Confab | Johns Hopkins Testing Content

Hearing Ahava Leibtag and Aaron Watkins talk about Johns Hopkins and how they test content.

Challenge of working on a major academic medical center’s website: Lots and lots of cooks in the kitchen. Branding is difficult to maintain because content creation is widely distributed. Have to balance the interests of users [patients], doctors and executives.

Wow, here’s the first challenge: Had a 6-page website promoting a weight loss program that offered medical support for people who wanted to lose 20-30 pounds, and also a $4000 procedure that insurance wouldn’t cover.

Competing visions of the site:

  • One person wanted 60-page, research-heavy site.
  • One person wanted to answer patient questions.
  • One person wanted to promote services and show ROI.

How do you meet all these needs?

Created a competitive landscape analysis: Discovered no competitors had research-heavy sites, but instead were all consumer-friendly. So they answered that challenge.

Defined the audience: Obese people with complicating disease, obese people with disease influencing obesity, potential patients for weight-loss program.

Can users find, read, understand, act and share your content? [See the link for an expanded discussion on this metric at CMI.]

How do you know the content is effective? How do you know it meets your users’ needs? Do not assume you know the answer. You must test your content.

User Testing
They showed a bunch of user testing videos. If you don’t do user testing, man, you are missing out. People will tell you, they don’t read. They want to come to your website and magically get the answers. And the best part: They did unmoderated user testing about got great results, but realized the people were reviewing the site once they saw the questions.

In their tests, video decreased comprehension of the message. In the health care realm, they think that video is a poor way to transmit facts. Instead, they recommend using video to make an emotional connection, explain visually how a procedure works, or reinforce the brand. Use video for 1 message at a time. Make it simple. Complex topics need written content so people can review it later.

Really wish every visual designer I know could see the real users in these Johns Hopkins usability tests, one after another, saying, the text is too small.

Here’s a great point: People who spent more time on the site did not increase their comprehension of the message.