I recently completed a submission tendering for the provision of an Intranet to a well-known housing group last week. There were some interesting points they made in their requirements document, like complying with web standards, meeting accessibility guidelines and engaging the users. It got a bit scary when they mentioned the amount of things they wanted in there, how the clients (their 350+ staff) would be expected to tick off reading items, deal with “alerts” and write, blog, post pictures, review local services and businesses like restaurants, wiki, rate other articles and pieces, etc.
They were going to be asked to do quite a bit, for little apparent reward, using a system that sounded very complicated even to me, who lives in the web and creates complex things. But that was OK, as I am accustomed to potential clients who need a hand to understand what can be delivered in a browser, need to be shown how to accommodate user’s expectation, and need expert advice in getting the balances right.
The scary part was the blog.
Or as they called it, the blog-roll. For those of you outside the UK, I just want to remind you, bog-roll means toilet paper and this was the company’s serious attempt at being light-hearted.
The concept is that visitors would come to a page designed to look like a toilet roll on a toilet roll holder, and the sheets would each contain a teaser to the next entry; which people would “tear off to read”, and then place in the “archive” for future reference.
I guess they thought it was a cute idea, blog > bog, tee hee! In other circumstances this might be funny but there is a crucial point they missed. Staff in organisations like theirs are incredibly reluctant to change and any new thing introduced will naturally met with scepticism and derision. Equating something that would be required reading, that you want people to engage with and respect to some degree, or at least enjoy, well… I was speechless!
I had to reply, but I couldn’t tell them it was weird and if implemented would probably be ridiculed and disrespected. Who would want to write for something that was presented on a toilet roll other than novelty toilet roll makers?
How do you comment on ideas such as these and expect your hopefully better ideas to be considered?