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May 2015

Google’s Latest Update: Mobile-Friendly Pages, Now More Heavily Promoted

Google recently rolled out another algorithm update that is essential to recognize if mobile-users happen to represent a significant portion of your audience… And if you’re in the healthcare industry, that likely means you.

In the search engine results, Google’s algorithm is now favoring web pages that are more “mobile-friendly.” The guidelines for this particular initiative do not leave much room for interpretation as Google plainly states the criteria that needs to be met to be considered mobile-friendly.

The algorithm now more heavily promotes and boosts the rankings for pages that are either hosted on a separate mobile URL (m.example.com) or have responsive web design capability. The update also detects that tap targets are appropriately positioned, as page elements like these are believed to offer the most enjoyable search experience for users on mobile devices.

Furthermore, pages that require excessive horizontal scrolling, tapping and/or zooming in order to adequately read text run the risk of decreasing in the organic rankings. Additionally, pages with video and other media that doesn’t play because of mobile-compatibility issues will also be penalized.

Take note that this update:

  • Affects only search rankings on mobile devices
  • Affects search results in all languages globally
  • Applies to individual pages, not entire websites

Utilizing a platform that allows you to keep pace with the changes in technology is critical in protecting your SEO value on any device. For each of AVID‘s clients’ sites, we tested and made any adjustments needed; we then provided recommendations for clients with older sites that may not have met the criteria. For a good place to start, a member of AVID Design’s marketing team can walk you through the Mobile-Friendly Test.

Keep in mind, however, that Google still uses many factors to determine a page’s rank, and a page can rank well even though it’s not considered to be mobile-friendly. Above all, high-quality content is the underlying constant when it comes to increasing rank. Remember that these initiatives are a part of Google’s effort to promote high-quality and relevant results to provide a seamless and enjoyable user experience.

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including Content Management Systems, SharePointWeb DesignSEO and PPC, Content Development and AssessmentOnline VideoAnalytics and Measurementand more. 

Justin Small | Digital Marketing Specialist | AVID Design

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Nov 2014

Technology that Makes your Site more Personal

In the world of the web, content is king, but people are the purpose. For healthcare websites, this is especially true. As a technologist and programmer, it’s easy to think of the web in terms of code, features and widgets, but solutions that don’t web-demo-infographicmeet the needs of our users aren’t really solutions at all. As Meredith, our Director of Content Services, often reminds me, we need to put ourselves in the shoes of our users to make sure that the technologies, content and graphics we create are meeting the constantly evolving needs of our client partners and their audiences. It’s something our team keeps globally front and center in every project, but how do you know specifically who is actually wearing these shoes? Audience definition and the use of personas can help make sure your website is meeting the core needs of your various audiences, while catering to each different user types.

Hitting the mark with your website can be challenging and confusing. In addition to patients, potential patients and family members, information and functionality on your website must also support job seekers, referring physicians, researchers, caregivers, potential donors and many more.

The Multiple Personalities of the Web 

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” ~ John Lydgate

One of the most common mistakes made in web strategy and information architecture is to cast such a wide net that you encompass all your potential users. From the mother of three trying to research health information for her family to the potential employee looking for information on employment, the users coming to your site will be a diverse mix. Creating a web site that serves them all equally is a challenge that all healthcare web professionals face.

So, how do we make sure we are pleasing and serving our users in a way that makes sense to the individual and makes them feel that content has been created for their specific needs?  Personalization based on audience segmenting and personas creates a web user experience that is more engaging and encourages loyalty to your site.

Finding the “Person” in Personal

Audience segmentation creates focused content and navigation strategies based on defined audiences. These definitions can be broad and may not typically account for the demographics of your users. Potentials patients, referring physicians and job seekers are good examples of audience definitions that may share certain content needs, but have a unique perspective and purpose for what is needed from your site. Clearly defining these audiences and using them to guide your information architecture is a critical step in the planning and discovery phase of any project.

The creation and use of personas is a more personal approach that can be utilized within any audience segment. Creating a hypothetical person, can help clarify your mobile and desktop strategy. A key demographic in healthcare marketing, women between the ages of 30 and 60, represents a range of people in different stages of life and it is easy to start thinking of them in terms of their statistics and not their needs. Jenny, a 42 year old mother of three with a working husband and live-in retired father in-law, is a person we can serve and measure our potential strategies against. Likewise, Margaret, a 58 year old woman with a husband nearing retirement and a child about to graduate college, is a totally different person, but one with overlapping and unique needs.

So, after defining three to five personas…then what?

Personalization is a concept that has been around forever. From a monogramed cuff on a standard dress shirt to your custom smart phone settings, personalization is a way to make a common item feel special.

With Technology, We Can Personalize the Web

There are creative solutions that can provide your web users with personalization and the technologies that support them.

A little help from big brother. Predictive marketing is a common practice on the web that collects, anonymously, web usage information and presents custom content based on key strategic metrics. Anyone who has ever researched vacation destinations and suddenly notices Disney discounts within content, has been a part of predictive marketing. This method can be applied to your web site through the use of tracking cookies, which collect anonymous metrics and provide content specific to user behaviors. Did a user visit several maternity pages before searching for a Baby Boot Camp class? The next time they arrive on your site, the main rotation banner, graphic ads and related links can be set to target information for a potential mother-to-be.

