9 posts from October, 2013

More than a pretty face

Posted October 7th, 2013 by

You’ll soon see some changes to the way PatientsLikeMe looks, including new icons, colors and fonts. This might look like we’re just redecorating, but these changes are fundamental to helping us make the bigger improvements you’ve been asking for. We’re still putting a bit of polish on it, but here’s an overview of what’s changing, and why.

What you’ve told us

To improve your experience on the site, our design team started by interviewing members from many of our communities. We asked about their health experiences in general, then we watched people use PatientsLikeMe. We saw where they got stuck or frustrated and listened closely to what they value most. There were a handful of things we heard repeatedly:

  • There’s a lot of great information, but it could be less cluttered and easier to navigate. Dealing with your health is overwhelming enough as it is.
  • The experience on tablets and phones could be better.
  • Most people are happy to share health data to support research, but it’s not always clear what’s most important to share and why. Entering some kinds of data can also be challenging.
  • Sharing experiences with other members is the best part of the site, so it should be even easier to find and connect with other people who have similar experiences and interests.

What’s changing

Nearly all of the changes you’ll see in the next month are cosmetic, but there are a few places where we’ve changed minor things to be more consistent across the site. The only navigation change you’ll see is in the forums. Because many of you use only one forum, we’ve condensed the left navigation menu into a single list at the top of the page. This leaves more room to read posts, especially for people who need to use larger fonts.

Site style

As for the visual changes, you’ll see that we’ve introduced a white header and a soft blue background texture. This mirrors the shift you may have noticed in our emails and our homepage, making the site more bright and airy.

We’ll now be using fewer colors and icons, so there’s less competing for your attention. The remaining icons are toned down. Soon, the less important links on each page will be getting a more subtle treatment, too. Later this year and early next year, we’ll be simplifying the bright, busy badges and using more consistent colors in the charts to draw your attention or communicate whether something is positive, negative, or neutral.

 

Site style 2

The page headers, buttons, and fonts are getting an upgrade, too. We’re slowly working through each page to make layouts as consistent as possible, so you’ll always know where to look when you want to take an action or see the next page of results.  We’ve also chosen a beautiful new typeface called Avenir Next, which has wide, simple letters that make it a pleasure to read on the screen.

What’s coming later this year and next year

We started with visual design because it will make many of the other upgrades easier. The updated controls are built to be touchscreen-friendly for mobile phones and tablets. Some of the rebuilt pages already resize themselves for smaller screens, and we’ll be upgrading the rest a page at a time. We also have an engineer focused on making our charts work on Apple iOS devices.

You might notice a few odds and ends that feel unfinished, like the badges and charts that clearly don’t match the new look. Unfortunately, trying to upgrade too many things at once tends to cause bugs. Updating a big site is like rewiring an airplane while it’s flying. We hope you can bear with us while we clean up the rough edges as quickly as possible.

Over the next few months, you’ll start seeing big enhancements to our news feeds and journals. First, we’ll make them easier to read and more relevant. After that, we’ll start adding richer content. We’ve noticed our members are making more and more use of these pages, so we think they’ll eventually become the place most people check out first.

We’ll also be making it much easier to share the data that’s most valuable for research (and explaining why it’s important). The three stars page will allow direct data entry and will stop asking for old data. Updating your treatments will get easier, too.

This is just a preview of what’s coming in the near future. We’ve heard all the feedback you’ve been sharing in the forums and in conversations with us, and we have more upgrades planned for next year.

Our members do amazing things together: raising awareness, sharing your experiences to support medical research, and helping each other live better every day. I think our planned improvements will make all of that easier over the next year or so. In the meantime, I hope these first steps will at least make it a little more beautiful.

PatientsLikeMe member KimGoodwin


Did you know it’s Mental Illness Awareness Week?

Posted October 4th, 2013 by

NAMI awareness

The U.S. Congress has recognized the week of October 6th as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), and if you or anyone you know is living with a mental health or neurological condition, it’s time to raise awareness and share your experiences.

Serious mental illnesses cover a lot of different conditions (including depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), and they affect almost five percent of U.S. adults, millions of people.[1] What’s more, the symptoms for each condition described as a mental illness vary greatly. We all have a lot to learn about living with mental illness, and here at PatientsLikeMe, we believe one of the best ways we can live better is through sharing our journeys with one another.

So what else is going on during the week? For starters, MIAW coincides with National Depression Screening Day on October 10th, and you can find out more information about various screenings on the Screening for Mental Health website. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has dozens of other activities planned, and if you are wondering what you can do to help, check out their list of suggestions. You can even share the NAMI’s promotional poster with your friends and family.

The mental health community on PatientsLikeMe loves to chat about everything from general mood updates and photo-blogging to Ryan Gosling, and this week is the perfect time to join the conversation. On PatientsLikeMe, there are over 50,000 members sharing their experiences in the mental health and behavior forums – click here to add your voice to the community today.


[1] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/pdf/NSDUH-SMI-Adults.pdf