Making “Scientifically-Accurate” Information Meaningful

Most of the time, Usability Matters is part of a client’s multi-vendor ecology. It is great to be one of several specialists working on particular aspects of a digital product. However, sometimes, this means that the client is left to balance conflicting advice from several trusted sources.

This was the case recently on a project with a major health-focused non-profit. The project owner was forced to balance input from the UX designers (Usability Matters) as well as internal stakeholders, an external content advisor and subject matter experts (healthcare professionals). One of the more contentious issues was outlined in our recent IA Summit 2012 poster Making “Scientifically-Accurate” Information Meaningful to Health Information Consumers.

Our recommended solution was the use of plain language, chunked content, progressive disclosure and, where possible, graphic representation of information. While many of our recommendations were followed, the end result was still too dense and hard to absorb. So – our question to ourselves and our client – what can we do differently to improve the end product?

On a current project with the same client, Usability Matters has responsibility for the content strategy, writing and layout. It is still early days but so far we are pleased with the process and outcome. While we have saved our client from being the one who has to find the balance between the UX designer and the content editor, he still has to shepherd the content through the approval process including the “science police” and translators. This sounds like fodder for a follow-up poster at IA Summit 2013!