emotional requirements.

It’s not a coincidence that we began this blog post with a reference to a story. At Magnani, story is a driving force behind every UX design. Of course, for every UX design project, we study the technical requirements and functional requirements. But we also craft and follow a set of emotional requirements, usually outlined in the form of one or more user stories, or narratives.

In these stories, we merge aspects of traditional personas and user flows, then infuse them with the emotional motivations. It’s an opportunity for designers to walk in users’ shoes, so to speak, well before they begin to create wireframes.

The best narratives incorporate not simply what users encounter. They describe how it makes users feel. It unveils what motivated them to engage in the first place. It dissects what considerations they are mulling as they take each step in the journey. And reveals who else might be an influence in their process, etc.

Understanding users’ emotional requirements help any designer rank navigational structures and page elements. When you know what’s top of mind, it’s pretty easy to give visual importance to what should command the most attention.

Optimize for the behaviors you want.

Except for conducting one-on-one interviews, the best chance we have of knowing users’ joys and frustrations is by recording, tracking, and analyzing their behaviors.

Almost all UX designers are familiar with conversion rate optimization (CRO). It’s a process of using analytics to inform design and improve specific performance metrics of your website. Usually, that means optimizing to increase things like form fills, subscriptions or sales. But that process doesn’t have to limited to those things.

Use your analytics and satisfaction surveys to track and measure the effectiveness of UX changes over time. Try to understand what design changes help users complete tasks more easily, improves their satisfaction, and overall adoption.

Understand increasing adoption might require reducing choices.

It’s an easy trap to fall into—thinking that increasing options for people will increase your chances of satisfying your users. But it’s far more likely in most cases that with every additional choice, you’re diminishing the potential to positively engage that person. It’s simply an example of Hick’s Law in action.

In plain English: you’re not doing yourself, your customers, their decision-making process, or your business any favors by increasing the complexity of your navigation. The smart decision is to reduce the available user journey options down to only those most desirable to people already predisposed to converting or buying what you’re offering. To paraphrase a favorite adage of political strategists, you shouldn’t waste time trying to change anyone’s mind. You should focus on getting the people who already support you to actually cast a vote.

Remember, everyone needs a little help, sometimes.

Sometimes, incorporating a technique as simple as a tooltip, can enhance a user’s level of confidence or understanding. Making an effort to design for accessibility delivers benefits to every user, not simply those with disabilities. And, of course, incorporating a digital adoption platform like WalkMe can relieve users from the stress of feeling alone in the journey to understand the ins, outs and opportunities any new UX design has to offer.


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Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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