Timely and relevant guidance for ORCID users while they are accessing their records can be a real challenge. We often find that they would like help at the point of service, either to guide them in completing their current task, to help them prepare for something they are about to do, or to give some idea of where to go or what to do next.
Regular feedback from the ORCID community, in particular our newest users, suggests that many feel overwhelmed when dropped into their new, empty ORCID record and left to fend for themselves. The challenge when looking to improve this experience is how to deliver assistance to those who need it while remaining unobtrusive for those who don’t.
ORCID helps users while they update their records
We are delighted to share that we recently launched the ability to deliver unobtrusive messages, help, and guidance to new users while they are editing their ORCID records. These messages include flagging reminders for incomplete tasks, highlighting new features and benefits, delivering on-demand help, guidance and confirmation, or simply increasing user engagement by “touching base” every now and then.
We are doing this through a kind of platform called In-Product Messaging (IPM), and the company we chose to work with is called HelpHero (helphero.co). As ORCID is a non-profit, our requirements were for a comprehensive set of features and robust security and privacy controls for a reasonable cost that lets us reach out to our users without drawing precious development resources away from the never-ending task of making the ORCID registry better.
Helping new ORCID users add helpful data, as quickly as possible
Our goal with introducing this in-record guidance is to encourage new users to add verified information to their ORCID record as soon as possible. Specifically, we want to increase the number of new users adding affiliation (such as where they work or where they received their education) and/or work (such as publications) data to their record and increase the number of new users verifying one or more email addresses—both within 30 days of registration. This will help researchers both with discoverability and can provide an easy means for them to retain consistent access to their records should their professional email change.
Initially we decided to target new ORCID users with a default browser/OS language set as English (EN). English language users account for just under half of all new ORCID registrants, around 25,000 per week. We also recently introduced versions of existing components in Spanish and Portuguese Brazilian (the second and third most popular languages in the registry).
Improving the experience for new ORCID record holders
We started by creating two simple step-by-step tours that show new users how to add this key information to their ORCID record. For new users, the quickest way to add value to their record is to add a validated employment affiliation and then start importing their works.
The two tours—Add an Affiliation and Start Importing Your Works—were grouped into a “Getting started” checklist that went live in October 2022. The checklist was shown to new users who have yet to add either of these trust markers to their record.
To help smooth out the new-user journey, we designed two welcome panels that went live in December 2022 to be shown at key points of the onboarding process. These panels are friendly, succinct, and easily dismissable. The first panel appears immediately after registration and showcases the user’s new ORCID ID. It also encourages them to verify their email address so they can get full editing access to their record.The second panel is shown after the user has successfully verified an email address. The panel confirms that their record is fully editable and gives suggestions as to what to do next.
Creating value for researchers
IPM can be used to flag things up, to point things out, to guide, to introduce and to highlight. Now that the checklists and welcome panels have been running for a few months, we can begin to measure IPM’s engagement and effectiveness.
Already we can see a measurable increase of about 20% in the number of new users adding either a work or an affiliation to their record within 30 days. Though this seems a modest increase, this translates into about 3,000 users per month who are now populating their records who were not before we implemented IPM.
This suggests we are moving in the right direction with this approach, and is in line with expectations, especially considering many new users sign up with ORCID with an immediate purpose in mind (such as applying for funding, submitting an article, or reporting their outputs). These users may not be immediately aware of the other value they can derive from having an ORCID, and having this data added to their records can help them realize that more quickly.
Next up: task completion and more
At ORCID we develop features in an iterative fashion. We start small, designing solutions that we can quickly prototype and release to the public.
The next steps for IPM in the registry will focus on how we can tie tour completion more closely with actual task completion, which will help us continue to refine our existing IPM content as we understand more about how our users are engaging with it.
Finally, we will be working closely with HelpHero to put in place improvements to the accessibility of the IPM components. Eventually we plan to roll out IPM to all our users, regardless of how new they are, to prompt them to add connections or add data that may be missing.
In the meantime, if you are an existing ORCID record holder, you won’t see IPM, but we encourage you to take a few moments to spruce up your record anyway. You can check your visibility preferences, make sure you’ve allowed for auto-updates, or add your biography to help viewers identify your record in search results and help ensure your record is more discoverable by your peers and colleagues