Vanity Pages: It’s not presentation – It’s marketing!

A comment on the blog post “Vanity pages: how to transform them” by Jane McConnell

You can’t – and shouldn’t – stop people from creating “vanity pages”. Telling people that they can’t have one can easily be perceived as ”Sorry, your department is not important enough for the intranet”.

Since the ”type 3” page is often the first page that is created by a given entity, it requires active participation/coaching from the intranet/content manager to avoid that the editor falls into one of these traps:

1) Lack of clarity
Presentation of the department/function by using lots of internal jargon, acronyms, and fluffy buzzwords that doesn’t make sense unless you are working with eg. Finance.

2) Boooooring…
Explain in great, lengthy detail creating a wall of text that nobody reads – possibly ganished with a mission statement from Senior VP XYZ

3) The too simple approach
”Welcome to the website for department ABC – click the powerpoint link below to read more about what we do” – Say no more…

Users don’t know your acronyms, they don’t care what your Senior VP thinks, and they certainly don’t want to go through your 34-page department presentation!

In stead you should treat your readers as customers: Find out what you have to offer that could be useful for the reader and combine this with a short and down-to-earth presentation, what you do, and who to contact.

In my experience this approach can be a little controversial since you often find yourself telling people that they need to focus on something different than what they perceive as important. That said, it is also fairly easy to get them to understand that this is not a presentation – this is marketing!

Don’t focus on what you do – Focus on when and why users should contact you!


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