The Crooners quiz

April 22, 2008

The Shakespeare quiz had 14 people complete it. However over 30 people looked at the front page…. was it too intimidating?  Highest score was 7.

Well I’m enjoying doing them so here’s another:

The Crooner Quiz

I’ll get back to posting articles about pop music and intranets soon. But I think there is an interesting lesson about return of investment here.

The concept that got me thinking about quizzes was the puzzle about the time it takes to create content versus how much it engages people, what’s the best effort to value ratio?

If I just wrote a bunch of stuff about 40s crooners in text it would have a low creation cost, it would be fine for reference – but it wouldn’t really engage anybody, if I made a multimedia extravaganza it could take days and days – and that would be for each time I did it.

I recorded roughly how I wrote this one.

5:45 Decide to do a new quiz, argue with my wife for ten minutes about which subject to do, she’s not keen on “mid 80s industrial post punk”.

5.55 Decide to do “Crooners”. Make a start by reading wikipedia and I cut and paste interesting trivia into a text editor.

6.10 Am reminded its my turn to make the tea.

6.55 Get back to the computer, I edit my snippets into questions, grab some images from wikipedia too.

7.00 Finish draft text version which I show to my wife, she’s doesn’t think Johnny Mathis is a crooner and so I replace him, she thinks we should have a Paul Anka question but I can’t find anything interesting to say about him.

7.10 Pasted all the questions to my quiz edit form and its live.

So by my reckoning that’s 30 minutes writing and less that 10 minutes ‘publishing’ now that I’ve written a quiz editor, and even that was longer than it needed to be because, well, I kept getting distracted with reading other things in wikipedia… did you know it was Bing Crosby’s daughter who shot JR? Plus I had the down time of making the tea, and you can’t really have a ‘is Johnny Mathis a crooner’ debate in less than five minutes…

OK so maybe the crooner quiz isn’t the most interesting thing ever written, but it is quite a good effort to engagement ratio… Well it will be once I write a quiz on something people are interested in.

Let me know how you got on with the quiz in the comments – obviously you can boast about your high scores too.

I was going to add in a you tube video of early 80s Edinburgh teen pop/punk group The Questions, but I can’t find any, they were signed to Paul Wellers record label ‘respond’ and backed Tracy who had a hit with ‘the house that jack built’. Its perhaps just as well I din’t find anything, I have a terrible feeling they weren’t nearly as good as I remember.

Quiz update

April 19, 2008

Just a quickie to mention that I finally got around to doing my quiz, you can read up on why I’m experimenting on quiz design in this previous posting.

Here’s a beta of a Shakespeare one – let me know how you get on.

I’ll be doing these occasionally as part of the blog, hopefully more relevant to something I’m talking about.

I was wanting to embed these into the actual blog posting, like with your tube video, but I can’t work out how – anyone help? (iframes????)

Can intranet managers survive on their good looks alone?

April 8, 2008

In the middle of my posting about the ‘boring’ problem, I suggested that difficulty with boring websites in an intranet was that a common solution was to add in some fancy graphics.

However a more common scenario in a large company intranet is to get the design group, or an external agency designer to put the fancy graphics in first, fill the pages with “placeholder text” and ask for sign off / approval.

Usually the design is in powerpoint slides, or static images in pdf format and the approval often boils down to ‘does the sponsoring department think this looks cool’

That’s a bad way to do things.

How to assess a design properly

The important aspects of a design are (in order)

  • Is it functional and efficient
  • Is it accessible
  • Is it extendable
  • Is it maintainable

None of these features are easy to determine from looking at slideware. Often the people originating the design won’t consider these factors, and we end up with a cool looking site which is difficult to maintain looks shabby and ill-fitting after a few tweaks.

Tenuous pop music reference

For the pop music link, here’s an interesting example. Jobraith was a mid 70s glam performer most famous for being a total failure, launched with a huge publicity campaign, the audience stayed away in droves.

It’s not hard to hear why, but it is a fun video for people fond of 70s kitch.

What ? and the Mysterians can teach us about intranet management

April 1, 2008

Try this pop quiz. Fun wasn’t it? I scored 19. I didn’t know the Status Quo chart hits and had obliterated Pookah Makes Three from my memory.

‘Coffee time’ quizzes are a good way to get people to use, understand and return to a website – and learning what makes a quiz work is a good way of learning about your users, a quiz is a microcosm of the issues that arise from all websites.

You can analyse a quiz in the same way you can analyse a website. Work out what makes a quiz good and you’ve worked out how to make your website visitors happy.

There is the interface: what helps and what gets in the way of the objective (answering the questions)? The Guardian quiz uses radiobuttons, and I’ve seen ones that use pulldowns. Radiobuttons are OK here, pulldowns, not so much, but I think the optimum is that the text of the answer is a clicky.

There is the user satisfaction: It’s very hard to resist the temptation to get in the way and try to inject a little too much learning into each question, use the discipline of minimal space to make the words of the question count.

There is the content creation: Make the questions interesting and thoughtful. The Status Quo question in the Guardian is neither. Just as there is a writing style and a writing tone that works well on web page writing, there is style and tone to most good questions. The style should be helpful, a hint is always welcome as it makes a hard question easier but still feels like answering a hard question!

There is maintenance: People will only do a quiz once. If you are using a quiz to encourage returning users change it frequently, so you need to think about how good your quiz creator is. Maintenance and keeping content fresh is often forgotten in intranet projects.

There is the consistency: for a simple coffee time quiz each question should have the same format, in the Guardian quiz it was a short text question and four answers. Is four the right amount for maximum quiz fun? Meh, I think three is slightly better, and you don’t have so many wrong answers to think up. I hate all those ‘pick three from seven’ or ‘all that apply from ten’. Its too easy to get wrong because of the interface rather than not actually knowing.. and that’s just annoying.

And most importantly, remember why you are doing this. That’s how you asses a website and how you asses if a quiz is good. Usually it’s for coffee time fun, you aren’t awarding a PhD. Just trying to attract people, get them thinking a bit, but you aren’t lecturing to them.

There are quite a lot of online quiz creators, but almost all of them offer too many features and so become over complicated – that’s a shame, I think restricting the format to be as simple as possible makes the quiz author focus on the important issues – good questions.

Here’s another quiz example Questionaut –  it’s great fun (warning! its also a great time waster!) , though I’m not suggesting it’s a model to use, the flash bits make it a maintenance problem.

There are a free open source tools for simple surveys that would make good quiz makers (example) but since the aim is to keep it simple its not a difficult thing to write.

Since none of these actually fitted my needs I currently writting my own and I’ll add in an example here once I get some hosting issues fixed. I’ll follow my own very restricted format and you can all see if my theory that “less is more” when it comes to quizzes holds water.

Please add in to the comments any good quizzes you find on the net and we can all talk about what is good and bad in the format. If you find any good online quiz creator applications – especially ones that would work well embedded on an intranet site, let us all know too.

Tenuous pop music link to this is the all time classic 60s garage band standard 96 tears, it has everything a perfect song needs – the monstrous self pity, the brutally primitive farfisa riff, the strange vocal inflection… y’know it doesn’t get any better than this really, stripped down to the basics, and single-mindedly doing the basics really well, that’s what makes things, be the pop songs or intranets work really well, not the bells and whistles…