Improving the Design of Health Information Websites: A Study of Users’ Expectations

By Rupananda Misra and Barbara C. Wallace.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The design of health information websites is increasingly important in this digital age when patients from various socioeconomic and literacy backgrounds use online resources to assess risk for various health conditions and to decide on treatment regimens. The current study had two goals: understanding users’ general design expectations in websites and ascertaining how to build patient-centric health information websites. This study involved the construction of a new online instrument for polling participants’ (N=200) attitudes and beliefs about website design characteristics, and participants’ “stage of change” for using the computer and the Internet to access health information. Descriptive statistics and frequency distributions, highlighting respondents’ utililization and expectations for Web-based health information, were reported. Almost two-thirds of the participants reported confidence in their ability to use computers to access online healthcare information. Participants’ priorities for website design characteristics were listed, in order of importance. Health educators, human factor experts, and health informatics professionals may use the preliminary findings in this study to work with web designers to ensure that interactive, engaging multimodal websites are created that effectively provide health information.

Keywords: Healthcare, Health Communication, Healthcare Websites, User-centered Design, Web User Perception, User Expectations

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.571-588. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.013MB).

Dr. Rupananda Misra

Adjunct Associate Professor, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

I hold masters degrees in communications (focusing on Journalism) and history, and a doctoral degree in education/communication (Columbia University). My postdoctoral training (Columbia University) focused on health Informatics/health communication. I have taught interactive media design for 14 years at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, including 8 years at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I am a full professor at The Art Institute of Philadelphia, and was awarded the “Teaching Excellence Award” and the “Honored Faculty of the Year Award”. My postdoctoral research has focused on exploring how design principles can contribute to the efficacy of health communication across health literacy levels. My doctoral work focused on understanding design issues of government and non-government HIV/AIDS websites. My research interests are to explore possibilities of how design and presentation modalities, particularly interactive multimedia technologies (including immersive interactive 3D environments), can be effectively used in the domains of education, health, communication and business delivered in a variety of formats: smart phones, interactive TV, gaming consoles, etc. I am also interested in the evaluation of human factor principles used in these tools.

Barbara C. Wallace

Professor, Director, Research Group on Disparities in Health, Licensed Psychologist, and Professor of Health Education, Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, Box 114, 525 West 120th Street NY, NY 10027, Columbia University, New York City, New York, USA

Dr. Barbara Wallace is a Psychologist, tenured Professor of Health Education, Director of the Research Group on Disparities in Health, as well as Director of the Global HELP – Health and Education Leadership Program, within the Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a Fellow within Divisions 50 (Addictive Behaviors) and 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Wallace is also author of Making Mandated Addiction Treatment Work (2005, Rowman and Littlefield) and editor of Toward Equity in Health A New Global Approach to Health Disparities (2008, Springer)—as two of her more recent books. Dr. Wallace is interested in integrating evidence-based curricula with webbased multi-media educational technology as a new twenty-first century approach to health promotion and disease prevention.


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