This weekend I was invited to run a workshop for medical students about building quality websites. Yes: medical students.
This was a conference for students running their medical school society committees – so, students from across the UK – and my session was for those with responsibility for their society websites this year.
Because every medical school and every MedSoc is set up slightly differently, each is different, but primarily the purposes of their websites are to:
- inform (about education, about events, about current – medical – news, and about welfare)
- recruit (new medical students; new MedSoc members; volunteers)
- sell (event tickets and other items)
- share (create a community of support for their peers).
We ran through an exercise of examining the home pages of a few MedSoc sites to see which items of good practice could be identified and used by others. We found a fair few reusable ideas for MedSoc sites, and it also became clear that what the students were looking for on these sites included:
- an explanation of who is behind the site and what they do
- a statement of why the visitor should join (the school and/or the society)
- fresh – and useful – content for visitors of different types
- contact details.
Why would you care about this?
Some of these are things that companies should consider with respect to their own sites (not yours: obviously you’ve covered these bases). But there is more to it than that:
These students were bright and highly motivated – unsurprisingly, since these were medics. They were also very clear on what they saw as a quality website; and they almost all used the internet with a mobile device (usually a smartphone). What do you think they make of your site?
I sat in on one of the earlier conference sessions, and heard from a 5th year medical student building revision apps using medical expertise from his peers and from hospital consultants.
These students are a select group, and further self-selected by finding time out of their intensive course not only to run a student society but also to get to their annual conference. And to find time to build an app as well…
- mass communication
These students are individually willing to voice their opinions and to speak up for themselves and the people they represent. The official theme of the conference was 2020; the unofficial theme that one attendee thought was developing was the need to band together to achieve more—from pooling the results of the revision apps worldwide, so that individuals could compare their own progress with results from their peers around the world, to the MedSoc webmasters sharing best practice and technical support in earning revenue from their websites.
So: what are you doing to prepare for a future in which individuals are demanding service from you from wherever they happen to be, using whatever device they prefer, with virtually instant access to information and with the backing of their peers around the world?
Here’s the outline I used to generate discussion, together with screenshots of a few of the MedSoc websites
Thanks to Birmingham MedSoc for the invitation to participate.
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