Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jakob Nielsen Takes Potshots at Web 2.0 in Best Intranets of 2007

Objection to Nielsen's take on the best intranets ...

"I've been following usability guru Jakob Nielsen's annual Best Intranets column for as long as I can remember. This year Nielsen specifically mentions web 2.0, albeit in a very condescending way. The summary is just the start:

"This year's winners emphasized an editorial approach to news on the homepage. They also took a pragmatic approach to many hyped "Web 2.0" techniques. While page design is getting more standardized, there's no agreement on CMS or technology platforms for good intranet design."

Enterprises are always "pragmatic" (a.k.a. conservative) about new technologies, so it comes as no surprise they're cautious with web 2.0. But later in the article, Nielsen gets feisty about the hype...

Intranets and News Feeds
I was intrigued by what Nielsen meant, in his summary, by "an editorial approach to news on the homepage". Here's what he said about news feeds:

"Many intranets have long offered news feeds, but this year's winners have taken extra steps to make their news offerings more relevant to employees, both for internal news and for industry-related external news. Labeling and categorization are more extensive than before, and several intranets let users rate and comment on stories."

He then compares the user ratings to Amazon and weblogs, but takes an unnecessary potshot at the latter by saying that intranet user ratings won't be "degraded by the Bozo effect". Not content with that, he concludes: "ratings and comments from colleagues are likely to be much more useful than those of random blog readers". Charming.

One way around information overload issues is editors filtering the news - and that is what Nielsen meant by an editorial approach to homepage news. He references an intranet by AEP, on which an editor reviews news feeds and "posts only those that will be of most use to the company's employees." Nielsen says this increases employee productivity. He even comes up with a new metric system to test this... employees:

"For example, at JPMorgan Chase, the intranet homepage is viewed 620,000 times per day, so even one superfluous headline that required one second to scan would cost the company the equivalent of 22 full-time employees in lost productivity."    (Continued via Read/Write Web)    [Usability Resources]

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