With the launch of Revolution Health today, WebMD also decided to launch their latest version for preview. Whereas we find Revolution’s navigation and layout a bit confusing for newcomers, we found the new WebMD way cluttered and just plain overwhelming. WebMD’s new design screams, “This was designed by a committee.”
There is a certain elegance to Revolution’s decision to create a minimal look and layout for their pages which is in stark contrast to WebMD’s pages. For instance, the Depression center homepage on WebMD includes over 100 possible navigation choices! That seems a bit overwhelming for the average user, especially when one of the purposes of a site like WebMD is to provide a clear path for users and to help make overwhelming amounts of information easier to digest.
Comparing Search Efforts
Search is an interesting exercise as well on both sites. Searching for “depression” on boths sites, the top results link to Revolution’s Depression center, but they aren’t clearly labeled as such. Initially we overlooked them because visually, they reminded us of sponsored links. We clicked on the first (of many articles) simply labeled, “Depression” which took us to a single page within the Revolution Depression center. Revolution’s search results also pull in everything from the Internet as well, with no apparent simple way to say, “Hey, I was really only looking for stuff on Revolution,” the default for most websites’ internal search engines. We couldn’t find an “advanced search option.”
On WebMD, the first result is clearly labeled “Depression Health Center” and occurs after a list of sponsored results. However, WebMD also seems to offer no obvious “advanced search” option, but does provide results only from their own network of websites as the default. Using a simple, three-tab design allows a user at WebMD to readily switch search results in-between WebMD, to Medline, to the Web. Web search results were provided by Google, while Medline’s search results were provided by the Medline database.
Given that both of these sites are in a preview edition, it’s easy to criticize design or layout decisions that can be readily corrected before their mainstream launch. But they did ask us to look and provide feedback, so there ya go! (We also ran into some connection problems trying to get to the Revolution website this morning, which we hope isn’t related to reports that they are running Ruby on Rails.)