How to solve the ‘make it less boring’ problem.

Actually, I’d really like folks to contribute this time, I’m getting an OKish hit rate of about 20 a day (I’ve not publicised this blog much and I won’t until I build up a few more archives) but getting few comments. C’mon folks feel free to chip in.

The ‘make it less boring’ problem, is the most important thing facing any intranet manager. At conferences it regularly features as the most common moan. I’ve suggested before that its such a problem that you should go to great lengths to avoid letting people make the comment. And the reason it’s a problem is that almost always, the knee jerk fix is to make the site worse.

Things you could do to make a site less boring:

  • reduce the text so that the good stuff is easy to access
  • refresh the content regularly, with a newsdesk or even a blog type feature
  • split up the text and use ‘pull quotes’ to aid scanning
  • measure the efficiency of typical users finding the information they want and prove the site isn’t boring at all, merely efficient.
  • Have little interactive elements such as ‘coffee time quizes’ (but its a fun quiz not an exam!)

Things you shouldn’t do to make a site less boring:

  • Add a flash animation – or any type of animation
  • break long pages into smaller ones with a next link- we’ve all worked out how to horizontally scroll thanks
  • Replace text with images of text

I could do with more user stories here from intranet managers – how did you solve the ‘make it less boring’ puzzle?

The musical piece I’m adding to this is the only you tube track I can find from the mighty Rothko. Its not at all boring.

Rothko were originally a group of three bass players, using this restricted line up the provided several amazing albums of lush and staggeringly beautiful music. Indeed I wish I hadn’t used the phrase ‘restricted line up’ because it wasn’t. But they did get lots of critical comments about why not add vocals and a drummer and a kazoo player… Mainly from people who didn’t notice that it didn’t need those things and adding them would have made the music less special.

Here’s a link to their first album on emuisc

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5 Responses to How to solve the ‘make it less boring’ problem.

  1. shaidorsai says:

    +1 against animations
    +1 for images instead of text
    +1 for “next pages” How can I use Ctrl F on a different page?
    Try using twitterfeed

  2. ketchup says:

    I didn’t realise Rothko had made any music videos…
    The newsfeed for the main intranet page at my work is full of onsite goings on – charity events, promotions, awards, talks etc – I guess this only works if you have lots of things to report.

  3. sandyblair says:

    Hey Kat, thanks for the comment – I won’t name your company, but it is generally thought of in the intranet community as highly regarded. Having a newsfeed of local activities seems to be a bit, um, – well there is nothing wrong with it, its what people like to read – it just seems a missed opportunity somehow once you have the newsfeed platform. Newsfeeds are slowly but quite powerfully spreading though BT as a way to alert people who are interested in what is happening in their fields of interest. I think that embedding an RSS feed into a homepage is working much better than seperate newfeed readers, but it depends on the audience.

  4. Ross says:

    Does it matter if intranet sites are boring? Actually, it only matters if it’s an employee engagement type of site. Other types of content are all about making sure it is available and easy to find at the time people need it. At that time, they need to find it quickly, use it and move on. Boring or not.

    By the way, never come across Rothko before, but loved the track you linked to.

  5. sandyblair says:

    Ross, I don’t think employee engagement sites need over intrusive, non functioning eye candy either – that’s not what stops them being boring.

    It is a valid – and common – criticism to describe something as “boring”, but the solution isn’t a flash based splash page that makes the page more inflexible, unmaintainable, inefficient, and get old very quickly for returning users.

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