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We have a safety training app that shows "x To Do" items on the dashboard and we are trying to drive user engagement on specific components frequently ignored.

Do you think users would be more likely to work on completing tasks if there was a randomly chosen "next on the to-do list" in addition to the currently existing "x surveys to do, x policies to review".

The thought is by making the decision of what to do next for the user they will complete more, and the worry is we are just adding more noise of things to do for the user.

Example dashboard:enter image description here

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    Perhaps you would be better off engaging with the users and trying to identify their reasons as to why they are avoiding doing them. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess they will say "they don't have enough time due to other workloads".
    – musefan
    Jun 2 '20 at 6:47
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This is interesting troubleshoot on user engagement. My assumptions before trying to answer you are:

  1. This is a Dashboard that shows users their set of 'To-Do' things under responsibilites.
  2. Right side of your Dashboard is for features like friend connections, overall highlights of the profile and some 'today perks' and remains constant on the screen as shown.
  3. Ongoing task has something that are things to do "in Process', any feedback responses expected from user, some forms to facilitate something.

Some things to do for users engagement, as you want them to do are:

  1. Keep their progress and ongoing at the first. The first thing they see after loggin in is what is their status of ongoing 'to-do' thing. Highlight the survey tile if they are new ones in a better way, may be by changing the color of the tile whenever there is new one. This takes user attention and also increases the possibility of making it a CTA whenever needed.
  2. Keep the Responsibilities heading. It is a good thought, try adding this below a section that you name as 'Up next to complete' or**'Next 'to-do' to complete'** or 'What's next" or anything catchy you wish to add. This is to make your users act as you want them to. This reduces the proabability of ignorance or skip.
  3. Instead of showing '3 about to exxpire', '1 coming due' show them in the section suggested in point 2 to makes sure the user notices it and acts on it. Adding warning texts are like making and announcing rules that nobody follows. Adding visuals are one of the ways to make user follow what you want them to. When doing so I suggest to take care of the tilte of to-do thing supported by the tag of its category.

Bonus suggestion.

There is a lot of space left beside overall progress at the top. Try shifting right side panel. Because if a user logs in to do something and finds changes in the parameters shown in right panel. Most likely, user is interested to see them instead of taking to-do things. This may lead user to spend time in these and eventually get bored to continue with taking up tasks.

It may help. Thanks

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There's a lot of red "TO DO" on there, which equals stress for a user.

To make it more positive you could reword the messages to read something like:


Certificates

1/7 completed

[Complete next certificate]

With that last being a button.

Also, those tiles are very large and mean users need to scan more of the screen. Can they be reduced without making it look cramped, but enabling users to scan more quickly? Would a table-style layout work better for the users I wonder?

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It depends on who your user is, what type of system they are interacting with and their incentive to complete tasks.

For example, if certain tasks bring more rewards towards a certain goal, users might simply concentrate on those first. In this scenario, the system could concentrate on recommending tasks with high reward first to compliment the user's interests.

A generic to-do list might help some users complete unfinished tasks by adding organization to their work. However, be considerate not to list all 83 tasks at once because it might become overwhelming and discourage, rather than encourage the user. Chunk it out into doable groups, whatever that means for your system.

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