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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Information deficit?

We do try very hard at Connaught Hall to keep everyone informed of what's going on, and to provide high quality, accessible information about our facilities and services. Some of the responses to this year's survey, however, demonstrate that we are still not quite reaching everyone with the information they need.

When I first arrived at the hall, nobody told me that there was a good lift which I could use. So I lifted my own luggage to my floor (The lift only goes to the second top floor, but I live on the top floor). No guidance of facilities or introduction to the hall was provided, maybe because I moved in the second term. Still, I think every resident would like to receive helpful guidance and information upon their arrival. Besides, there were not many welcome arrangements.

More explanation about the hall, especially for overseas students.
The events have been thoroughly organised, although I think promotion could have been done further in advance (and not just on Facebook). 

Our Residents' Handbook is the official source of information about the Hall: I wrote and designed the Handbook myself and update it every year. It does contain a large section aimed at international students. But it does not mention the goods lift: I will correct this for the start of the next academic year. We shall also put up directions to the goods lift in reception on the main arrival days next year, and provide instructions on how to use it.

There is alsway more information being published here on my blog (, on our Facebook page (, Twitter ( and more recently, Instagram, Google+, and our YouTube channel, ConnaughtTV.

It's clear, however, that information in the Handbook is often simply not read. Most of my blog posts only ever reach around 100 views, so are obviously not reaching most residents; not everyone is on Facebook (especially students from China, where Facebook is banned); and only a minority of residents follow our Twitter profile. Instagram and Google+ even more obscure. So how do we get information out? More emails are not the answer: most of us receive too many emails already.

So  today I have designed new "tweetboard" and "tweet-tips" posters:

These laminated signs will be prominently displayed in reception and frequently updated with very short updates, answers, tips, advice, and guides to our facilities. It's Twitter for people who aren't on Twitter.

During the first few weeks of term 1, the tweet-tips board will cover all the important rules and facilities in Hall - so if you see that board every day, you will barely even need to read the Handbook!

The advantages of tweet-sized bits of information are:

  • more memorable and digestible than long passages of text;
  • large text will be clearly visible so it's difficult to miss announcements;
  • easier for us to update very frequently without designing a whole new poster each time;
  • every "tweet" will be dated;
  • once the initial outlay for the full-colour, laminated templates is made, the plain text signs will be very cheap to print.
I hope these new posters will help get information to those people who are currently missing out.

This is one of a series of posts responding to the results of the residents' survey. You can see all the posts here: