What ? and the Mysterians can teach us about intranet management

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…


One Response to What ? and the Mysterians can teach us about intranet management

  1. […] 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 […]

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