User Adoption Activities Listing

The user adoption activities listing is a collection of common activities organizations employ to bolster adoption of their Intranets, Portals, or Applications. This is by no means a complete list, but hopefully will suggest some ideas around activities that other organizations have found to be successful in bolstering user adoption and engagement.

In addition to this listing of activities there are a number of simple techniques you can do to make SharePoint easier to use and work with for end users. A couple examples of these methods are as follows:

The activity scope uses a range of values. These values start from the individual focus/impact to team focus/impact all the way to organization wide focus/impact. The purpose of outlining the activity scope is to assist implementers understand how they can pilot, or implement various adoption activities. If the activity is labeled as a Department scoped activity that means that it can be piloted or implemented for an individual department or for all departments.

Authors Note: Technology Adoption is not as simple as implementing or executing the activities listed here. The organization needs to understand what adoption success looks like, and needs to understand how the adoption cycle works.

What follows are the common User Adoption activities I have seen implemented within organizations.

Activity Name Activity Scope Activity Description
Achievements Individual to Organization Wide Similar to the achievement model used in Xbox gaming players (in this case users in the organization) unlock achievements by performing various productive actions in SharePoint.
Adding Email This Page Functionality Individual to Organization Wide Often just adding a simple ‘Email This Page’ option that is immediately visible can help employees share more of the portal/intranet.
Adding Print This Page Functionality Individual to Organization Wide If there is no obvious way in which an employee can print a page, document, news article, or other content in the portal adding this capability can also help support adoption.
Allow Users To Take Content Offline Individual to Organization Wide In addition to outlook integration you could also give key users the ability to take content offline via SharePoint Workspace.
Announcements and Listings of Promotions Department to Organization Wide Can be annual, quarterly or monthly depending on the size of the company and frequency at which these events happen. An ‘on the move’ section can generate interest and also help highlight useful SharePoint features such as user profiles.
Auto Check for Attachments in Outlook Individual to Organization Wide With third party tools it is possible to notify a user and help them upload a document for sharing rather than just emailing it as an attachment.
Best In Class Showcase Individual to Organization Wide There are a number of ways to execute this activity. You can highlight the ‘best’ examples of Team Sites, Project Sites, My Sites/Profiles, etc. Each “Best in Class” winner often has a small icon or image added to the site/location to highlight it in place, as well as have it added to a larger listing – often this is structured by year or quarter – so that new winners are highlighted on a continual basis.
Birth Announcements Department to Organization Wide Often employees may welcome a new family member into their home. To make the portal/Intranet more engaging and personal you can add these announcements for the company to share, comment, and congratulate.
Build A Classifieds Application Individual to Organization Wide Often within organizations there is business value in organization units such as divisions in a manufacturing company trading and buying equipment from one another. Of course there are many other uses for this application. Since it revolves around a social notice for buying or selling often it goes beyond the sale of physical assets and can even be used for sharing babysitters, neighborhood restaurants, or any other networking information that could be useful for employees.
Build An Acronym Wiki Team to Organization Wide Every organization has Acronyms that not every employee understands or knows. Create an Acronym Wiki or Acronym Finder that purposefully provides users with both the acronym explanation as well as relevant documents, teams, contacts, and more within the company.
Community Spotlight / Highlight Team to Organization Wide As your organization matures and begins to engage with external communities or builds and fosters its own internal communities it can be useful to promote these and highlight them with other employees. This can lead to more adoption of both the community and the portal as a hub for many of these formal and informal community activities.
Contests and “Friends Of” Features Organization Wide Things like Vanity URLs for profiles (e.g.
Discounts Organization Wide Many organizations have discounts through the relationships they have with various vendors and institutions. Highlighting and sharing these in an accessible way on the portal/intranet can bolster adoption.
Email Marketing Campaign Team to Organization Wide Viral marketing campaign used with emails sent to teams, communities of practice, etcSubsequent adoption driven by team and community leaders
Employee Showcase Department to Organization Wide Often this is presented on the homepage and highlights an employee within the organization.
Event Picture Sharing Individual to Organization Wide After a significant organizational event it can be useful to share photos of the event. This leads to many people (typically those who attended the event, or know other employees who attended) reviewing and interacting with the photo content.
Excitement Video(s) Team to Organization Wide Provide users with engaging and exciting video commercials, teasers and trailers.
Fake Celebrity or Holiday Profiles Organization Wide By creating mock profiles it can encourage people to search for people and familiarize themselves with the user interface. Sort of like an Easter egg hunt.
FAQs Department to Organization Wide Often it can be daunting and troublesome learning a new system, process, or technology. By adding simple and easy to read Frequently Asked Questions you can remove some of the confusion and help reduce the amount of simple reactive question support you provide (to focus this energy on more pro-active and useful tasks).
For Charity Campaign Team to Organization Wide Based on a measurement (such as the number of MySites completed) provide a dollar or a set amount in donations to a Charity. Division, department or team with the highest rate of completion may even earn the ability to select the targeted charity that would benefit.
Include Within New Hire Orientation Department to Organization Wide Not only introducing the Intranet, but also introducing how to fill out the user profile, or interact with content in various sites.
Incorporate into Annual Training or Skills Validation Processes Department to Organization Wide By adding into the annual training or skills validation process you are showing leadership support and authority around the importance of the new technology or system.
Incorporate into Employee Mentoring Processes Department to Organization Wide Many organizations have employee mentoring processes. Often you can use collaborative or social technology to support this mentoring process in both finding mentors and mentees, measuring their progress, and sharing things between one another in a way that adds value for future mentees (or multiple mentees).
