One of my clients surprised me recently by letting me know how many people had read the intranet content I’d faithfully written for them – and how many of those had taken the trouble to rate the content as helpful. In all my years of being involved in developing intranet content for comms teams, this was a first.
In too many organisations, content owners – particularly those from a traditional marketing or communications background – invest time and effort creating content for their intranet but then assume that, once it’s uploaded, their job is done. The news item, video or announcement is up there, so surely that means the message has been communicated. Right, onto the next task…
That ‘launch and leave’ approach might allow communicator to tell senior managers: “See how we helped you with your communication challenge – look at all those lovely new pages.” But it’s a recipe for cluttering up an intranet with content that’s of low value to users and the organisation and that may just get in the way of people finding what they need.
Few organisations bother to track even the most rudimentary stats: how many people clicked on the new content, the time they spent on the page, the bounce rate, the extent to which on-page links were clicked.
As George Bernard Shaw said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Fewer still take it to the next level by gauging how interesting and helpful users found the content or doing any usability testing to spot problems to fix and identify what to do better next time. After all, far more important than how many people looked at the content is whether it actually helped employees complete their task – booking a meeting room, understanding the disciplinary policy, finding out about a colleague’s areas of expertise, getting to grips with the new corporate goals.
Intranet content owners need to catch up with how the best websites are being managed – a relentless focus on the site’s effectiveness in helping users complete their tasks.