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2007 MARCH–APRIL; 355
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April 12, 2007 [posted]

MedlinePlus® Debut of New Health Topic Page Content and Design

t he March 28, 2007 release of MedlinePlus, Version 20, introduces images, summaries, and new design elements to the site's English and Spanish Health Topic pages. These additions, informed by customer feedback and extensive usability testing, enhance the user experience on MedlinePlus pages covering 740 diseases and conditions.

Vibrant Images

The image-rich resources on MedlinePlus – such as the encyclopedia and the interactive tutorials – are consistently popular. These resources routinely earn accolades from MedlinePlus users, and they also inspire requests for more visuals. Participants in usability tests responded to images on the Health Topic pages with great enthusiasm. As a result, each Health Topic page now displays a photograph or an illustration.

Helpful Information at the Top of the Page

MedlinePlus Health Topic pages link to a wealth of authoritative health information. Still, users expressed a desire to read an introduction to the disease or condition before perusing these links. Accordingly, a brief summary now displays at the top of the Health Topic pages. Composed by experienced medical writers and reviewed by NLM® staff, these summaries are based largely on NIH information. They are written at an easy-to-read level and include links to related topics. As of March 28th, summaries appear on many, but not all, Health Topic pages. All English and Spanish Health Topic pages will include a summary in the near future.

MedlinePlus Health Topic names are selected to be as consumer-friendly as possible. However, users may know a condition by another name or their doctors may use a different term. For example, transient ischemic attack is also commonly known as a mini-stroke or TIA. To reassure users that they are looking at the right topic, these synonyms now appear directly under the MedlinePlus topic name on many Health Topic pages.

A new category, labeled Start Here, links users to overviews and important information for first-time visitors. MedlinePlus users will find authoritative information from NIH, health check tools, and interactive tutorials under the Start Here category.

At-a-Glance Navigation

For MedlinePlus users who want to dive past the summary and the Start Here sites, the improved navigation on the Health Topic pages helps them find their destination. The new, centrally-located table of contents divides the MedlinePlus subcategories into six boxes and shows users everything on the page at a glance. If users want to watch a video, they will find a link for videos in the orange Multimedia & Cool Tools box. If they want information on clinical trials, they can navigate via the brown Research box. The redesigned table of contents adds color and ease-of-use to the MedlinePlus Health Topic pages.

For more information about the changes, please see the FAQ in English or Spanish.

As always, NLM welcomes your comments and suggestions about MedlinePlus. A "Contact Us" link appears at the top of every MedlinePlus page.

By Loren Frant
Reference & Web Services Section

Frant L. MedlinePlus® Debut of New Health Topic Page Content and Design. NLM Tech Bull. 2007 Mar-Apr; (355):e10.

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