WASHINGTON: More and more consumers are searching for health information online, with around half searching on their mobile phones; it is incumbent on information service providers to respond to these trends, a new Admap paper argues.

Writing in the May issue of Admap, Amanda Kraiger, a strategist and analyst at Sapient Government Services, says relevant, clearly written, and easy to find content "will make or break the success of your public health website."

"For such agencies, a core mission is creating and disseminating evidence-based health information that clearly communicates the latest science while encouraging prevention and management of disease."

However, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 12% of Americans have proficient health literacy skills.

In addition, the research agency Nielsen Norman Group found that web users read only around 20% of the text on an average web page, and to compound the need for efficient delivery, roughly half of site visitors are using a mobile device to look for health information.

As a result, Kraiger notes, public health communicators "need a conscious mobile content strategy to stay relevant and successfully engage."

The first ten seconds of a page visit are "critical in every user's stay-or-go decision." If information and design are not attractive or appealing, if it appears dense or lacks answers, people will inevitably bounce.

Developers should consider how people look for health information, and what need state they may be in, instead of creating a long page that presents the full spectrum of information.

"Keep the 80/20 rule in mind," when putting the page together, Kraiger says. "It's okay if 80% of the content works well with a certain structure; if the other 20% has some nuances, you can address those in creative ways."

"At its core, health literacy is about the ability to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions."

Data sourced from WARC