Can intranet managers survive on their good looks alone?

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.


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