By Nandini Jammi
The coffee has worn off. Your users are panicked, overworked and somewhat terrorized by their workload. They just want to get their job done.
Your primary enemy? Peak distraction.
Your challenge? To get this manic, attention poor user to feel like they’re in control of their job.
Then there’s the real enemy: the constant, ongoing battle within their own brains. Part of them wants to learn. The other part desperately wants a snack break every half hour:
“Physiologically, your neurons are keen and alert for no more than 20 consecutive minutes. At the end of those 20 minutes, your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to total collapse, and it takes two to three minutes for those neurons to be completely recovered and back to the total alert state. If you break longer than three minutes, you’ve redirected your attention.” - [Shift E-Learning Blog]
Your users are lazy.
People only read about 28% of a blog post. Nearly everyone anonymously admits they’re too distracted to get anything done at work. The worst part? It takes something like 23 minutes to get your mind back on track after you’ve let it impulsively wander over to Wait But Why (Nickelled’s preferred distraction du jour.)
You have every possible external and biological force working directly against you.
If you have the unenviable task of training these unruly minds to use your products, sorry and congratulations. Everything that can’t stick, definitely won’t stick!
Nir Eyal says of habit-forming products:
“Reducing the thinking required to take the next action increases the likelihood of the desired behavior occurring unconsciously.”
That’s right. People hate thinking! The less they have to think to get their jobs done, they more they reward you with their business.
This really is the age of bite-sized learning. Let’s talk about how you can overcome this debilitating lack of human willpower.
It’s not a bad idea to borrow from the e-learning community, which seems to have a solid grasp on this world of attention deficit users. After all, this is pretty much their primary audience.
They’re under no illusions that they have your attention. (Hah, they know they don’t.)
A lot of us in SaaS approach onboarding and training with a “let’s see what sticks” approach, but I rarely hear us talking in terms of what we’re really doing: teaching. Your success depends on how well your customers learn to use your product.
Could we give our teaching a little boost by borrowing learning strategies from our counterparts in education? Well, turns out that some of our favorite SaaS companies already are.
Chunking helps users make sense of an overwhelming amount of new information by breaking it down into smaller parts that are easier for the brain to digest.
It’s kind of like the way we set up our numbers (xxx) xxx-xxxx instead of a straight up jumble of xxxxxxxxxx.
Trello has been using chunking to onboard new hires, with each set of tasks is tied into a clear, cohesive goal (like “Who Do I Talk to About”). It’s beautiful. Think about how overwhelmed you are on your first day of work - and then someone sends you this:
“The pearl of wisdom here is that if a learner’s working memory is full, the excess information will just drop out—as in disappear,” says e-learning coach, Connie Malamed.
“It means that if you are explaining something complex and the learner must hold several factors in mind to understand it, you’ll need to chunk information into bite-sized pieces.”
Don’t you wish everyone would do this for you?
This is a perfect way to approach any sort of scenario where a person has a lot of new information to internalize - by gradually connecting bits of information to form a bigger picture.
No one ever really learns from marathon cram sessions. What I love about this Trello board is that their new hires get to learn a little at a time, and to refer back when specific questions come up. Easy peasy.
Spatial learning involves the use of images, objects and interfaces to help users learn and make sense of information.
Hubspot does a great job of making a big, complex product feel easy. Part of that comes from the way everyone at the company refers back to their inbound methodology.
This funnel (or some version of it) lines pretty much every sales, marketing or educational resource they send you - and once you learn it, it’s nearly impossible to forget.
They’re onto something:
“Bite sized nuggets of content that are easy to consume, sometimes they're images or image-based, whose meaning can be grasped quickly, and often create deeper meaning by referencing shared experience or shared stories. And essentially it's faster than reading an explanation of the same information.” [Shift E-Learning Blog]
This funnel helps the entire marketing process settle into your memory both because it’s so visual and also because of they way the company repeats it over and over.
What seemed like a monstrously complicated process starts to feel second nature. And you know what else? Both Hubspot and their marketing method starts to feel irreplaceable.
Hubspot does an excellent job of making my job easier. Check and check.
Kinesthetic (or tactile) learning is basically learn-by-doing.
You already know this - 0ur fastest learning happens during times of necessity. When you really need to get something done.
Take Driftrock, for example. Users don’t come to Driftrock to browse and learn. They come to build out Facebook marketing campaigns fast.
Driftrock trains users to use its features one step at a time, which is useful when you have to complete a task ASAP.
You definitely wouldn’t retain an entire chapter of a textbook, but you would definitely get a lot out of learning how to create and manage triggers on Driftrock.
Many of these products are already beautiful and intuitive, but users still need to be taught how to be successful with them.
And since users are distracted, you can expect the way you teach them to use your product to have a tangible impact on whether they stick around.
If there a more intuitive way to communicate your product, invest some time to investigating how you can do it. (Not because I’m telling you to, but because many of your competitors are already hot on the trail.)
Invest in learning strategies, your customers feel like they’re capable and in control of learning your product. They invest more time in learning more, confident that you’re you’re there to help them.
They’ll come back and stay! Yay!
Got busy, impatient or ADD users? Send them an interactive guide and go home! Make your first Nickelled guide here.