Incorporate Into Employee Signatures Individual to Organization Wide If key people add their internal profile link or an intranet link to their email signature (when emailing internal people) it can help encourage people to visit and view each other’s blogs, profiles, or shared content.
Incorporate Phone List Department to Organization Wide The most popular document for a new portal is often the phone listing.
Inspiring Quotes Department to Organization Wide To make the portal feel more engaging you can cycle famous quotes keeping content fresh, adding to motivation, and providing one more reason for employees to visit the portal/intranet.
Internal Advertisements Department to Organization Wide Banner Ads on the portal, Break room posters, etc.
Launch Party Team to Organization Wide This works especially well if the organization is small or the Intranet roll out is also part of a larger roll out of functionality and capability.
Link Relevant Content Individual to Organization Wide Health & Fitness portal pages link to blogs of marathon runners, biking teams, etcDiversity portal pages link to blogs that discuss diversityGlobal deployment pages link to blogs of expatriates
Lunch Menu(s) Team to Organization Wide One of the most well used and liked features on an Intranet is sharing cafeteria lunch menus. Alternatively sharing menus from local restaurants and take out menus can also be exceptionally useful to employees.
Milestone / Anniversaries / Years of Service Announcements Department to Organization Wide Congratulating employees for their years of service in an extremely public and sharable way on the portal can really help improve employee engagement and provides one more reason to come to the portal/intranet.
Mobile Site / Access Organization Wide Being able to access the system or technology outside of the office or by mobile devices tends to increase adoption for those who are always on the move, or who use their mobile device as a primary way of interacting with clients, partners and fellow employees.
Most Recently Contributed Content Team to Organization Wide This has two benefits. The first is that it lets employees see that the portal, intranet or application is being used which promotes confidence. The second benefit is that often this content is relevant based on how recent it is.
Most Viewed Content Team to Organization Wide Often this can be called most popular content. Due to its popularity and the already documented employee interests in this content it can be useful to further highlight it. This creates further confidence that the portal contains useful and relevant content.
Name The <blank> Contest Organization Wide Common contests revolve around naming the intranet, portal, a new system, or more.
New Hire Announcements Department to Organization Wide Often it can be useful to highlight new hires within the company (especially fast growing companies) to make it easier for people to connect, introduce themselves, and be aware of new roles or personnel changes.
New Job Openings/Postings Department to Organization Wide As new jobs become available it can be useful to share these on the portal/intranet. Often this will result in fresh content that is of interest to employees and can bolster adoption/usage of the portal as having relevant content/opportunities for employees.
Online Scavenger Hunt Team to Organization Wide By setting up a series of hidden documents, events, people, or more you can encourage people with prizes to visit and familiarize themselves with portal/intranet functionality.
Personalized Brand Organization Wide In addition to branding your Intranet sometimes it can be useful to create a ‘persona’ who represents the Intranet or makes the Intranet more personable.
Posters Organization Wide There are many ways in which posters can support awareness and eventually adoption of a new system, process or technology. What’s important is to understand that typically these are meant for awareness building, and hype creation, not necessarily training (though there are always exceptions).
Provide Regular Improvements or New Releases Organization Wide Providing regular improvements means there is always something new to try or new uses to share and spark/cultivate curiosity. Even announcing major and minor releases can add a sense of continued investment in the platform from the business.
Seed Content Team to Organization Wide When introducing anything new it is important to have useful and relevant information already there so that users know it is safe to share, what they can share, and have another reason for accessing/using the system.
SharePoint Olympics Department to Organization Wide Run a SharePoint like Olympics (series of competitions) for the organization. See this video that explains the concept in greater depth:
SharePoint Showcase Organization Wide When new solutions are developed by IT or the business that leverage SharePoint it can be extremely useful to showcase the solution. Who owns it, what its purpose is, what benefit it has provided (ROI would be great), screen shots, and more. This often leads to two useful things:1.
Users engage with one another (the owner of the solution is often a business person) which decreases cost of ownership for IT and expedites the requirements gathering process (when the business user says I want ‘that’).2.
It encourages those who have adopted or are using the platform to share their successes, be proud of them, and to have them articulated in a consistent way.
Site or Department or Team Spotlight / Highlight Department to Organization Wide Most intranets, portals, and especially SharePoint sites have many new sites or older sites that exist. Highlighting a specific site can greatly help improve adoption/usage of that site or help improve visibility to what scenarios and situations employees are using the intranet to collaborate.
Submit Success Story Individual to Organization Wide By adding a button or option to allow users to submit success stories (related to the portal/intranet) it can lead to many people initiating the submission or sharing of success messages (which shows the value, and helps provide real personal stories of how it helps).
Surveys / Polls / Feedback Department to Organization Wide Not only running surveys, but also announcing/sharing when survey responses are acted on or used to assist a major decision.
Take Out Menus Team to Organization Wide Alternative to Lunch Menu(s) for internal cafeterias often having a collection of easily accessed, printed restaurant menus will give employees one more reason to become familiar with the portal or intranet.
Top Searches Team to Organization Wide Often if one employee searches for something it is probable that other employees will also search for it. By having this easily accessible and interactive it can save employees time and can bolster adoption.
Visitors/People Out Of Office Team to Organization Wide More viable if you have a large security office that tracks this information already.
Weather Team to Organization Wide Depending on your organization it is also often critical to know the weather conditions in other offices, for logistical reasons, or due to the nature of your work. Having this information available on the portal can also increase adoption.
World Clocks Department to Organization Wide One of the common difficulties users have when interacting in a global company is determining what time it is in other offices. Rather than them navigating/exploring the internet or needing to ask which time zone Office XYZ is in, by using a third party component or free options you can easily create world clocks on your portal giving users one more reason to visit.


