Intranet Carousels Teach a Harsh Lesson in Reality

Products: SharePoint (All)

Premise: The use of image carousels on an intranet is distracting, consumes prime page real estate and is largely ignored by the majority of users.

An intranet is like the front door of a house or a business.  The front door often provides the best experience for building a first impression about who and what is on the inside.  You want to put your best foot forward with a good looking front door, a spacious entry for greeting guests and storing clothing (eg. coats, hats, boots, gloves) and a grand view of experiencing what’s next; especially, if you have the square footage that provides for an open floor plan.  You don’t want any distractions just inside the door that repulse or push or cause confusion.  The entry needs to say “You are Welcome Here.!” It needs to be inviting to the “max”.

Yet, this is not the feeling experienced by many users as they enter the front door of their intranet.  Once the door shuts behind them, the room turns black, the spotlights turn on and there is no where else they can turn.  They feel trapped and abandoned.  There may be little or no sense of “You are Here?”  It’s no wonder, users are dis-oriented with their intranet.

Here’s a few half-truthful reasons why site owners may think carousels and animated images may be necessary on their site:

  • there is not enough relevant content on the site, so let’s add an image/story carousel
  • being a captive employee of the company is not enough, so let’s consume the most important real estate of the home page with a series of rotating images to keep them interested in the site
  • we need more glitter to attract the attention of employees, so let’s add an animated GIF or maybe five (5) of them
  • we need a top 10 scrolling list of articles/stories instead of a top 5 so users have to wait longer to view all of them; if that doesn’t work, we may adjust the wait time between transitions from 5 seconds to 15 seconds

I think it is great that site owners are interested in attracting the attention of users and attempting to retain the users on their site for long periods of time.  The problem is that this attention grabbing strategy usually results in both wasted time and wasted $$$.

The main thing that intranet users want is summed up with three (3) words:

  • information
  • information
  • information

Intranet users want information . . .

  • in bite size chunks (just the right size for scanning a page; not reading)
  • that is accurate and truthful (so they can use it as facts in their deliverables)
  • that is easily consumed or fed into their process

I had a conversation with one of my clients today about this very topic of carousels being a horrific distraction to intranet users.  Our conversation hit a dead end as I sensed it was “out of her control”.  Someone else was calling the shots and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

It is so sad to hear and then see the inspiration being sucked out of great people who really do want to do a great job but are tasked with these one liner expectations of “just get it done” from their boss.  So so sad!  Such a tragedy.  Her exact quote follows:

“I hear ya. But I’m also a little lemming who just wants a site like everyone else so the people above me will be happy.”

There is no time to do it right or to perform above the line or to produce something so that she feels fulfilled, happy and satisfied about a job well done at the end of the day.  Like so many others in the work world, the term collaboration and empowerment and responsibility are just words that we use.  Fortunately and unfortunately, words mean something.  People rely upon them.  That’s how the world works.

The positive spin on this whole thing is that I am not yet finished.  The rest of the story is yet to be written.  There are more walls to break down.  I will pursue to the end.

Update 12/14/13

The conversation continues; I am working with a few business users to bake a better cake.  The concept is that people will resist change unless they see something better or more fun or more intuitive or more useful or better tasting or more colorful, etc.

We are back tracking a bit to put a twist on the styles of the past.  In other words …

  • take time to understand what worked in the past
  • take time to think outside the box
  • remove those things that are no longer relevant
  • bring some new things into the mix
  • repackage some of the content and styles from the old intranet
  • understand
    • the problems we are trying to solve
    • who is involved in the equation and
    • the intranet site content that is a part of the solution and
    • make consumption seamless

Ongoing Steps
– identify the ingredients for the cake recipe
– identify how much of each ingredient is needed
– identify the order of mixing
– identify the mix technique
– identify baking time
– bake at 350
– the pan will be hot; remove from oven carefully
– taste
– re-calibrate and repeat above steps

Resources

Examples of well done Carousels (as of 12/20/13)

I am interested, how has SharePoint affected you?!?!

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This entry was posted in Information Architecture, User Adoption. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Intranet Carousels Teach a Harsh Lesson in Reality

  1. Pingback: Top 13 Intranet User Revelations | The SharePoint Effect

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