Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Health Advice Better With a Happy Face

tidbits that tantalize

"Doctor Maude"

Elkhorn, Nebraska...

Omaha, Nebraska

It makes no sense. You've been meticulous in all aspects of the project. You started with a dedicated team of highly skilled physicians and educators. You hired the top-notch Web design outfit available, brought in seasoned writers and field-tested your site to fine-tune both the content and presentation. It all went off without a hitch - rave reviews heralded the site as one of the "Top 5 Health Information Portals" of the year. Yet...

Every time you check your site's traffic statistics you find you're still stuck in second place. In your own market! Geez! You designed this site to match wits with the big boys. But, there it is. Week after week. Some outfit called Maude's Medical Miscellany - from somewhere out by Elkhorn - outpaces you by a 2-to-1 margin. How can it be? What does she have on her site, other than a bunch of patients yakking about trying this, that and the other? Hmm...

...A bunch of patients?

Researchers at Northumbria University in England report that patients may be the key to online dissemination of health related information. A recent study found the most important aspect of health related Websites is not their accuracy, nor their level of expertise - it's a "familiar face." People are most interested in reading personal accounts of what others have experienced in dealing with the difficulties they themselves now face.

The scientists were surprised to find how quickly consumers rejected high quality, reputable sites due to the sterile nature of the presentation. Advertising was also viewed as a negative, thus eliminating most drug company sites and other commercially oriented endeavors. Government Websites fared no better. These sites were often viewed as being too cumbersome and, unwilling to waste precious nano-seconds, the users quickly moved on.

The "friendly-face" search methodology does not appear to be particularly damaging. The researchers report that even though reliable resources are often quickly rejected, most consumers find information that is of reasonable quality.

...The stress is taking its toll - the pain running up the back of your neck is unbearable. You've tried everything to get some relief. Sure, you found some great ideas using your "Advanced Power Search" function. But, nothing's helped. Then, a brainstorm hits. Ah... there's a guy named Joey with your exact symptoms. You give his picture a click and - you're feeling better already. Thanks, Maude...

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily.


Blogger sylvia c. said...


This is all so true! I find myself clicking away from sites with ads, and am drawn towards more "friendly" sites.

We may be the "information age" but we still appreciate a friendly face!


Sylvia C.

9:40 PM  
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4:28 AM  

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