I’m not (necessarily) saying that physicians rank MOC up there with death and taxes, but… we know they didn’t pull those all-nighters in med school just so they could navigate through Part II requirements, CME credits, and online payments.

The good news is, medical board content managers aren’t alone.

Let’s look at an example of a site that users want to be done with as quickly as possible: TurboTax. Even if I completely support the government’s use of my hard-earned dollars, I don’t want to spend my whole Sunday afternoon figuring out how much to shell over… and TurboTax knows that.

TurboTax’s landing page provides a set range of user options, shown with kindergarten-simple tile graphics that reduce cognitive strain.

Talk about low cognitive strain. There is one directive, “Tell us about you.” 4 words, 15 letters. Then they’ll do all the work. Great! So I get to pick between six kindergarten-simple graphics. Hopefully, we boards know more about our users once they log in, so the self-identifying question itself may not apply, but the limited number of clearly depicted choices is delightfully simple. I’m practically drawn into the next step.

“But we have so many complicated requirements that doctors have to understand!”

Yes, there is a lot to learn and understand about certification exams, MOC requirements, etc. etc. And… the IRS has ensured that the same is true for income taxes. TurboTax knows I’m a tough consumer, and they don’t leave me in the kindergarten phase. Instead, they show the ways they can help me. I can scroll down the page to compare product features and click off the page to learn more about areas of particular interest.

Scrolling further down TurboTax’s landing page shows various pathways with a highlighted features list and links to deeper levels of content based on user interest. Non-selected info falls back with lower contrasting grays.

Before long, I’m off and running.

The bad news is… not much we can do about death and taxes.

We all, doctors included, imagine ourselves to be intelligent, thoughtful people. But that doesn’t mean we want to know everything all the time. As website content managers, our job is to funnel the information our users need right to them and clear out the rest. Whether they like it or not, this will allow our users to worry about those things that do remain certain.

UX Research Tip: Paper Prototype Testing

Want to find out which page elements your users prefer, but don’t have budget for large web-based tests? It might be counter-intuitive, but even expert UX researchers use a method called “paper prototyping” for rapid feedback with a small number of participants. Whether you use a printout of your live web page and sticky notes to show different label options, or sketch out fresh “wireframe” views with your favorite word processing program, you can put your “web pages” in front of 3-5 users for very quick basic feedback. Questions can include things like:

  • “What might you typically be trying to accomplish on this page?”
  • “What would you expect to happen if you clicked here?”
  • “What might you expect this button to be called?”
  • “Anything you were looking for but didn’t see?”

Remember, you don’t need a hundred opinions to validate your approach. UX guru Steven Krug said in a recent panel discussion, “How many times do you have to see people trip on the carpet before you decide there’s a problem?” (Note: Your board’s internal physicians are end users of the website and portal too… why not start with them?)

Participant #1’s responses to a very simple paper prototyping exercise. Green stickies identified where he would click to find the required information, and blue slips of paper with varying labels indicated which wording he preferred.