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


25 Comments

  1. Exciting times ahead for this wonderful website. It is good to see it grow and grow.

    All the best
    Elena

  2. Y’all are awesome!! I would be lost, hurting and much sicker than I am without all I’ve learned from PLM. The folks on my forum (fibro, cfs, etc.) have encouraged me to further testing and treatments that are changing my life.

  3. An improvement in the way a person can aid others in making it through their troubled times is much appreciated. If I can help just one do so I would feel I have said the proper thanks for the help I got. You may ask about the time and help received. I had Epilepsy for 33 years and received personal help from many. Then in 2005 the cause of this problem was found and corrective steps were taken. After passing all test and taking the proper steps I now aid others by doing Auxiliary work at the local hospital. Each “Thank you” I hear eases the stress I felt in the past.

  4. Great and important project. Thanks for your hard work.

  5. Thank you for the alert to these coming changes! And I am so happy to learn of them as I am one of the recent sign-ons to get lost and sometimes confused about filling out charts.

    I am finding the information here very helpful.

    Ragtop

  6. Thanks! My fibro brain which found the site a but confusing plus the inability to access my profile on my iPad has cooled off my use. But it is a site a value and look forward to the new, refined site. Thanks.

  7. Thanks so much for helping to ease us into these future changes. I hope we will retain the ability to choose a comfortable font size with the new programs as that is very helpful for me. I love reading on this site and feel that there is so much to be gained by sharing experiences. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  8. I appreciate that you realize that starting with “basic” things like fonts and font size is actually like re-building PLM from the ground up again. Having a little more than half a journalism degree taught me the importance of how fonts affect people and either help or hinder their ability to read as well as feeling unconsciously attracted to read the texts because they are attractive to the eye. This is no small thing whether you are respected book publishing company, a magazine or an internet site.

    The PLM population that use it in all or most of the ways it can be used need all the help they can get to navigate everything from their medical history, their updates, their feedback on treatments used whether past or present to help others and so much more.

    I look forward to your continuing to improve PLM’s look, ease of use, and ease of communication to you and each other by these important methods.
    Thanks,
    Chelena

  9. Hi, I did not see Alkaptonurialisted on page? I’m sure it will be included.We all who are affected had much to learn and say about this terrible disease….thank you.

  10. We have lewys body dementia in the family and I am trying to share information with others who have had experience. Thanks

  11. Love the changes, and all PLM has in store for us! Hopefully you all feel great about everything you’re doing for so many people face challenging chronic illnesses by providing reliable, current information, and a safe place to go to share an encourage one another. Thank you For making such a positive difference in the lives of so many! 🙂 Jen (living well with SPMS since 1997)

  12. It would be of a great help if symptom tracking had an average option. Currently I’ve been trying to do this myself on Excel, however it is becoming more and more taxing and I’ve already fallen more than a month behind. I would like to be able to see at a glance how each symptom effects me by the month, the quarter, etc.
    Also, it would save a great deal of time and provide better accuracy if a symptom could be changed while tracking is active. ie, to be able to change “hand tremor” to “tremor”, or vise versa, without losing severe scores to date.
    Thank you for all you do!

  13. I HAVE TO ADMIT I HAD PRETTY MUCH GIVEN UP BECAUSE THIS SITE REQUIRED SO MUCH FROM MY CFS ”BRAIN FOGGED” BRAIN & I JUST DIDN’T HAVE THE PATIENCE TO NAVIGATE IT!! HOWEVER, I DO HAVE A VERY BIG THANK YOU FOR 2 WONDERFUL FELLOW CFS FRIENDS THAT I MET HERE. WE EMAIL & SHARE ON FACEBOOK. BEFORE THAT I HAD NEVER MET ANYONE WITH CFS/ME. IT’S BEEN WONDERFUL TO FINALLY, AFTER 11 YEARS, HAVE SOMEONE I CAN TALK TO ABOUT THIS. BECAUSE OF THEM, I’VE ALSO DISCOVERED SOME WONDERFUL BLOGGERS, AS WELL. IT’S HELPED ME APPRECIATE THAT I’M DOING AS WELL AS I AM. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE UNBELIEVABLY ILL!

