This week I presented updated thinking about visual design in digital health communications to Emerson and Tufts health communications students in Lisa Gualtieri's Online Consumer Health course. It was a chance for me to test three frameworks for discussing what design can do for digital heath communications, and hear if they were helpful for students. We evaluated parts of these sites:
- Federal Health Insurance Marketplace
- American Cancer Society
- American Lung Association
Our evaluation included discussing the meta-principles consistency, hierarchy, and personality – how and if they were evident on the pages we reviewed and to what effect. We used the terms expressive and classical to evaluate each site's general visual approach, as well as individual details such as logos. We also looked for evidence of desirable qualities for healthcare communications by asking the following questions:
CredibleIs it professional?
- Is it organized? Are there visible systems for use, styling, and behavior of navigation, type, color, and controls?
- Is the up-front value proposition clear? Can I quickly see what the site or app is about and what can I do?
- Are the visual characteristics appropriate? Do stylistic decisions fit the topic? Do they fit the organization of origin?
Do I trust it?
- Who is this organization? Are the professional identity and any credentials presented appropriately?
- What is the organization's goal? Is the emphasis on information or advertising?
- Does it feel specific or generic? Do the photos feel real or generic? Are colors and styles appropriate for the content and organization of origin?
HelpfulDoes it help me understand the site or application purpose?
- Can I read/use it? Is the type appropriate? Do colors contrast sufficiently with the background?
- Can I skim and get the gist to help me decide if I want to read?
- Does it show and tell? Are there images or video that help explain the content?
Does it make sense?
- Can I see where I am?
- Can I see where to click? Are the actions and links clear?
- Can I tell what will happen if I click? Do control designs indicate what will happen? Can I see feedback from what I did?