Intranet design: Lessons from MythBusters and Batman

What can Adam Savage (cohost of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters) teach us about intranet design?  Plenty, it turns out.

Before MythBusters, Savage was a professional model-maker, working on everything from Star Wars to The Matrix Reloaded (highly underrated, IMO).  In this  article he discusses how critical the design of his toolbox was in his effectiveness and creativity.  The toolbox he created allowed him to pull any tool that was needed with one hand, without the need to first move anything else out of his way.  He calls this organizing metric first-order retrievability – likening it to Batman’s utility belt.

So, what does first-order retrievability have to do with intranet design? 

One of the most commonly heard intranet design rules is the Three Click Rule – dictating that nothing on the intranet should take more than 3-clicks to find.  Coincidentally, James Robertson busts this myth, stating that:

“While the three clicks rule may be a myth, the common sense principle of bringing more frequently used content towards the top of the site still holds.  While users may not dislike clicking, there is no reason to make them work harder than they need to. Effort should be applied to identify common or important content, and to make sure this can be easily and quickly found on the site.”

While the three click rule is a myth, designing an intranet so that the most important applications and content are easily and quickly within reach should be a top priority for intranet managers.  Designing solutions with first-order retrievability in mind should ultimately result in a more efficient and useful intranet.  After all, what user wouldn’t want their intranet to be as handy and cool as Batman’s utility belt?

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