7 Ways to Increase Portal User Adoption

Posted / 26 July, 2023

Author / Enginess

4 Digital Disruptions to be Aware of

You've invested in building a user portal but after launch adoption is lower than expected. Let us help you increase portal user adoption by looking at seven big steps you can take to encourage portal adoption.

Imagine this scenario: after months of hard work, development, and testing, you’ve finally launched a brand new web portal. You’ve poured time, money, and development resources into it. You think you’ve created something that can finally address a significant pain point that’s been plaguing your employees or customers. You’re excited—your portal is about to give your business a big boost. 

And then…it flops. After the launch, the number of people using your portal is lower than you’d hoped, and your big investment isn’t paying off. 

So, what can you do to increase portal adoption when you find yourself in this situation? 

In this post, we’ll give you some answers to that question by covering the seven big steps you can take to encourage portal adoption. 

We’ll start with the low-hanging fruit: ways to break down the barriers that might be hampering user engagement, from complicated registration processes to terrible user experiences. Then we’ll move on to ways to educate your users about how to use and benefit from your brand new portal. And finally, we’ll tackle the advanced moves: the subtle tweaks you can make to nudge your audience toward deep engagement with your portal.

1) Simplify the Registration Process

Before you make drastic changes to the portal itself, your top priority should be to lower the barriers-to-entry that might be deterring your portal users. 

The registration process should be your first port of call here—not only because registration is the first hurdle that your potential users will encounter, but also because complex registration requirements are a really significant deterrent for would-be users. A 2012 study conducted by Blue Research found, for example, that 86% of users were bothered by registration requirements on websites, and that 54% said they would abandon any website with a time-consuming registration process. 

But where a website might be able to get around registration requirements (by allowing users to continue as guests, for example), user registration is more or less unavoidable with a portal. In order to provide users with the right access and tools, your portal will need users to register and provide key information about themselves. 

Luckily, though, there are things you can do to streamline the registration process. Start by reviewing your registration process and cutting out any unnecessary questions. Then, reduce the amount of information that users have to provide upfront while they’re registering. They can always be prompted to fill in important missing pieces once they’re registered—but you have to get them through the door first.

2) Improve the User Experience

A second significant barrier to portal adoption is poor user experience. If your portal is unintuitive, difficult to use, impossible to navigate, or unresponsive to the needs of your audience, it won’t get much traction. 

So, addressing UX issues should be a top priority. Start by identifying obvious pain points in the user journey by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Is each element of the portal useful and necessary?
  • Is the portal easy to use without training? 
  • Is the portal navigable? Will users be able to find what they’re looking for quickly?
  • Does the user journey make sense? Is it intuitive?
  • Is all of the content in the portal accessible for people with disabilities?
  • Is the portal’s interface well-designed and attractive?

If you have UX designers on staff (or if you have the resources to bring in a UX consultant) this is the time to leverage their expertise. But even without dedicated UX experts, you and your team members can do a thorough walkthrough of the portal user journey in order to identify any glaring problems. 

You can also solicit valuable UX feedback from your users—more on that coming up.  

3) Educate your Audience About the Unique Benefits 

Even if the use-cases and benefits of your portal are crystal clear to you, your target users might not understand exactly what they are. 

Fortunately, you’ve probably done a lot of research on the specific, measurable, and unique benefits that your portal can offer your target audience—otherwise, you wouldn’t have bothered to develop it.

Your next step is to clearly communicate these unique benefits to your users. 

Give some thought to your most effective communication option (Email? Face-to-face? A formal written resource?) Then use this channel to educate your users about exactly how they can benefit from using your portal. 

Try to be specific: if you have metrics that show that your portal will save users time or money, improve their job performance, or make their interactions easier, use these as concrete evidence for the benefits of portal adoption. 

4) Provide Training, How-Tos and FAQs

Beyond educating your audience about the unique benefits of your program, you can also work to educate them about how to incorporate the tool into their workflow or everyday life. 

If you’ve designed your portal to serve your employees, one of your best options here is to provide training opportunities—think workshops and formal training sessions—that will get users up to speed on how to use the new software effectively. Offering this support is also a nice way to get your team on board, and it can give you early insight into any problems that might need to be addressed. 

If you’ve developed your portal to serve customers or clients, you can offer more remote support and training tools. You could use how-to videos to teach users the skills they’ll need to navigate the portal or to walk them through the key functionalities of the software. 

For both of these audiences, it’s also a good idea to develop an FAQ resource that users can draw on to troubleshoot common issues quickly and independently.

5) Use the Portal as a Communication Tool

Most portals come with some great communications features that can be used to streamline mass communications, facilitate direct interactions between users and service providers, or even just to cut down on the amount of email that your employees receive. 

You can leverage these communication tools to nudge your users towards portal adoption, especially if you can make your portal a mainstay of your communications. 

If you regularly use your portal to communicate essential info to users or to conduct normal business, your audience will naturally find themselves logging on to the portal more and more. Basically, the key here is to make the portal a key source of vital information, so that users who avoid portal adoption will eventually find that they have no choice but to get on board.

6) Allow for Personalization 

A great portal should offer lots of opportunities for users to customize their experience. 

Not only does the ability to personalize improve the portal user experience—by allowing users to shape their portal to fit their specific and unique needs—but it can also boost portal user adoption. 

Here’s how.

While you’ve probably set out to design a portal that responds to the broad needs of your target audience, it’s important to remember that no two users are exactly alike. Say you’re a multi-location company and you’ve developed a portal to streamline communication and document-sharing between your two offices. This will help all of your employees to collaborate more efficiently. But your sales team is bound to have different specific collaboration needs than your accounting team. Allowing each group of employees to personalize the portal to suit their unique needs will make portal adoption a lot more appealing. 

7) Solicit Feedback (and take advantage of your metrics)

As long as your portal is active, it’s a good idea to continue to reflect on how your users are interacting with the portal (and, of course, looking for opportunities to improve their experience.)

That’s because initial portal adoption isn’t enough to ensure that your users make the most of your portal. You’ll also need to ensure that your users stick around once they’ve been on-boarded.

One way to increase user retention is to solicit regular feedback from your users. This will not only help you to refine your portal, but it will also foster a stronger sense of user attachment. If your users have an opportunity to voice their concerns and shape the future development of the portal, they’re more likely to feel bought-in to the portal. 

You can also use in-depth metrics to boost your portal user retention. These metrics can tell you everything from how many pages your users are viewing, to how often they’re using particular portal features. By keeping tabs on these numbers, you’ll be able to see what elements of the portal are working for users, and what elements need improvement.

The Takeaway

Developing a strong portal doesn’t always mean that your target audience will flock to it. 

As with any new piece of tech, it can be a real challenge to get portal users to engage deeply right off the bat. 

Your target audience might have trouble seeing the unique value that a portal can offer them, or they might struggle to get comfortable with brand new user experience when they’ve gotten used to old systems. Maybe your portal has a hidden UX problem that’s driving users away. Maybe it just takes too long for users to sign up.

But luckily, there are concrete steps that you can take to solve these problems and boost portal user adoption. In this post, we’ve outlined seven of our top tips for doing just that.

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