How to make your health care website work harder

It’s easy. Make it simple.

Health care system and hospital websites can be difficult to navigate, with all the information that different internal teams believe needs to be conveyed. The result can be content overload and lack of engagement and conversion. This is in spite of the fact that patients and families rely on your website more than ever to make decisions about where they’ll go for their care.

With more and more tools available for web design, it might surprise some that the biggest emerging trend is one of simplicity. Bells and whistles are being used in more tasteful and subtle ways, so that technology doesn’t overshadow story telling or take the focus off of valuable content.

Here are four trends to help you create a cleaner, more focused and more satisfying healthcare website experience.

Flat design: Simple for strategy’s sake

While flat design might seem like a purely aesthetic decision, it is actually a strategic choice as well. Stripping designs down to their simplest form allows you to focus user attention on what matters most, the most important content on your site and the actions you want users to take. Overuse of textures, heavy gradients and irrelevant imagery are distracting and can pull one’s eyes in every direction. This trend can now be seen everywhere, from websites to applications that we use everyday like the operating systems on our phones.

Mediatemple has recently redesigned their site to embrace this trend and the result is a well-organized site with a clear hierarchy and focus.

Fewer navigation items: Less options, more conversations

A recent trend that has emerged has been to remove most of the main navigation items from immediate view on our sites. Many websites are hiding their main navigation bars all together to even further focus the users attention on the main action they would like them to take. While it might still be important to read “our story” or peruse “FAQ’s,” the fact is, these items are secondary to your main call to action and their constant presence on the screen is a distraction from your primary message.

Squarespace does a good job of this. They want to get users directly into experiencing their product. They have just a few core options listed and then a menu button to access the full range of pages on the site.

While we have not seen the last of navigation bars and won’t for some time, it is an interesting trend that should be considered as a viable option to help further focus user attention.

Whitespace: Usability’s best friend

Whitespace is an extremely important tool for designers. It allows us to keep your user’s focus where you want it on the page. It also makes content much easier to read and makes UI elements much easier to find.

Dropbox does a great job of using whitespace in its website as well as the application itself. As a result, everything has plenty of breathing room and is easy to find.

Above the fold: Focused, clean and highly targeted

Above the fold content is still invaluable to a website’s ability to communicate and inspire action. Users are however more comfortable scrolling through content on the web than they once were. So, what has really changed is our need to make sure that a visitor sees all that your site has to offer in those top pixels. This area should be reserved for your most important action or message ensuring the user absorbs it before moving on through your site. Below the fold you can start to tell more of your story and provide more paths for users to take.

Square’s homepage is an extremely effective landing page for the site. It is focused on a single message and action, allowing the user to take in more if they choose to, but not until after they have absorbed the main message.