We all know that training your users on how to use the Widen Collective® is important. If you don’t train them, they won’t know how to use the tool and, eventually, they’ll give up on using it altogether. But training them can be difficult if you’re unsure of where to start. The first step is always listening to users and figuring out what they need. Start by asking questions such as, “How can I help you use the Widen Collective more efficiently?” But what if the response is, “What’s the Widen Collective?” This very well may be the starting point for some organizations, as was the case with Brady Corporation.
Brady is a manufacturer of safety identification products such as safety signs, industrial printers, and high-performance labels. Brady first started using the Collective, which they call the BradyLibrary, about 13 years ago. It’s used by several of Brady’s businesses, houses over 70,000 assets, and both employees and distributors use the system.
Valerie DeCleene is a graphic designer on the Marketing Communications team at Brady and is also the part-time admin for the BradyLibrary. She wears many hats in her role as she handles layout design, catalog production, product imagery, and, of course, DAM administration.
When she first inherited the DAM system, it was a complete mess. She wanted to make the tool usable for herself and the other graphic designer that used the system, so she had to perform about three years of DAM cleanup. After the cleanup, Valerie thought many users would find the DAM helpful, but like most things that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t an if-you-build-it-they-will-come type of scenario because there were still lots of requests for files and questions about where people can find assets. The DAM system was working for the designers and for the small Marketing Communications team, but no one else was using it, despite there being so much more potential.
So Valerie started promoting the DAM system to people who worked closely with the Marketing Communications team during the content creation process. Starting close to her own department was her low-hanging fruit approach. This group slowly began to realize the DAM system was an excellent way for them to access content the Marketing Communications team had created for them. As use of the system increased, Valerie noticed opportunities where training would not only help get more teams into the BradyLibrary, but using the BradyLibrary would help them in their day-to-day responsibilities.
For example, Valerie’s team was participating in a trade show held during their annual sales and marketing meeting. Her goal was to relaunch the DAM system to the Sales team after she completed the big cleanup. Whenever anyone came to their booth, she would ask them about the BradyLibrary. She quickly realized she needed to change the question from, “Do you use the BradyLibrary?” to a more general “Do you know what the BradyLibrary is?” The blank stares she received in response to these questions were all the information she needed to know that there was a serious need for training.
Based on this feedback, Valerie started to spend a considerable amount of time simply making people aware of the BradyLibrary. She did this by simply having conversations with her users about the Collective and showing them how it could help them in their work. After a while, she started to get different kinds of questions. Rather than, “Can you send me this file?,” she started getting questions like, “How do I access this?,” “How do I download?,” or “How do I open a PDF once I download it?” This is when Valerie realized that while making people aware of the BradyLibrary was great and an important step, it wasn’t going to be enough. Just like building it wasn’t enough. There was one more step: training.
Training is a vast topic and it can be difficult to know where to start. A good place is always talking with your users. Valerie started by thinking about all the questions people had been asking her, like how to access the system, how to search, etc. Those questions shed light into what was stopping users from accomplishing their tasks. After gathering all of this information, she needed to figure out what information and techniques she could show them that would help them better understand how to use the system.
Understanding your users is one of the most important aspects of training. Not all users are the same. Talking to everyone is important, because you may not know who is or isn’t using the tool. As Valerie talked with more of her users, she realized her user base was growing, not just with power users and admins, but with casual users who didn’t access the system very often.
After talking with them, Valerie realized that many users just needed to learn the basics. She found that the people who had the most trouble were the ones who weren’t as tech-savvy, and it wasn’t just about teaching them the what, but also the why. Many times training is simply explaining to someone why the system is set up or working a certain way.
For example, BradyLibrary contains U.S. and European assets. But because of overlap between the teams, it wasn’t possible to split those assets into separate user/asset group pairings; however, Valerie was able to set up categories for the two regions, so users could quickly get to just the U.S. files or just the European files. Then she explained to users why the BradyLibrary had to be set up like that and how they could easily access files this way. Valerie did this because she believes if her users understand why they have to click a category, they’re much more likely to remember that feature and use it.
After talking with and researching her users, Valerie determined the next step would be teaching her casual users the basics of DAM. These were the people who needed training the most because they didn’t know what features were available, why things were set up the way they were, and what searching techniques were going to be the biggest help to them. Focusing on the basics for casual users eventually freed up time to provide more advanced training for those who requested it.
With this casual user in mind, Valerie made sure all of the training resources she created had very clean, simple instructions and used pictures and screenshots whenever possible. This helped make the information easily digestible. It was important to create these resources because many of the casual users were only going to be using the system once or twice a month, so they would most likely forget what they learned in training and need a cheat sheet to refer back to.
Let’s get into what resources Valerie created for her users. The first resource she created was an in-depth user guide to be given to any user who was having trouble with the system and was looking for a resource to answer their questions. It goes over how to get access to the system, how to navigate the dashboard, how to search, and more. The guide leverages content from the Collective support pages with screenshots and examples from the BradyLibrary to provide an informative and customized piece for Brady users.
