Those of us who watch movies are all familiar with the story from Field of Dreams (the second best Costner baseball movie).  In this movie he builds a baseball diamond in a corn field when he hears the whispered comment “If you build they will come”.  He does and they do.



But does this apply to SharePoint, or really any software development?  The answer is no.  We have to do a great deal more that build a great SharePoint site…we have to let people know about it, what it will do for them, and promote their interest in the site itself.  If we never get them interested in the site, then they will never use it.


One of my colleagues (Daniella Matutes)shared a presentation that she created about the Five Stages of the Usage Lifecycle.  These stages are:


They don’t know about our site…how do we let them know?


They have heard something but aren’t ready to use it yet either because they have questions about it, or don’t know if it will help them…we need to convince them to try it.  We also have to make sure that we are ready for them to transition or they will lose interest (in other words don’t try and promote too early)

First-Time Users

They are using it and if its good…they might come back.  This is a critical juncture where they have extended trust to us and we had better live up to their expectations.

Regular Use

These users are using our site…perhaps because they are forced to, or perhaps because they want to.  If we want them to become passionate, we need to show them how out site makes their lives easier.

Passionate Use

Our “perfect user”, these people will be our advocates…but they will slip back into an earlier state if we are not careful.


Obviously if our site doesn’t grab users interest, and live up to the hype, then users will not use our site…so we have to build a great site…but, we can build the best site in the world and if no one knows about it they won’t use it either.  How do we fix this?


Communication Planning

One critical success factor in driving user adoption is to devise a defined plan on how to communicate to end users about the upcoming site.  This plan must answer some basic questions:

Who is it for?

What will it do?

Where can I find it?

When can I start using it?

Why should I bother?


This will allow us to take those Unaware users and start to drive interest.  It will also let us take those regular users and make them passionate by building interest in our site. 


A critical aspect of this plan is that it is not a one shot mass e-mail, but a multi-step, multi-media long term effort that will gradually build buzz about the upcoming site and promote more information as launch approaches.  The multi-media aspect is to use things like e-mails, posters, contests, T-Shirts, promotional items, and anything else the marketing department can come up with.  Think of how a big blockbuster movie is advertised with a teaser trailer and then more and more information that is released as we get closer to opening day.  Don’t forget to include reviews by the pilot group that tell people about the upcoming launch (you DO have a pilot group don’t you?).  Those initial users, who are likely to start out as passionate users are critical to the success of your communication plan.  This buzz continues after the initial launch with each release of more functionality (because you don’t have to have the entire site launch on day 1 after all…users actually seem to LIKE sequels).



Next time we will talk about Organizational Change Management…I’m so excited, aren’t you?