Introducing BMJ’s Best Health

How many people know that the BMJ Group produces a high quality, evidence-based health information service, aimed at consumers? Probably not enough, which is one reason I want to make a noise about the newly launched Best Health website, of which I’m senior editor.

The site provides in-depth health information on 190 common conditions, based on the rigorously-researched information we provide to doctors. We rate treatments according to how well they work, according to the best-available evidence. So you can find out whether it’s worth having that big operation, or whether a course of physiotherapy might be all you need.

Over recent years, we’ve added a weekly news analysis service, produced podcasts and videos, and written printable summary leaflets for all our in-depth conditions. This new material was sent to our corporate clients for use on their own website. Until now, we’ve been unable to show them on our own site.

But we wanted to do more than add new material. We wanted to freshen the site up, make it cleaner and easier to navigate, too.  

It was the first time I’d worked on a website re-design, and the brief from the technical team was to start from scratch. We began by pulling together all the feedback we’d had from readers, and I reviewed it to find common themes.

I handed all this over to the designers, and came up with some proposals for wire frames, based on use cases. The Best Health editors and production staff met weekly with the technical team, thrashing out problems as they arose. It was exciting to see the first designs for the site – clean, crisp and with plenty of white space.

Some subtle changes made a great difference to the site. Our ‘further information’ pages, formerly treated as generic sidebars leading off standard pages, can now be grouped together and highlighted in the navigation, allowing us to surface some useful content that had been buried on the previous site. We’ve applied the new group search, which is a big improvement on our previous search functionality. And not only can we display our news stories; we can now link them to our in-depth information on specific topics, and if you look at a specific condition, you can see the relevant news stories attached. Small changes, but they help the site look up to date and relevant.

I’m particularly pleased that we have a good platform to show our health information videos, which range from how to deal with head lice, to what you can expect after a diagnosis of testicular cancer.

The site is partially behind a pay wall, for our institutional and individual subscribers, although you can view news and videos free of charge.

I hope the site will provide an enhanced experience for existing and future subscribers, and also act as a showcase to demonstrate the breadth and quality of the consumer services we provide at BMJ Group. Do take a look at http://besthealth.bmj.com and let me know what you think.

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