The guide started out as a five-page document, but evolved to close to 20 pages. This was because as more questions came up and things changed in the DAM system — whether they were an admin change or updates Widen made — the manual needed to be updated with new screenshots. It was important to keep that resource current because people referred to it often, and if it wasn’t consistently updated they would start to lose trust in their admin and stop using the guide and the system.
Another more interactive resource that Valerie created was a handout with an engagement game. Once again, her team was participating in the trade show at their annual sales meeting. Since she had spent the last two years promoting awareness of the BradyLibrary, she thought it would be fun to play a game at their trade show booth. The game involved people coming to the booth and picking a card. Since the theme of the sales meeting was cars and racing, she followed that theme and called them “back seat driver” cards (which were simply question cards) and “take the wheel” cards (which required the person to go onto a computer and perform a task within the BradyLibrary).
Since sales teams are competitive by nature, they pitted each regional sales team against each other for bragging rights. Little did Valerie know that after playing the game, many of of the team members would go find the rest of their team to come and play too, in order to rack up more points for their team. It was wonderful because it increased the exposure of her message tremendously. While people were watching the game or waiting to play, Valerie was able to talk to them about the BradyLibrary and give them the handout
The handout Valerie gave her users.
She created the handout because she knew she would only have a few minutes to talk to people at the booth, which wasn’t enough time for someone to read the whole BradyLibrary manual. The handout called out pain points that she’d heard from users and simple tips to help them get around those pain points. The pain points were in a highlighted box called “Traffic Jam” and Valerie gave them a “Shortcut” to solve the problem. She also included a brief description of what the BradyLibrary is and how to access it. “It was great to be able to show them that we’ve been listening to them and trying to personalize the training to them,” she said.
All of these resources are fantastic, but none of them matter if your users can’t find them. Valerie found the that the dashboard is one of the easier ways to get training and resources in front of users, since the dashboard is the first thing people see when entering the DAM system. If someone gets stuck the first time they use the system, or the 100th time, those resources are immediately available. She updates the dashboard any time a new resource is created or updated. She also keeps the names and email addresses of important contacts for each of Brady’s regions (such as Latin America, Europe, and the U.S.) on the dashboard.
Additionally, there’s a gray box that contains a Library quick tip that gets changed every month or two. It’s just another way she gets information in front of her users. Quick tips are pulled from the same topics and techniques that she covers in the user guide, the handouts, and in the training session; she’s just repeating these messages in different formats and locations.
The BradyLibrary dashboard. The ‘Library Quick Tip’ is in the gray box.
Valerie definitely encourages repurposing of content. That’s the reason she started with an in-depth user guide. It was a longer piece of content that she could quickly create a handout from, then an in-person training session, and then a webinar. Another way she repurposes her content is from the quick tip on the dashboard; she repeats that same message in a monthly newsletter. Messages stay out there for a while before she moves on to the next topic. The same topic or message may even be repeated a few months later as a refresher or for those that might be new. “Don’t be afraid to approach all this like you would market your products/services. The only difference is that your DAM is the product, and your customers/buyers are your employees/users,” she said.
Likewise, if someone asks Valerie a question about the BradyLibrary, Valerie will answer their question and provide them an additional resource that can also answer their question and is a reference they can refer to in the future. It’s also a reminder that there are resources available and they don’t always have to rely on her for help.
Furthermore, Valerie makes sure to keep her resources current. It can very easy to let this slide, especially if you’re a part-time admin like her, but it’s important to take a look at your resources every time you make a change to your site. Also, if you’re working in the DAM system and notice something new, that’s probably a good indication that you should take a look at your resources for updates, too. It’s a lot easier to do maintenance along the way than to have it pile up and become a bigger project later on. Not to mention the last thing you want to do is to lose your users’ trust.
Valerie put together a training session for those who wanted more guided walk through of the site, and after the game at the sales meeting, many people actually reached out asking to play it again and for training. So, Valerie put together in-person training as well as webinar training for those working across the country.
A slide from the training presentation.
While creating her training presentation, Valerie took a look at what she had created before and aimed to repurpose the information that she had already put together in the user guide, handouts, and topics covered during the game. It was really all of the same information, just presented in a different format for a live training session. She reflected on learning experiences she’s had and thought about how she has never liked just being lectured at, so she wanted to make the training fun. She also wanted to make the trainees feel as though the training is about them and how it can make their lives easier.
Since there was so much buzz and success around the game at the sales meeting, Valerie incorporated similar activities during the training session. She talked about a topic and searching technique, and then had her users go the BradyLibrary and try it themselves. It wasn’t really about testing them, but more about guiding them through an experience.
A keyword searching training activity.
One of the topics revolved around the fact that her users were using keyword search, but they were using very generic keywords that returned too many search results. For example, Brady sells printers and one of them is called the BBP31. But since there is so much content associated with that printer (brochures, sell sheets, videos, manuals, hundreds of images, etc.), a user gets over 1,400 search results if they search by just “BBP31.” It’s like going to the grocery store and asking for cereal. Well, there’s an entire aisle, you have to be more specific than that.
During training, Valerie walked through examples like this to get users familiar with the metadata structure and showed them how adding a second keyword like brochure helps make their search faster and more effective. While searching “BBP31” gave them over 1,400 results, searching “BBP31 brochure” gave them only 17.
