Internet-Based Health Communication
Almost all existing governments, businesses, organizations, and other groups utilize the internet. They have websites that serve as a hub of information for all manner of topics and promotional campaigns. Along with their websites, they create and utilize various online media tools such as buttons, badges, E-cards, and widgets to advertise content, promote campaigns, and entice users to further explore and use their site and products; these items are often created and utilized on both home and social media sites.
Internet communication and content promotion should serve all potential users equally and effectively. This includes individuals with a range of disabilities which may make certain technologies more difficult to use and/or comprehend. Below are brief descriptions of various tools that may be used on websites, followed by a series of strategies to apply when creating and/or utilizing these tools. Consider them to ensure that messages reach every potential target audience member.
Buttons and badges
Buttons and badges are used to expand the reach of campaigns and signify support for the campaign by organizations and individuals. Both of these tools provide images and/or brief snippets of written information regarding a campaign. When a website visitor clicks on a button or badge, they are redirected to the campaign’s home page or sponsor organization, where they can learn more about the campaign.
Buttons are strategically placed on various websites by organizations to catch the attention of that website’s visitors. Often this is done by partnering organizations to ensure as many users as possible are made aware of healthy initiatives and programs that they may otherwise miss. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) might post a button regarding a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention healthy eating campaign on the USDA’s MyPlate website, which also addresses healthy eating.
Like buttons, badges are also posted on websites. Specifically, they are posted on social media sites. Individuals and organizations may post these badges on their walls, profiles, and/or home pages. They are intended to be a means of showing support for or affiliation with a specific campaign to increase the number of individuals engaging in and benefitting from that campaign. For the example above, a dietician may post a badge regarding the CDC’s healthy eating campaign on his or her Facebook wall or profile.
eCards are specialized communication tools used to encourage healthy behaviors and activities on an individual level. Unlike buttons and badges, which are simply posted for website visitors to see, eCards are actively sent to individuals in an attempt to engage them on a personal level, involve them in a campaign that may benefit them, and increase that campaign’s overall effectiveness. eCard campaigns depend on establishing a level of personalized commitment. As such, these campaigns include multiple cards with a variety of unique images and messages that attempt to establish a personal connection with recipients. They can be sent in mass format by an organization, or an eCard database can be created, searched, and used by individuals looking for an eCard to send to another individual or group.
Much like buttons and badges, widgets are embedded on websites as tools for information dissemination. However, while buttons and badges are static, carrying only one message for as long as they remain posted, widgets are dynamic. Widget creators can manually update content or set widgets to automatically draw content from other sources as those sources are updated. Thus, widgets perpetually feature new, up-to-date information in several formats, including written, audio, and video messages, mined content from rich site summary (RSS) feeds, and/or quizzes and other interactive challenges. They remain relevant for longer periods of time than buttons, badges, or eCards because they are constantly being updated with new content.
When planning and designing various campaign elements. In general, create messages and images that include individuals with disabilities to ensure that people with disabilities feel equally engaged with your campaign. Additionally, create, make available, and promote communication and messaging options that are accessible to ensure that your campaign affects and benefits individuals with disabilities within the larger targeted population.
When utilizing a website and/or any of the tools to promote information regarding healthy activities, programs, research, and/or campaigns, consider the following points, as well as those made in the previous “Web Accessibility” section: