AAOS Bulletin - October, 2006

New AAOS Web site responds to members’ needs

By Carolyn Rogers

If you visited the AAOS Web site on Sept. 7, 2006, you would have been greeted by a colorful screen—loaded with links, logos and catchy icons. Any orthopaedic- or AAOS-related information you could want was available “at your fingertips.” Unfortunately, you might have had trouble finding that information, or even knowing where to start.

Fast forward just 72 hours, and your experience at www.aaos.org would be vastly different. Thanks to a major overhaul of the site’s “look and feel,” navigational scheme and organizational structure, you might even have thought you landed on the wrong site! A new, sleeker look, standardized fonts and formatting, and more intuitive organization of content should make future visits to www.aaos.org quicker, easier and more fruitful.

“The new upgraded AAOS Web site is a vast improvement over the previous offering,” says Frank B. Kelly, MD, chair of the AAOS Communications Cabinet. “It’s more appealing to look at and much easier to navigate. The Academy has done a wonderful job with the reorganization of the content, as well. It’s much more ‘user-friendly,’ which is really great for the fellowship.”

Previous site lacked “consistency”
The Academy first launched its Web site in June 1995, when the Internet was still new to the general public. The last major design changes to the site’s “look and feel” and its navigational elements occurred several years ago.

“Over time, the Web site’s consistency became, well, inconsistent,” says Jim Ogle, director of information services. “Members often complained that they couldn’t readily find what they were looking for.”

To address this problem, the AAOS hired two consulting companies—The Usability Testing and Evaluation Center of the Illinois Institute of Technology and Webitects.com, a Chicago Web site development firm. In 2005, the consultants conducted usability studies of the site, and based on the results, advised the Academy on how best to structure the site for use by members, the health care community and the general public.

Design recommendations
After analyzing data from the usability tests and thoroughly reviewing the Web site, the consultants made the following recommendations:

  • Revamp the site’s overall “look and feel,” using consistent formatting, fonts, colors and navigation throughout all sections.
  • Simplify the home page and minimize the use of confusing icons and logos.
  • Use commonly recognized terms, such as “Calendar,” “Store,” and “News Bureau.”
  • Replace the site’s current organizational structure—which reflected the Academy’s internal departmental chart—with six main content categories.
  • Install a new, more robust search engine. This new search engine, the GoogleMini, was installed in late 2005.

Usability studies yield some surprises
The recommendations were based, in part, on input from usability studies that measured the site’s ease of navigation and the users’ ability to find information. Study participants included 10 AAOS members, four allied-health care professionals, three patients and two members of the media.

One of the studies required participants to execute a preselected set of tasks, or “scripts,” such as:

  • “Find a text book on practice management and purchase it.”
  • “Find an orthopaedic surgeon in Chicago who specializes in joint replacement.”
  • “Find a position statement on Physician-Owned Physical Therapy Services.”

The surprising findings? Only 50 percent of the tasks could be completed in the time allotted. “The information was there—it just wasn’t always clear how to find it,” Ogle says.

A second exercise was the “card sort,” in which two groups of AAOS members categorized 56 cards depicting various Web site topics into different columns, according to similarity of content. At the end of the exercise, the groups were asked to name each of the columns. The six categories that resulted from this exercise formed the basis for the structure of the new site.

The studies also revealed that many users were confused by the site’s terminology. Some nonmembers, for example, were not aware that AAOS had an electronic commerce section.

“They expected to see words such as ‘buy’ or ‘store’ instead of the previous ‘Educational Resources Catalog,’” Ogle explains.

Another significant finding was that many users didn’t realize the site’s numerous icons could be “clicked” for further information.

New site layout, organization
The revamped site features a primary navigation bar that runs horizontally across the top of every page. This bar includes a link to the home page, as well as links to the following six categories:

  • News and Journals
  • Physician Education
  • Government Relations
  • Research
  • About AAOS
  • Member Services

Prior to the launch, AAOS information services’ staff manually reviewed each of the 30,000 existing Web pages and classified them into one of the six categories.

The new site also features a secondary, vertical navigation bar on the left-hand side of each page. This bar’s content changes and corresponds to the category selected (such as News and Journals or Research). When a user searches within a category, the vertical navigation bar remains unchanged.

A third element that appears on every page is a series of links—located on the upper right-hand corner of the screen—that includes these commonly used features:

Calendar—A list of upcoming orthopaedic meetings and events, searchable by date, type of meeting/event, participants, keyword and more

News Bureau—A page with links to Hot Topics, information on upcoming events, current issues of JAAOS and the Bulletin, as well as other news-related items

Cart—“AAOS Shopping Cart” shows the products the user has selected for purchase during that online session.

Store—The place where users can purchase AAOS products such as textbooks, digital media, videos and self-assessment exams, and register for upcoming CME courses. The new store also highlights a “featured product,” as well as new products and special deals.

Find an Orthopaedist—This feature allows the user to search for an orthopaedist by city and/or state/province; zip code; last name or country. On the previous site, results were limited to 10 listings at a time. Now up to 100 orthopaedists are listed per page.

Search—The search box enables the user to search either the entire site or a specific section, such as AAOS Bulletin, Practice Management Issues or CME Courses. It also offers an “Advance Search and Archives” option.

Dr. Kelly’s favorite feature is the private membership directory, available under the “Member Services” tab.

“Being able to click on the private membership list and quickly bring up e-mail addresses for so many AAOS members is a real timesaver,” he says. “Although this information was available on the previous site, it was difficult to find.”

Due to privacy concerns, the Academy’s printed directory of members does not include e-mail addresses in its listings. Because the online membership directory is password-protected and not available to the general public, many more members are providing the AAOS with their e-mail addresses.

“It’s so simple now,” says Dr. Kelly. “I’ve already used this feature several times just in the few weeks that the site’s been up.”

What else is new?
The new AAOS home page takes the place of the previous What’s New page and features only timely information—such as announcements of upcoming events, current articles and recently released products. Aside from the primary navigation bars, no permanent links will reside on the home page.

AAOS members are greeted by name when they log on to the site, which they are able to do from any page.

Each page automatically prints in a “Web-friendly” format. This function strips out the navigation bars and other extraneous items on the screen, printing only the text that appears at the center of the page.

The new site features fewer graphics, which means that pages load faster.

Each page of the site also includes a link to “Patient information”—the Academy’s Your Orthopaedic Connection Web site.

If you haven’t visited the new Web site yet, be sure to stop by and explore it today!

Carolyn Rogers is a staff writer in the publications department. She can be reached at rogers@aaos.org

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