After exploring public health websites this week, I found several different blogs with their own top 10 lists of nonprofit websites. These websites exemplified so-called “best practices,” such as giving easy to find opportunities for visitors to donate, sign-up for information, or engage with the site or organization. One thing that has popped up continuously is the use of visuals to catch attention and pull the reader in. Cue the full window picture, or what I now call the “in your face” webpage. I really like the picture above, and it fits the organization’s purpose, which is children, very well. But when first seeing this webpage, it’s difficult to figure out where to go to get to the content you went to the website for in the first place. “In your face” pictures aren’t a bad thing necessarily, but I think we as public health practitioners need to be cautious of inundating our viewers with picture after picture, no matter how moving or beautiful they are, while sacrificing easy access to content.The website pictured above actually has a pretty good site design once you get into the subpages, seen here:
It has easy to find topics and links, opportunities to take action or learn more are clearly labeled, and the layout is appealing. Sharing and engaging is relatively simple. Interesting about this website is that the pictures are all on the main header pages, while the subpages are all text.
This website from a different organization is BAM! “in your face” for an entirely different reason. But it does not overwhelm the viewer. It’s a bit shocking, but once I move away from the key image I can find what I’m looking for really easily.
So maybe I’m old-fashioned, but what I’ve found as I continue exploring these new media tools is that using these communication tools is an art form. It is a delicate balance of innovating with new techniques while maintaining some familiarity of traditional means of communication. Pictures, videos and tools are great, but only if the user feels comfortable and confident in his or her ability to access the information they are seeking (which apparently I wasn’t). As public health professionals, the information we are sharing is important and could have a great impact on the viewers who see it. Finding the right balance is critical for important messages to get through to the public.