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Audience-driven Web Design: An Application to Medical Web Sites

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While most methods of audience analysis include a participatory component that may be both time consuming and expensive, our article proposes a methodology that allows for a simpler, more practical approach to Web design, one that is enhanced by technology and rhetorically motivated. Our methodology relies on monitoring online listserv and Usenet discussions to reveal audience needs and expectations. By analyzing these online discussions, we were able to develop a user profile of our audience and use this profile to redesign a medical Web site without direct user interaction. As such, we consider our methodology in Web site design to be audience driven, in that we identified specific information about our audience, their needs, and their expectations and used this information to incorporate elements of credibility into a Web site.

This article presents a case study in audience-driven Web site design and, more specifically, Web site design that addresses elements of medical Web site credibility. We begin by identifying the problem of defining medical Web site credibility and the gap in current Web design research. This gap fails to identify or address specific audience needs. After presenting our methodology in audience-driven design of a medical Web site, we describe a conceptual framework that identifies elements of credibility and guides our discussion of audience-driven Web design.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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