Repeat after me: no-one cares about our policies

Ah, policies.  The lifeblood of any bureaucratic organisation.  One of the most important parts of the internal machine and something you’re encouraged to memorise as a loyal corporate or Government worker.

But when it comes to your web site, repeat after me: no-one care about our policies.

I’m working on a site at the moment.  It’s a massive site – about 120 pages of information so it’s fairly information-rich.  I’ve worked with the organisation on their site map and reorganising their information to be more about their customers and not themselves.

They nodded a lot in that discussion and asked a total of five questions as we went through the site map.  Every one of those questions related to their policies – where would they be, could they be easily accessed by users, their preference for HTML over PDF policies and (my personal favourite) could we do a button on the home page so people could go straight to the policies? Team… it’s a mobile world.

In an hour’s discussion over 120 pages and how they fit together, the client was only interested in the policies.

Newsflash to everyone writing a web site: no-one cares about your policies.  What they care about is how those policies impact on their life through your improved service or focus on their needs.

For example, on a school web site, prospective parents don’t want to read your anti-harrassment policy – they want to know that you’re focussed on preventing bullying and have taken steps to protect their child.  On a government web site, customers don’t want to know you have a customer complaint policy, they want the phone number to call and an assurance they’ll speak to a real person who will fix their problem or answer their question.

So, when writing, remember that.  Policies are internal documents that drive a business and its behaviour.  They aren’t public documents – in fact, they often get in the way of the information that the person really wants.

And, if you’re having trouble remembering, repeat after me: no-one cares about our policies.

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