In February, we offered up some tough love with our post describing 14 horrible features that we’d all seen on intranets over the years. It became a confessional with practitioners globally admitting the error of their ways, whilst others defended their use of weather widgets, timezone clocks and “click here” links.
Some actions can never be defended. Never.
In volume two, we offer up further intranet horrors that some intranet managers call features and we call signs you’ve lost the plot. Use this watershed to confess all. Do you do any of these?
1. “Here you will find” text: Intranet pages need to be clear, concise and without an ounce of unnecessary fat. If you really have to explain what a user will find on the page with some “Here you will find…” text, you’re doing it wrong. Try showing your users what’s on the page by actually laying it out clearly. They’ll thank you for it.
2. Splash pages of any kind (including “Click here to enter”): People! Really! Most of your employees just about tolerate your intranet and that’s about as much love for your hard work as you can reasonably expect. Don’t make them hate you — make the site as easy and as quick as you can to get to the bits they need. Never, under any circumstance, add a page that serves only to slow them down from doing the things they should be doing.
3. Marquees (scrolling text): Marquees: Scrolling text. Good grief. These should be consigned to the same dustbin as ‘under construction’ signs, scrunchies and harem pants. Quite apart from being difficult to read, they are – without exception – mighty ugly. Don’t even think about it.
4. Rating stars: Yes, I know — I’ll upset lots of people with that one, but really, they’re a pointless piece of intranet theatre that are blithly added with little thought. Think about it: When someone uses a rating feaure, what are they rating?? Is it the story, the picture, the tone, the chap in the article, the fact that it’s about the latest must have company product or the fact that you adore the author? And once you’ve rated the article, what do intranet managers do with the data? Do they use it to change their writing style, their picture choices, the article sentiment, their perfume or the product mentioned? No, they don’t, because they have no single idea why any one rated it the way they did. Rating systems are just meaningless space fillers unless they have clear context.
5. Images with instructional text: Not only is this possibly illegal, it’s also plain stupid. Employees with visual impairment may not be able to read the text in the image and thus, not be able to follow your instruction. Your search will never pick it up, and it rarely renders properly on anyone using a mobile device. Do yourself a favour, images show images, use text for text.
6. Snowflakes (or other seasonal nonsense): Most of your employees will be acutely aware that Christmas approaches and will not need snow added to the intranet header graphic as a pointer. Most of your employees have calendars. Just in case you’re tempted, please don’t add ‘sun’ for summer, ‘falling leaves’ for Autumn/Fall or lambs (yes, you heard me) to show it’s Spring.
7. Varying text sizes within the one sentence: A properly crafted sentence can easily indicate emphasis, so there is precisely no need to vary the size of the font. Please. PLEASE. Never do that.
8a. Use of the phrase “My[X]“: pssst! Tony Blair and George W. Bush are no longer world-leaders. It’s not 2002 anymore!
8b. …and no, i[X] isn’t cool either: When Apple did it, it was original and gave them a strong brand. On your intranet it looks like a desperate attempt to appear “bang on trend”. This is the intranet equivalent of dad dancing.
9. Mystery Meat Navigation: Navigation elements that don’t reveal themselves until you mouseover. Why the secret? Your employees don’t have time to be teased with your intranet navigation — they’ve got places to go! Hopefully, they’re busy people!
10. Blink text: Just because HTML is capable, doesn’t mean that you should. This is not a demonstration of your knowledge of obscure coding, this is your corporate intranet. Text that blinks can only be read half of the time, people…