I subscribe to various homeopathic websites and mailing lists so I can be conveniently outraged from the comfort of my own inbox.
When one such site sent out an email recently asking for feedback as part of the site redevelopment, I opened my reply up to ideas from twitter, with a promise that I would include every single suggestion made in my response.
Here is that response…
Your favorite homeopathy portal, is going through a redesign and development cycle. The basic aim of this development cycle is to make the site technically more sound, more professionally designed, easy to navigate and find information, and addition of more useful services. But what exactly will happen will depend upon your feedback.
If you can spare some minutes, please answer the following questions and help us make a better site!
1. Do you like the current design and colours?
I find the current design a bit sterile. The minimal blue design feels too much like a hospital waiting room; homeopathy is a fun alternative to conventional medicine so I think the website should reflect that with multiple bright colours.
You also need some music that starts playing when the page loads (but don’t clutter the design with buttons to stop the music, people can turn off their speakers if they want).
2. Which design and colour elements do you like and which do you not?
I like the moving images in the top banner; they really catch the eye. But that’s only movement on the site: I’m sure it’s possible to use BLINK and MARQUE HTML tags to help draw attention to other important parts of the front page.
It’s also possible to use animated gifs to provide a bit of movement to the site. It’s great that there’s a children’s section featuring Dana Ullman’s advice about using homeopathy instead of conventional medicine for childhood illnesses; but this would be a lot more fun with an animated boarder of dancing clowns. Possibly popping pills.
3. What changes/improvements you would recommend in the design/colour scheme?
The site currently doesn’t make any use of all the features that flash offers. If you don’t want to alter the main site, an initial ‘splash page’ made using flash animations would make people feel more welcome each time they visit the site.
Design can also be functional: why not embed some basic principles of homeopathy into the design itself?
There could be a page with just one letter and no other text to represent a dilution. This would also make the page more powerful as a bizarre one-letter page would really make people think.
Or some pages could use white text on a white background to show that even if you cannot see something, it can still be there.
4. How would you rate the usability – navigation, categorization of content, ease of finding relevant information etc? Not Happy/Happy?
I’m currently mildly-melancholy with the usability.
I can find pages if I look for them, but there’s no guide to pages I wouldn’t normally find. I would like something similar to the pop-up paperclip in Microsoft Word that volunteers hand-hints automatically. Maybe an animated unicorn could occasionally appear and give suggestions?
I’ve attached a mock-up of how this might look.
I also have difficulty finding the email links. Could you make use of spinning email logos? Or even those animated gifs where a letter flies into a letterbox? They’re such a perfect analogy for how email works.
In fact, you should have some animated gifs to show when the page is under-construction. There are great animated gifs of construction workers ‘working’ on building a new site. Makes me laugh every time.
And in case something does go wrong during the re-design, have a themed 404 page. Something like: “Oh dear, we’ve diluted that URL too much! But don’t bang your head against a leather saddle, we’ll have it fixed soon!”
5. What changes or improvements you would suggest in the usability aspects?
You use a lot of long sciencey-sounding words, in what I can only assume is the same way that conventional medical research does. But people looking for homeopathy don’t want lots of long words, they want nice easy-to-understand simple answers. Please try and use shorter words to make your site more accessible.
And set the typeface to comic sans. So if people do have to read some science, it will at least be more fun.
6. What additional content would you like to see?
There is more and more homeopathy in popular culture. Maybe you could have a section on that?
And for the people who do insist on reading some science, have a section with links to all the peer-reviewed studies in mainstream journals that support homeopathy (this should not be the same page as the one with only one letter).
7. Which new services would you like to see? Give us your wish list!
It is hard to explain how homeopathy works to other people without them sniggering a lot. Could you provide some resources to help with this? Maybe some animations that show the dilutions to scale so people know there’s no risk of imbibing any of the original substance?
Sometimes I accidentally leave the site too early and there are no pop-up windows to stop me from doing this. Could you add some pop-up reminders about homeopathic products when people close the site?
8. Would you like to have a single log-in that gives you the benefit of many homeopathic services as well as the ability to network with other homeopaths?
That would be great. In fact, could you organise some meet-ups for homeopaths so we can all network in person?
I would very much love to meet my fellow users of the site face to face.
The above is the amalgamation of suggestions by: @adebradley @jamescummings @queerpup @BinaryJam @GiantBassstacks @odolphie @SamStreetr @Ju_Cooper @icecolbeveridge @paul_asjes @ely_peddler @epidemiologista @pigworker @teachingofsci @mrNeilButler @bewilderedboy @MitchKeller @dcasey007 @Cyzaki @simon_peel @TrunkmanUK @parsingphase @sinewave @stevebrownett @louisdstrong @Our_Frank @WooTube @lee_mcintosh @neiljackson111 @andyWebberEsq and @Youmademe_Miss