Ages ago I remember hearing someone from the BBC say that even the best read articles on their news pages are viewed for an average of seven seconds. I have assumed that similar laws of attention span apply to web and to intranet viewing.
It always seemed intuitively correct to me to people don't spend ages pouring over the wisdom of the CEO on the front page of the intranet. Whenever I look at survey results asking employees where they hear about complex things like the business strategy, electronic channels don't tend to rate that highly. And everyone I've ever mentioned it to seemed to think it made sense as well. After all, just think about your own browsing habits....
Then, a few weeks back Sue Matzen at Novo Nordisk challenged me about it. She wasn't doubting the truth of it- she wanted hard evidence.
So my trusted colleague Susie Hunt set to work tracking down the facts behind my waffle.
She's had an interesting few days as it's one of those 'facts' that seems so plausible that no one bothers to ask where it came from.
The good news is that Susie dug up a wealth of stuff.
In particular, she looked at the work of usability guru Jakob Nielsen. The hard message is that if you're posting articles of over 100 words you'd better have a pretty exciting reason for people to read it. On average users read about 20% of the text on a page.
Which is a difficult message to get over to internal colleagues sometimes - showing them Jakob's work might help.