Ask Dr. Google. Open 24/7.
It’s 2 a.m. You wake up feeling sick. The doctor’s office is closed. What do you do? Ask Dr. Google. You take out your phone, or go to your desktop, and enter your symptoms. If you’re lucky, you may find what you need to help you feel better. Or, imagine that after seeing your family doctor, you discover your lab work is off balance and you need additional tests. Scared and confused, you decide to embark on your own search for answers. Dr. Google is available and always ready with answers.
As technology evolves, so does managing your own health, or the health of a loved one. Seventy two percent of Internet users say they looked online for health information of one kind or another within the past year. This includes searches related to serious conditions, general information, and minor health problems, according to results from a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey.
How does this affect the HSC?
In mid-September, a team of UT Health Science Center professional Web designers and stakeholders met with NewCity to plan the redesign for a new Health Science Center website. The figurative phrase I kept hearing was, “Teaching us to Fish.” What are people looking for when they go online? How can we help people find the information they seek while keeping them engaged and returning to our website? Will Dr. Google point online health seekers in our direction? NewCity presented us with several sessions to help us think outside the box.
Teaching us to fish
The first session we had was a K-J session. Everyone wrote one task on a Post-It note to learn what our online visitors might be looking for when they visit our site. After everyone finished, we combined similar tasks to get a better understanding of task-based services needed on the website. For example, one task a student might consider is looking for professional development services.
Another session revealed research findings with patient perspectives. NewCity used various online tools to learn what people were seeking through specific keyword searches. How to find a doctor, clinical studies or weight loss tips for healthy living, or how to understand specific medical conditions.
During my favorite session, NewCity asked us to create customer experience maps to think about how our audience finds information. This map helped us recognize areas to evaluate when thinking of our online visitors who have health related questions.
At the end of the week, we talked about branding principles, and how stories connect our audience to our brand. Everyone was asked to choose a visual image from the table and tell a story about the UT Health Science Center. With our green hats on, we were led to consider audience perception when developing content creation strategies. This is the area in which I will play a major role on our team.
Why is content creation important?
Before we start creating content for our new website, we need to think about content strategy. What is the perception that we would like our audience to have when visiting our website? Why is this important? We need to start thinking about how we deliver this message with stories and images on our website, and through social media. The consistency and tone of our voice will be responsible for attracting visitors to our website, increasing search traffic, and encouraging and helping our audience to share information with friends and family.
I hope that this project will quickly begin to allow our online visitors to find exactly what they are looking for when they ask Dr. Google – “What is the UT Health Science Center?”
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