Interactive guides for users with Solutions24x7
Solutions24x7 provides Information Technology (IT) and Payroll Management related solutions to the small and medium (SMB) businesses. Solutions span: IT/Business Strategy, Service Management, Software Development, Digital Marketing, Social Media, Task/Workflow and Human Resources (HR).
Solutions24x7 is based in Melbourne/Australia and has been operating for nearly 6 years - providing a number of technologies to its customers (including integration with DNN's Content Management System [CMS]). Solutions24x7 is a user of DnnSharp suite of products and has worked with DnnSharp directly on the creation of new products and features.
For this case study, the specific Solutions24x7 challenge centeres on planned improvements to a customer's existing Intranet. The Intranet was built upon DNN's CMS - which traditionally has its own set of user experience challenges. The new Intranet enhancements spanned the simple menu and theme re-design, to the more complex introduction and upgrade of both Custom and 3rd Party DNN modules.
Solutions24x7 needed to ensure that all employees (with differing roles and experience) were aware of upcoming new version of the Intranet. With Intranet users located across the country, tight project time frames and limited staff availability for traditional classroom training - Solutions24x7 needed a fast, cost-effective and "on-the-job" training solution to on-board employees in a way that made the new Intranet instantly usable. To assist with this challenge, Solutions24x7 looked externally at the very expensive (non-DNN) market solutions and then turned to the DNN community. Solutions24x7 quickly identified DnnSharp and its InfoBox as the only DNN based solution that provided comprehensive online interactive guides for users.
The Solution - DnnSharp's InfoBox
Our first step was to segment the customer's employees into DNN groups/roles - e.g. New Employees, Existing Employees, Managers, Executives and HR Representatives. At all times we remained mindful of the different information needs and time constraints of those varied employee roles/groups (especially Executives).
We then planned our "Getting Started/What's New" general content guides and added some personalised content that would be delivered specifically to each role to help users operate and navigate the new look Intranet. Once we had our content, we next installed InfoBox as part of our Web Sharp Essentials Bundled Annual Licence (rather than the stand-alone version of InfoBox from DNN Store). With InfoBox installed, we started by setting up a "Guide" for a Help Topic and defined what would "Trigger" that guide to be executed. Then we defined the actual "Steps" (On Screen Tooltips) within that Guide and the specific "Actions" that would be executed on each Step (e.g. Go to: Next Step, Previous Step, a Particular Step or Finish Guide). All these "Actions" could all also have conditions on execution and we could even set “Conditions” for those “Actions” that were based on the results of our existing MyTokens scripts.
It was only until we started playing with InfoBox that we fully comprehended InfoBox's powerful feature set and the exciting potential to provide DNN (logged in) users with an online assistant (available 24 hours a day / 7 days a week). One of our InfoBox “Guides”, for example, was called "Intranet Guide for Executives" which would execute on the Home Page based on a trigger condition of a particular DNN role (e.g. Executive). When we wanted to inform HR about users executing guides/tooltips, we made use of InfoBox’s extensive built-in actions library commonly found in other DnnSharp modules (e.g. "Email" HR and "Data/Execute SQL Query" to update Employee record in our SQL Server database after the user started/finished a Guide/Help Topic). In another area of the Intranet, we applied InfoBox to one of our custom DNN modules that had dynamic page content based heavily on variable URL query strings (e.g. current financial period). InfoBox handled this beautifully through its built in support for retaining existing Querystrings and excelled in its ability to play InfoBox tooltips on those pages with set screen/tooltip objects but otherwise dynamic URL'd content. Throughout our project, we found InfoBox's DOM(screen element) selector to work well in choosing where our tooltips would appear on screen. Coupled with this, InfoBox's "Interactive Mode" allowed us to design guides/instructions/tooltips on top of the exact page/web object that you wanted tooltips to appear. "Interactive Mode" gave us a rich visual overlay of the user screen that was very intuitive for a non-programmer to design tooltips and produce amazing results in a very short time.
The Benefits - Small Sized Project & Beyond
Using InfoBox on this small sized project, we estimated a Project Time based savings of about 1-2 weeks and a corresponding cost saving of $10,000-$20,000 in the development and publishing of traditional online/printed training materials and associated workshops. But we believe there was even a more dramatic impact on the actual effectiveness of the e-learning itself. Learning and Development has a well-known “70:20:10” model, which holds that 70 percent of a person’s knowledge is obtained from job-related (hands-on) experiences, 20% from interactions with others and 10% from formal educational events or materials. InfoBox has helped us move into that 70% category - allowing us to help the user "on-the-job" as they navigate our forms, workflows and instructions - providing practical "hands-on" assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In this digital age of increasing informal learning, InfoBox even reduced the need for our users to search external help resources - because the InfoBox aid was in-the-face of the user when they needed it, telling them exactly what to do next.
We also noticed another dramatic effect on learning in terms of “Retention”. We all know that most people have a limit on the information they can recall. Using InfoBox we could utilise the most effective mechanisms for the retention of learning - i.e. learning by “Practice” and Learning by “Demonstration”. This was possible because InfoBox's help is available as your user is actually performing an action/step on screen. Unlike some Tooltip solutions that deliver assistance only once to the user (who in turn often forgets) - InfoBox allowed us to set up special "InfoBox Guide Menus" and place them on a DNN Page as a “pop-up” sidebar list of help guides. This high level list of help guides allowed our user base to manually re-execute guides and re-instruct themselves on a set of actions/steps that were relevant to that particular task at hand.
The Future - Extending the Great First Time Experience
Solutions24x7 expect to realise even greater benefits and savings as it applies InfoBox to larger projects. In the coming months, we also plan to use InfoBox’s newest feature that supports non-DNN-logged in users. This will allow us to further extend the on-boarding benefits to public facing DNN web sites and thereby positively impact the prospects of our customers - as they look to increase sales and the awareness/adoption of their products and services. For those of us that run DNN sites, we know and understand the challenge of providing a great first time user experience, because very few out-of-the box options are available within DNN to help teach/on-board users to DNN. Solutions24x7 success (like our customers) depends on the continued positive feedback from our user community and the associated high user adoption of our solutions. For Solutions24x7, InfoBox continues to help us deliver the right Content (i.e. help/assistance), to the right Person, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.