More and more people are turning to the Internet for medical and health related information, whether it be information about general health, medical conditions, health products, or plastic surgery procedures. Further, many people seek out health professionals on the web, particularly when it comes to plastic surgery. Designing a medical or health related website is different than designing other sites. There are certain considerations that must be taken into account, including issues of quality, ethics, appeal, ease of use and more.
One of the most important issues with health and medical sites is that of ethics. This relates to both content and privacy. People visit medical sites expecting to find useful, valid and reliable information. Because of that, particular care must be taken to ensure that all content is reliable and completely accurate. This often requires more careful and specific planning and execution of content than with other types of websites. Further, informational content on the site may require continual updates, which will require that additional efforts be made in the original construction of the site.
Ethics are another main concern when it comes to user confidentiality and respect for privacy. The use and gathering of personal data must be considered when designing forms, patient information components, and so on. Personal data identifying a living person must be securely managed and stored and safeguarded against pirating of information. Further, there are other issues regarding the collection of any sensitive personal data over the Internet, informed consent approvals and the storing of data.
There are other considerations which relate to the design of any site, be it a medical one or not. Creating a user friendly site is very important. Sites must be easy to access regardless of the computer or browser used, and pages should be quick to download. Users should be able to intuitively learn how to navigate a site with little effort, and they should also be able to remember how to navigate that site on a subsequent visit. They should be able to quickly and easily accomplish tasks on the site, particularly getting in contact with you. In addition, colors and text should be agreeable and easy to read.
When it comes to appearance, it’s obvious that a site should be attractive. With medical sites, though, it’s often recommended that they go easy on the aesthetics in order to lend a more authoritative air. For instance, many will say that graphics should be used only when necessary and that moving images should be avoided. However, this may not necessarily be the best approach. Though experts will argue that reliable content and adherence to privacy issues is the foremost criteria that the general public uses to determine a medical site’s credibility, there is some evidence to the contrary. In a study by Stanford University , it was found that 46.1% of study participants based their judgment of a website’s credibility on “the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes,” not on the site’s standards. Further, an argument could certainly be made that the appearance of a site may be of particular importance when it comes to plastic surgery. After all, the user is interested in and seeking out some concept of beauty. Of course, this is not to suggest that ethics and user friendliness should fall to the wayside in favor of appearance, but rather that all must be taken into account.