  14. Great site, but yes the bigger font would help for us old farts :0)
    Thank you so much for putting this site all together and being so compassionate & caring.
    God Bless & Keep the faith!
    Peace,
    Grace
    Fibromyalgia/Diabetic (HORRIBLE COMBO)

  15. I KNOW THAT SOME OF THE MEMBERS THAT HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR SOME TIME WILL FEEL THAT THE IMPROVEMENTS ARE NOT USER FRIENDLY. ( I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE AS I HAVE BEEN A MEMBER OF PLM FOR OVER 6 YEARS NOW!) BEFORE WE KNOW IT, WE WILL ALL BE NAVIGATING AROUND PLM LIKE WE NEVER HAD ANY CHANGES MADE AT ALL-IT JUST TAKES A LITTLE TIME TO GET USED TO.
    THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR CONTINUED WORK ON IMPROVING THE FUNCTIONS OF PLM. THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES WHEN PLM HAS BEEN THERE FOR ME, WHEN THERE WAS NO-ONE ELSE WHO UNDERSTOOD HOW MY LIFE WAS GOING. PLM HAS HELPED ME IN SO MANY WAYS! I APPRECIATE PLM VERY MUCH!
    TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND OTHERS,
    KAREN AKA ~KEEPER

  16. I like the cleaner look and in theory I like the type face except against the white background it appears almost faded to me. I’ve increased the size on my laptop to see if that helps and it does somewhat but it can’t overcome the basic “thinness” of the font. I don’t have a set of “computer glasses” which obviously would help a lot but I can’t even afford to get a new pair of distance glasses in the last year.

    Next I am going to try and see if I can change my chief diagnosis. Since I came to PLM PTSD was my primary, side by side with chronic severe depression. I climbed out of those two holes enough to feel safe enough to keep them on my lists but definitely on the back burner compared to the sudden worsening of my Fibromyalgia, back and hip pain. The fibro was crippling when active but my back and hip pains became increasingly worse 24/7. I had to beg to see a specialist and have an MRI. Was sent to a “PM and R” doc who said the MRI showed that I had a pinched nerve and there was nothing I could do about it except try out Gabapentin. That was over a year ago.

    Long story short, I don’t have a pinched nerve or neuralgia at all. I need a new left hip — I had to go outside Kaiser for a second opinion to wake up my “docs” at Kaiser. I find it difficult to change my primary diagnosis for some reason. Is putting Osteoarthritis just not acceptable to have for a person who started out in Mental Health and Conditions?

  17. i cant find a place to indicate that i have discontinued a medication in the treatments page. i only saw options to evaluate. i liked it fine, but am no longer taking because md said it wasnt helping me.

  18. Thank You, Thank you, Thank you, what more can I say.
    God Bless everyone involved (Patients as well).

  19. I WILL WAIT TO MAKE A COMMENT.I AM 73 YRS YOUNG.A DISABLED RETIRED NURSE.I HAVE TOO MANY MEDICAL PROBLEMS T LIST TONIGHT.ONE IS ALKAPTONURIA A VERY RARE DISEASE. I I NOT SEE THAT ON THE LIST??WHY?.I HAVE NOT DONE MY PROFILE YET BUT I HAVE CONNECTED TO A COUPLE OF PEOPLE WITH THE SAME DISEASE.THIS IS MY VERY FIRST TRY AT THE COMPUTER,SO I AM STILL LEARNING HOW TO NAVIGATE THE KINDLE FIRE.GETTING THERE SLOWLY.I HAVE ALOT OF INFO TO GIVE OUT FOR PERSONS IN NEED.I HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING THIS DISEASE SINCE I WAS DX. AT THE AGE OF43.IT SURELY HAS A BAD REPUTATION.THE OLDER ONE GETS CAN LEAVE TEARS IN YOUR EYES.IT DEFINITELY IS A CHALLANGE.WITH THIS BLOG,AND WHAT I KNOW ALREADY ALONG WITH CONVERSATIIONS WITH OTHERS WILL BE VERY INTERESTING.I’M LOOKING FOWARD TO BE A PART OF IT. “THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW” FOR ALL OF US CHAMPIONS!!!!…..THE BEST OF LUCK KIM WITH YOUR NEW VENTURE…

  20. I just want to comment on how great the new page looks great job!

  21. Very much looking forward to the new changes while I’m still learning to navigate the site.

  22. The smaller weird font and the grey / light blue colour makes the site very hard to see if you have a visual handicap.

  23. Kim, you are brilliant. We — and PLM — are so lucky to have you. Beautiful changes!
    It’s a joy to watch the site and service emerge from the small beginnings to a worldwide resource.

  24. Thank you for listening to our concerns. I have always loved this site and I look forward to visiting more often and taking advantage of the improvements that have been made by the PLM team! Thank you all very much.

  25. The new font is so easy on the eyes! The softer colors cause less eye strain too. Keep on running with these great ideas. It looks great, works great, and I don’t see any evidence of growing pains through the upgrades at all. You have accomplished a lot. You have come up with a font that is easy to read with Fibro-fog and Dyslexia and my out of date glasses! Well done.

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