How to Rock your Next Product Training

by Aleksandra Piwowarek, Matthias Noll - 11 Mar 2019

Need to introduce end-users into your product? It can be fun: we show you how

Want to give your users a great first experience with your new IT application? User trainings for your software product are the perfect opportunity. As team WMS Training, we develop and deploy training solutions for tech products within the world of Zalando Logistics, and today we’ll show you how to quickly and easily develop a training session for your product.

We’ll start you off with three steps to creating a user-centred product training and then follow up with a few ideas to make your training more fun, memorable, and engaging.

Three Steps to User-Centred Product Trainings

Imagine that you and your team have been working on a new feature. After weeks of alignment, stakeholder management, and development everything is ready for Monday’s go live. You’re eager to finally see these weeks of work materialize into a solution for your end users.

As you’re finishing up your last email of the day, one of your stakeholders pops by your desk with a “quick question.”

“Just a quick question. I know we’re going live next week. Will there be trainings for our end users?”

To which you reply, “What? Oh yes, of course. We’ll show them how to use it.”

But as they walk away, doubts begin to well up inside of you:The go-live is coming up!  There’s no time to prepare anything… What if I bore them?... But, I’m not a trainer… What if they don’t get it?

Well, don’t worry.  Even if you don’t have a lot of training experience or time, we’ve got three steps that will help you develop a user-centred training session quickly and easily, and can be applied to live trainings, webinars, and eLearnings.

Step 1. Identify your target group and their learning objectives

Think back to the last training you attended that felt completely irrelevant to you. Maybe it was a standard safety training, with a focus on lifting things properly, because you work for a logistics company.

Chances are that if the training felt irrelevant, the content was not aligned with your personal learning objectives. By identifying your target group and their training goals, you’re managing your training like a product, with the learner as your user – whose problems you want to solve.

Example:
As a production manager, I want to learn how to pull current performance data from the system in order to evaluate my department’s output and react to it.

Learning objectives can be framed like user stories, which can make learning objectives clear.

Try it out now:
Let’s work through an example to gain a better understanding. Imagine someone from your family, totally new to smartphones, and a few of their friends have recently developed a passion for photography. They want to show it off, so they decide they’d like to start using Instagram. But they need your help, as someone who is into tech matters. Describe the target group in this example. Where and how should they be trained? What should they be able to do after the training?

Step 2. Design an assignment to check that you’ve achieved learning objectives

How will you know that your audience has achieved the learning objectives? Test their knowledge along the way and give everyone a chance to practice.

We all know that practice makes perfect. During training, you have the unique opportunity to give the user the chance to practice with you around, before jumping into it on their own.

If your system is still under development, but accessible, you can have your users login and search for test data or even ask the participants to perform exactly the tasks that they will have in the future.

If this isn’t feasible, never fear. You can easily integrate knowledge checks, with questions like: “I can enter performance data into the production screen. True or false?” This allows you to reiterate and reinforce key points in an interactive way.

Try it out now:
It’s time to create an assignment that will show you that your family member and their friends have learned what they needed to. Take five minutes to identify one activity that will show you that they have fulfilled the learning objectives you outlined in Step 1.

Step 3. Determine what learners need to know to complete your assignment

Now we come to the final step: creating training content. Often many of us run into the following trap; we start by focusing on content, collecting any and all materials we have: technical descriptions, complex flowcharts, stakeholder presentations, etc.

The problem? A good deal of that material may not actually be relevant to your audience and may not help them achieve their learning objective. If anything, it may overwhelm them. These three steps will help you avoid that trap.

Now that you’ve built a user-centred training, how can you go one step further and ensure that the training engages your audience? The key here is to remember that your audience has a limited attention span, so avoid long explanations when possible. Instead, break down big concepts into smaller ones and leverage interactivity to make sure that you haven’t lost anyone.

We’ve found that teaching content in an interactive way engages our audience, gives them a chance to practice what they’ve learned, and helps them to better remember important points. It has the added benefit of allowing us to check what they’ve learned. We have some examples of how you can gamify your training in the following section.

Try it out now:
How many of you have read technical manuals? How much fun are those? Instead, think about how you can present your family member and their friends with the information they need. Try to avoid information overload and provide your target group only with what they need. If you can, bring in an element of interactivity to increase user engagement and enjoyment.

The result? A user-centred training that gives your audience the skills they need to successfully use your product and leaves them with a great first impression.


Three Easy-to-Implement Learning Activities

Not sure where to start when it comes to developing interactive content? We’ve got you covered. Here are a few ideas of easy-to-add interactions.


Objective:
The learner should be able to understand a high-level process or the data-flow between systems.

Prepare: Develop a flowchart of the process or the data-flow (e.g. with Powerpoint). Print it out and cut the single steps into puzzle pieces.

Conduct: Divide your audience into teams of 2 - 5 participants. Every team gets a set of puzzle pieces and needs to discuss the order of the workflow. Afterwards you show them your solution.


Objective:
The learner should be able to understand important terms used in your software product and know where to find them on the screen.

Prepare: Take a screenshot of your product and develop a slide with terms and descriptions of important screen elements. Print it out and cut the single steps into puzzle pieces.

Conduct: Divide your audience into teams of 2 - 5 participants. Every team gets a set of puzzle pieces and needs to discuss their positions on the screenshot. Afterwards you show them your solution.


Objective:
The learner should be able to distinguish between options/make the right decision.

Prepare: Formulate statements for certain decisions and why they are true. Delete parts from it and leave a blank line. Print out the worksheets.

Conduct: Divide your audience into teams of two or let them work alone. Everyone receives a worksheet and they need to come up with the right solution. Afterwards you show them your solution.

If you want to learn more about the three step process, try out the free online course from NovoEd. We took the course last year and found it very useful. And feel free to get in touch with us or to send us your solutions to your exercise if you’d like us to check how you did. We’d love to see them!

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