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 November 22, 2002 [posted]
 
 
 MedlinePlus® Introduces New Design and Organizational Structure
 
 

drop cap letter for t he November 21, 2002 release of MedlinePlus, Version 10.5, introduces a new design and organizational structure. These changes result from extensive usability testing, consumer feedback and advances in Web design and standards. Since MedlinePlus' inception in October 1998, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has performed a range of usability testing on the site, including expert evaluation, informal user questioning and formal, videotaped observation of people using the site for the first time.

The new design retains many elements of the current site, but now features:

A three-column home page with links to featured MedlinePlus content
In the left column of the home page, MedlinePlus retains the current five categories and adds two new ones: Medical Encyclopedia and News. The categories' descriptions have been modified to include more consumer-friendly language, such as "prescription and over-the-counter medicines."

The center column retains links to current health news and the featured site. This column also introduces a "Spotlight" area, featuring links to other MedlinePlus content in the news.

The third column features prominent links to the interactive tutorials, to ClinicalTrials.gov, and to NIHSeniorHealth.gov. The tutorials can still be accessed from the main health topics page as well.

To add the third column to the home page, we removed the photographs on the left side. However, a number of different, larger photographs will appear in the banner every time users visit MedlinePlus or reload their Web browsers.

New secondary banners and top navigation bar
Every MedlinePlus page retains a search box, global site navigation, including a link to the frequently asked questions (FAQs), and content-related photographs. Additionally, the seven major MedlinePlus categories are now available as tabs. Category tabs remain highlighted as users drill down to desired information. This feature provides an additional navigational clue and should particularly help users who come to MedlinePlus from search engines, bookmarks, or favorites.

New search engine
MedlinePlus also features a new search engine with a new look. Search results are grouped into separate folders for Health Topics, Medical Encyclopedia, Drug Information, and News. In addition, links from the Health Topics pages are also searched. The search engine, produced by a company named RecomMind, uses concepts as well as search words to find results.

Spanish MedlinePlus
The redesign of Spanish MedlinePlus is similar to the English site. However, Spanish MedlinePlus retains the current three categories in the left column and has no health news. Spanish news is expected in 2003.

No URLs have been changed as a result of the redesign. As always, NLM welcomes any comments and suggestions about MedlinePlus. A link to "Contact Us" is now at the top of every page.



By Jennifer Marill
Public Services Division

black line separting article from citation

Marill J. MedlinePlus® Introduces New Design and Organizational Structure. NLM Tech Bull. 2002 Nov-Dec;(329):e3.

 


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