Am I missing some common User Adoption activities you see in your work? Please let me know what they are in the comments below and I will update the list accordingly.

Hope this helps,
Richard Harbridge

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris Watling January 12, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I was just wondering if you have any documentation about how to implement some of the above suggestions in Sharepoint. We have sharepoint foundation 2010 and implementing item 3 on the above list “Adding Print This Page Functionality” is proving difficult. We are trying to have a global print button to make it easier and consistent for user.

Any suggestions?


2 Richard Harbridge January 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Sure do! Almost every item on that list I have personally done in some fashion. 🙂

The only public facing example I think I have of a SharePoint version of print this page and SharePoint is at It was an older project (back when SP07 had just come out to the public) but it just used some styling tricks really.

If you look on all pages they have a print this page feature. The code if you do a bit of exploring is all publically available as well. It just uses Window.Print() and styling. Notice that on print it will remove the master page elements that don’t matter and use a simplified representation of the page.

Let me know if this helps!


3 Mick Johnson March 5, 2012 at 12:00 am

Hi Richard,
Some great ideas I had not thought of. My question is around providing online training and support for users of a new SP portal. I am a trainer charged with creating online materials to support the deployment of a new business intelligence portal (reports, dashboards, Excel Services, etc) in SP10. I am brand new to elearning and I don’t have SP to play with yet, so I am trying to find out what options I will have to display support material on a SP page so as to provide maximum support for users. For example how do SP help pages display on the screen, what options I have to change this also use use things like tooltips and other secondary pages to display supporting material. I’ve found info on the web re customising help content but nothing about options for presenting material. Any help about what options we have, and perhaps any examples you know of, would be very, very gratefully received.
Kind regards,


4 Richard Harbridge April 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm

That is a pretty broad question. Perhaps I am misinterpreting it though.

You can change pages using the OOTB web based interface, SharePoint Designer, and through customizations you deploy and build using Visual Studio.

However what I think you are looking for is almost ‘ideas’ around how you might visualize things in SharePoint. For that there are two free resources from Microsoft that deploy interesting modules/site collections that might be worth a look. The Productivity Hub for SharePoint has some really smart/intelligent design elements and effects that highlight learning/material and has a lunch module that does a few minor but interesting things. Deploy both of those (it’s not hard) and take a look at them. I bet they will help you get a feeling for what is possible with minor effort in SharePoint for your use case.

Hope this helps,


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