The advantage of this method is that it is relatively cost effective to create, yet, flexible as the applications are driven by the data and not the site functionality. A disadvantage of this method is that it is specific to a particular computer and will not transfer if the user moves to a different device. Also, users who realize they are being targeted for marketing efforts may have negative feelings about the practice. This can be especially sensitive when health information is involved.

Empower the user. Identity management is another option for personalization that can be used in conjunction with predictive marketing or as a standalone strategy. Encouraging your users to create a profile and setting their interests gives you the same of information as cookie tracking, but allows your users to determine the types of information they receive. This is especially useful with direct marketing, such as eNewsletters.

The advantage of identity management includes a more proactive sense of user participation with a higher level of certainty that the user actually wants to receive information on specific topics or interests. The challenges of this method is that it also requires a higher level of commitment on the part of the user and it is less likely that the user will update his or her profile as interests shift. With the cookie tracking method, you can capture changes in behaviors as they occur.

Make it truly personal. A patient portal, custom homepage/my page and health trackers are great ways to offer your users a truly unique and personal experience. These features combine many of the positives of the two other methods and are not mutually exclusive to either.

Incorporating other technologies and content into these portals is another way to increase personalization. Connecting to a health tracker app, such as Duet Health’s Branded Health System app, or allowing your users to filter content from your licensed health library content can encourage users to return to the site on a regular basis and add to both the exposure and reputation of your hospital or health system.

The benefits and advantages of this method are numerous and range from increased loyalty and participation to a better ability to track the ROI metrics of you site. The only real challenge of this method is that it requires the highest investment of time and resources to initiate and maintain. With the added value of incorporating your custom blog and health content, the upside of full personalization is worth the investment.

Custom User Experiences

Finding the right solution that fits your organization or department budget, strategy and culture can be the most difficult and important step. Regardless of which method or methods you decide to employ, with personalization we may not be able to please all of the people, all of the time, but we create a website that provides our visitors with a user experience that feels like it was custom tailored for them.

AVID Design offers full-scale written and visual communication services for hospitals and healthcare systems, including Content Management Systems, SharePointWeb DesignSEO and PPC, Content Development and AssessmentOnline VideoAnalytics and Measurementand more.

Keir Bradshaw | Director of Web Development | AVID Design


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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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Feb 2014

Web Optimization: A Valentine’s Tale from Your Friends at AVID

My boyfriend and I, like the rest of Atlanta, enjoyed a few work-from-home days this week through the snow storm (It turns out “Icelanta 2” wasn’t nearly as “biblical” as the weather predicted, but did keep us inside for a few days). Our kitchen table looked like a war-zone…my side of the table was filled with first drafts and client notes, his side with case files & notebooks. There were pens everywhere.

About halfway through the second day in our new “home office” he suddenly looked over his laptop at me, almost panicked.

“I…I don’t have anything planned for Thanksgiving.”

“Well,” I replied, “You’ve got a few months to think about it.”

Of course, he meant Valentine’s Day but the word switcheroo struck with me. Valentine’s Day really is very similar to Thanksgiving. We think about love in all its forms, and are thankful for those people and things around us who make life a little more pleasurable…or a little easier.

Today, one of those things was my nice office at AVID headquarters where I can stretch my legs under the entirety of my desk without hitting someone else’s feet. The other was the fresh list of new web pages on my desk, just waiting to be written.

What things do you love that make your life easier? Do you need help to make your online tasks more manageable? Whether you are stuck with writing, can’t get a handle on programming, or would just like a little facelift to refresh your website’s look, we can set you up with the perfect solution. We can even take your site mobile. Our team is full of people who love to do all the things that make your online life easier. 

Binary Valentine's Day Card

we love programming so much that even our valentine’s cards are in binary

 If you aren’t sure where to start, ask us for a free consultation or SEO assessment. It’s like giving you the answers to the test; or like someone letting my boyfriend know that I like peach colored roses and there are some on sale at the flower shop just down the street (ahem). 

We promise, no matter if you call today on Valentine’s Day or wait until Thanksgiving, you’ll fall in love with AVID. 

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.

Whitney Stuart | Web Content Manager | AVID Design

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Dec 2013

Behind the Scenes of the 2013 AVID Christmas Card

It’s difficult to wrangle my family together for a Christmas photo, and last week I found out my new work family is no different. Tom did a great job creating our Christmas card backdrop, and we wanted to do a good job posing in front of it…but grouping 20 creative people in a room together is harder (and louder) than it looks!

Office Christmas cards are so much more fun when you have a creative boss

Office Christmas cards are so much more fun when you have a creative boss

Look out for our official AVID Christmas 2013 card in the mail, and don’t forget to send us your family Christmas Card outtakes…we know better than anyone that sometimes the reject poses are more fun than the actual card!

behind the scenes shots of the AVID Design Christmas Card

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.

Whitney Stuart | Web Content Manager | AVID Design

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