Filed under: Intranets
A common enhancement to intranets is to add some sort of weather information to the homepage. This could be an icon showing the current temperature, through to a full 5-day forecast showing projected temperatures, rainfall and humidity.
What is surprising is how much passion this topic generates when it comes up at intranet gatherings. Invariably, some will strongly argue for this feature, while others will be staunchly opposed.
Personally, I’m not a fan.
Adding weather is a high priority for some organisations:
- Increased traffic to the intranet. Weather is often looked up by staff on the public web, so usage can be increased by bringing it onto the intranet.
- More engaging (‘sticky’) intranet. By providing a real-time or interactive feature such as the weather, staff will be encouraged to repeatedly return to the intranet.
- Flow-on benefits. Once staff visit the intranet to check the weather, they may read the latest news or browse the site.
- It’s fun. Staff want to know the weather, and it’s something more interesting to add to the site than policies and procedures.
- Quick win. Adding the weather to the homepage is a quick improvement that shows that the site is being improved, generating (or sustaining) staff interest.
In practice, however:
- Not interesting enough. By itself, the weather is unlikely to be important enough to convince staff to visit the intranet more frequently.
- Looking out the window. In most cases, staff can look out a window if they want to see what the weather is like.
- Few business benefits. What tangible benefits are being delivered by adding the weather onto the intranet homepage?
- ‘Sticky’ is so 90’s. The intranet will be used if it’s useful. The concept of making a website ‘sticky’ (encouraging repeat visits) was questionable a decade ago, and even less relevant for intranets.
- Increasing intranet usage is not important. There is no real benefit in increasing intranet use for the sake of it, and staff should be left to use the site when it’s useful for them.
- Tricking people into visiting the intranet. You can’t really ‘trick’ staff into visiting the intranet for some novelty (weather, news, sports scores) and then expect there to be real flow-on benefits for the rest of the site.
- Bigger issues to tackle. Most intranets have much more significant issues to address, such as search or navigation, making the weather a very low priority.
The weather may be useful in in a large, geographically dispersed organisation. For example:
- Providing an online tool to find out the weather in another office, in preparation for a business trip. Could potentially be linked in with a timezone display.
- Including the weather in an ‘office locator’ feature on the intranet (such as the Gold Award entry from Syngenta in this year’s Intranet Innovation Awards).
Note that both these options go beyond a simple weather box on the homepage.
There’s probably no real harm in including the weather on the homepage, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of more important features. Consider it a low priority, however, and focus on more important improvements to the usability or usefulness of the intranet homepage.
(PS. If general staff don’t have access to the public web at work, this is a bigger issue. Address this directly, rather than adding features such as the weather to the homepage.)
Where do you stand on this debate?