Online Press Rooms: “How Not To Do It”

Online press rooms come under fire over at Contentious. According to Amy Gahran:

Journalists increasingly turn to online press rooms because a well-done online press room can save a lot of time. Time is critical to journalists, because of deadline pressures. If they can’t find exactly what they seek, immediately, they’ll turn elsewhere.

Among the errors Amy notes are making the press room hard to find, not listing press contacts, and not listing press releases in date order, latest first.
I think that the media room we have on our hospital site doesn’t fall into those traps, thank goodness, although not knowing this audience particularly well, there may well be others.

Avoiding Over-Engineering the US Navy Way

At the hospital, we (the web team) are often asked to create a web-based this or that, such as a form or some kind of app. In the majority of cases such requests represent a huge amount of over-engineering based on the user requirements of the form or tool and the amount of use it is likely to get.
For example, creating a web-based form involves a fair amount of work for the developer and a not inconsiderable development time as there things to include like emailing a copy to the person completing the form and making sure it prints properly. It usually takes several iterations to get right.

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“Help” Is a Waste of Time

My wife recently took back a cordless phone because it didn’t work. She had left it in its charger over night like she was supposed to but the thing just wouldn’t produce a dial tone. I looked at it briefly, pushed a few of the buttons and agreed that the thing was dead out of the box.
Back she comes with a new phone, and as I’m opening it, what do I see on the back of the phone but a large sticker with large words to the effect “Before doing anything plug in the battery!” Oops. Somehow, my wife had managed to remove the sticker on the previous phone without reading it and thus realising that this simple but essential first step was required to make the thing work.
Which just goes to show that people don’t read instructions. Actually, I do, but only as a result of painful experience. By the way, I don’t know what the manufacturer could have done to make their instructions any more obvious–I guess they’re just screwed.

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