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Oct 2014

Oh, the Horror! Bad Usability can be Spine Chilling.

It’s that time of year, when ghoulish ghosties are all around, when vampires and bats and things that go BOO! in the darkest of night come out to haunt. When creatures and ghosts and Frankenstein’s monster rise to terrorize.

But none of these things scare me. They only come out once a year, and besides, I have plenty of wooden stakes and garlic to scare off the most horrifying of creatures.

No, these things aren’t scary at all. But you know what gives me goosebumps? What sends shivers down my spine, each and every time? What makes me moan and groan and rattles my bones? 

Bad web usability. BOOOOOOOOOOO!

But like a wooden stake or a silver bullet, there are secret weapons you can use to slay these dangerous demons of design before they turn your website into a waking nightmare for your users. 

Know what works

Knowing that garlic won’t help you fend off a werewolf can come in handy if you find yourself face to face with one. Knowing these fundamentals of good usability will help you design sites that are a treat for your users: 

  • Clear, self-explanatory navigation
  • Logically-organized copy presentation
  • Obvious search functionality
  • Visible and well-thought-out site structure

Don’t go there!

When you’re lost in a dark forest, you don’t want to mistake the haunted coal mine for the way out. Think of these good usability principles from Jakob Nielsen’s Usability 101 as the beam of your trusty flashlight, keeping you on right path:

  • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  • Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  • Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

NOTE: These usability principles can apply to any product, not just a web site. The next time you’re programming that new television remote control, test it against these principles and see if it sends you shrieking.

Finally, face your fears

Here’s a super quick usability test you can perform on your own home page. How fast can a user answer these questions when users first arrive at your site:

  • What is this?
  • What can I do here?
  • What do they have here?
  • Why should I be here (and not somewhere else)?
  • AND where do I start?

How long did it take you to answer those questions? Your web site might be a maze of terror if you aren’t able to answer all of these questions clearly in 5–10 seconds…or less. If your time came within those parameters, congratulations – that is a superior home page usability win!

So, remember: know what works, stick to the path and face your fears. You’ll be able to give your users treats, not tricks, by improving the usability of your web site.

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including SharePointWeb designSEO and PPC content development and assessmentonline video and rich mediaanalytics and measurementcontent management systems and more.

Brett Boatright | Director, Digital Creative UI/UX | AVID Design

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May 2013

The Banner Challenge

There’s a phenomenon called banner blindness, where users tend to overlook big colorful banners in an attempt to find more relevant content, thinking that the banner is really just an ad. While this is sometimes an issue for sites that sell products, banners are very useful for helping healthcare website users find what they need.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities have a unique set of needs when it comes to web marketing strategy, and the effective use of banners to showcase key services can actually be a more compelling strategy not just for marketing but also for improving the user experience.

At AVID Design, we try to use banners as effectively as possible to improve the user experience and create more striking visual navigation. Here are some of our ideas for strategic banner use:

  1. Service page banners are navigational cues – Because hospital websites tend to cover a large number of topics, e.g. services offered, physicians, locations, health information, etc., it can get confusing. Use banners as a guide to indicate users have found the correct information.
  2. Use that real estate to reinforce your message and create familiarity – If you’re going to put a banner the top of your content page; don’t simply repeat the same verbiage that’s in your header. You have the space, so use the opportunity to reinforce what your organization can offer to the user, and what factors make your services different from everyone else.
  3. Use branding – We’ve talked in the past about the importance of branding, but it’s worth repeating. Your website should represent your organization and create a recognizable brand, so when it’s appropriate, use your hospital or system branding to reinforce your presence.
  4. Be consistent – When you create your banners, they should be unique and relevant to each specialty service or area of differentiation without being completely discordant. If you have one wide banner that has a full sentence about your services on one page and another that’s more narrow and has a quote on it, your site begins to be seen as too busy and confusing.
  5. Homepage banners show users the advantages of your organization – This is really a category on its own, because homepage banners are so different from your content page banners. Home page banners should be reserved for those differentiating factors your hospital offers: new minimally invasive technology, specialty services, new departments, upcoming events, and other content that makes your organization stand out. By regularly updating these, you can always ensure that your homepage has the most up-to-date information about your organization and services.

How does your organization use banners to your advantage?

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including Web designSEO and PPC content development and assessmentonline video and rich mediaanalytics and measurementcontent management systems and more.

Evan Daeschler | Creative Director | AVID Design

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Apr 2011

Logo Design Characteristics: What Does Your Logo Say About Your Hospital?

Having a strong brand, or identity, for your hospital (or any business for that matter) is extremely important. One of the most valuable facets of a strong brand is your logo.

AVID Design, Inc. is a healthcare Website consulting group in Atlanta that provides strategic, creative and interactive solutions for print and online, including Web design, SEO and PPC content development and assessment, online video and rich media, analytics and measurement, content management systems and more.

Many times people recall visual images and associate a brand with an image (e.g. Nike’s swoosh or the Apple logo), so having a recognizable logo that communicates who your hospital is and impacts your audience, will allow you to stand out amongst your competitors—which is a pretty crucial factor in today’s economy.

Just like your hospital Web site is a marketing tool, your logo is a business tool, and if created with the right elements, your hospital’s visibility and creditability may all improve.

Here are some characteristics to keep in mind when designing an effective logo for your hospital:

Black and White: Logos should translate well in both black and white because of how it will be displayed in all mediums (Web, print, fax, photocopies), as well as allow for those color blind to view it.

Clean and Clear: Fit all elements of the logo together to form one, clean and concise unit, rather than have an overload of elements jumbling up the design.

Memorable: Make your hospital’s logo stick out so once your audience sees it they remember it, for when they need your services.

Meaningful: Represent and incorporate what your mission is while spreading the word of what your hospital stands for.

Scalability: Logos must look good and be easily read at every size, from business cards to commercial spots to billboards. Your hospital’s logo must be easily resizable if need be.

Timelessness: Have a fresh, relevant design that won’t go out of style.

Unique and Original: Distinguish yourself from other hospitals in the community with a design and color choices that reflect your hospital’s individually, so it’s best to stray away from clip art or stock images.

What does your logo say about your hospital’s brand? Do you have any design tips for creating an effective hospital logo?

Did you know that in addition to being a leader in hospital Web site design and development, AVID Design also creates logos for hospitals or healthcare systems that demand attention, identify with your brand and stick out amongst the crowd? Contact us to learn more about our award-winning design services.

Lisa M. Rickard | Web Content Specialist | AVID Design

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