The question which engages disinterested departments with your intranet

Most of us have a part of our intranet which makes us go ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

We are also likely to have ‘that’ Content Administrator who is always “too busy”, it’s not part of my main job” or “I’ll do it soon” … which never comes.

The chances are that Content Administrator’s content area is our ARGGGGGGHHHH! part, coming up with “No content in this area” or nearly as frustrating, the “thanks for turning up” departmental homepage – a department with a Director’s face and the bare minimum, instructing users to leave the intranet to call or email:

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Let’s be honest, these make for terrible user experiences and hamper the perception and efficiencies you are striving for as an Intranet Manager.

Whilst this risk can be reduced with a task driven information architecture (rather than departmental structure), it is always a risk to the success of your intranet. One option may be to push for a different Content Administrator for that area but experience suggests this rarely happens.

So how do you cure an apathetic Content Administrator?

As with most things, perception is everything and the benefits need to be startlingly obvious. The question I have used during years of Intranet Management and consultancy which is yet to fail me is:

“What are the five things your department / section gets asked for repeatedly?”

  • What is the information they forward multiple times a day?
  • What are the questions they have to copy and paste the same answer to multiple times a week?
  • What forms do they consistently get asked for?

The likelihood is there are at least five which jump straight to mind, if not far more, they are typically things which can be created within minutes. In fact there’s often a deluge of things which could be done, the next challenge is planning which to do first, again planning is everything.

You instantly answer the ‘what’s in it for me?’ aspect for the Content Administrator as you are removing the time it takes to action these frequently asked questions or needs. You could also take this as the opportunity to say “if this saves your department x hours per week, can your department give me half an hour per week back when needed to ensure we can continue to make things easier for your department?”

The benefit for your intranet is capturing an audience who have come to achieve specific tasks, for example, to book a holiday, check the rota or look for colleague contact details. When the audience reaches their destination page you can highlight related information for example, linking through to related blogs or content via

  • Interact Recommends, as a dynamic feed on the page
  • Related links within the content
  • Suggested content on the reader’s timeline

This question is also a great one to use when catching up with Content Administrators generally, sometimes people miss the obvious and this helps focus what will have the greatest impact for the least amount of effort.

For simple solutions to your common problems, take advantage of the London Interaction Intranet Conference and share your ideas and challenges with likeminded practitioners and consultants. If you can’t make it you can still share questions or ideas via Twitter using the hashtag #IIC13.