Valerie first held in-person training sessions for the customer service and inside sales groups. Then she presented webinar sessions for the external sales teams and product marketing teams who were in different locations. However, she found the webinar training to be a bit trickier due to different time zones and the fact that salespeople have extremely busy schedules. To solve this, she scheduled three webinar sessions on varying days and times. She made sure to give them plenty of time to sign up in order to reach as many people as possible and to get the best turnout. She also recorded the webinar so that it could be shared with anyone who couldn’t attend.
The resource Valerie gives her users after training.
After the training, Valerie provides her users with the resource above. It’s a special handout that she created with the top 10 things she wanted them to remember from the training session. She tried to make it a good cheat sheet they could hang on their cube walls, because in some cases it would be two to three weeks before they’d be back in the BradyLibrary. With all of that time in between, she knew it would be difficult for them to remember what they’d learned in the training session without any sort of reminder.
Another tip Valerie has is to keep your users informed and engaged in between training sessions by talking about the DAM. The more you talk about the DAM, the more the next person is going to talk about it, and so on. Do what you can to make sure they have a good experience and communicate exactly how it’s going to benefit them. If you get positive DAM rumor going around, more people will get engaged.
The biggest goal for Valerie’s team has always been to get more people using the BradyLibrary. Although it’s been a lot of work and a long road through the years, Valerie believes that she has users who are more self-reliant and thinking about the BradyLibrary first, rather than coming to the Marketing Communications team and waiting for requests to be fulfilled. This saves them time and allows Valerie to spend more time on other aspects of her role.
“It’s kind of cool because now people come to me when they want things added to the Library so others can access them as well. I am definitely known as the go-to person for the BradyLibrary, which is great because that means people are listening,” she says.
Another goal for Valerie’s team was to start a ripple effect and keep it going. Since Valerie is just one person and her reach only goes so far, she needed current users to start sharing the benefits of the DAM system with others around the company. They accomplished this by talking about the Library and creating the resources to get people talking about it. Many people reached out to Valerie for training because they had heard of the BradyLibrary, the game, or how BradyLibrary could benefit them in their jobs.
Finally, Valerie wanted to make the experience with the the system as smooth and seamless as possible. Training resources that were visually simple and easy to use allowed users to get into the system and start using it right away, instead of have to overcome a large learning curve. The easier it was to use, the more likely people were to adopt it.
Creating your own DAM training
After hearing this DAM success story, you’re probably wondering about your own users and what kind of training they need. Valerie has provided a lot of tips throughout the article, but we wanted to put them into a quick list you can reference while planning your own training sessions.
- Let your frequent users and early adopters create a ripple effect. Think of it as a pyramid. If you tell two people and they tell two people, then you can reach a broader audience. The super users and early adopters recognize the value of the DAM system and create a ripple effect to pass that excitement along to others.
- Talk to your users to see where they’re stuck. Surveys are a great way to start if you need to get feedback from a big audience. Check out this resource for sample survey questions.
- Train your users to work with metadata and not against it. Training users to use search terms that align with the metadata structure will return more effective results and happier users! Educate them to see how the metadata is set up to help them. Encourage them to not search blindly with keywords. Use those filters!
- Find opportunities to get in front of your users, whether it’s live or virtual. Look for opportunities where users will be together, especially if this only happens once a year. See how you can get onto the agenda at live events. Get to new hires before they have a chance to get frustrated or get bad habits.
- Have a standard training and customize it for your audience. Sales teams care about different things more than customer service teams. Switch up your examples to help each group become more invested by seeing exactly what they can find in the Collective to help them.
- Train users using the same roles and permissions that your training group has. It’s very confusing for users to see information during training that they will not have access to when they log in.
- Make training interactive and fun. Add activities into your live trainings to help users get comfortable in the system. If they’re just watching a demo they may still be too intimidated to try logging in once they get back to their desk. Logging in and searching in a group can put people at ease, making the next time they log in a breeze.
- Practice what you preach. If you tell people to use share links, then you should use share links, too.
- Leverage a graphic designer, if possible. Designers can help you lay out something that is simple to digest and easy to look at. These are the things your users hang on to or hang on their cube walls.
- Look at other examples. See what other Widen customers are doing or look online to find examples that you can recreate. This is especially helpful if you do not have a graphic designer to ask for help.
- Keep time zones in mind. When you’re training people around the country or around the globe, recognize that not everyone is going to be available at the same time. So consider having different sessions to deliver the same content in order to reach more people.
- Prioritize. Training doesn’t happen overnight. Taking small steps or aiming for the low-hanging fruit (e.g., starting in your own department). This will help you flesh out training and allow the training to evolve as you roll it out to different groups.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. With both training and engagement, just keep talking about it. The more you say Collective, the more it will stick in people’s heads, and the more people will remember to use it.
DAM is not a case of if-you-build-it-they-will-come. First you have to make your users aware that you have built it, then you need to show them how to use it and how it will make their work easier and benefit their role. If you’d like to start talking to your users, here are sample questions for a DAM user feedback survey. And if you’d like to see what other customers are doing, visit our Contest page.