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Vol. LIX, No. 15
July 27, 2007
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NIH Web Site Gets New Look

New NIH Web Site
NIH will soon launch a revamped web site that incorporates the latest thinking about effective web design. The new homepage emphasizes visual elements and dynamic links and is more sparing with text.

Good communicators know that, to get a message across quickly and effectively, say it with pictures. Web studies show that people's eyes gravitate to images and movement, and readers tend to skip over blocks of text when searching for information. Instead, their eyes scan for links that might have information they seek.

NIH will soon launch a revamped web site that represents the latest thinking about effective web design. The new homepage emphasizes visual elements and dynamic links and is more sparing with text. "We kept much of what worked from the previous version, which has served us well since 2000, but our research showed where improvements could be made," said Dennis Rodrigues, chief of the Online Information Branch in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, which develops and manages the main NIH web site.

Before making revisions, Rodrigues and his web team conducted extensive research, including an online survey of visitors to the NIH web site and a usability study, which observed health care providers, scientists and patients as they navigated the site and tried to answer specific questions. "When we asked people to find information that was clearly described in the center of our old homepage, they couldn't find it. They weren't reading the text," Rodrigues said.

To make it easier to locate new and important information, the redesigned site replaces the text-heavy center of the old page with a dynamic visual area - a five-panel slideshow - that will be regularly updated to feature the latest activities of NIH's 27 institutes and centers. Navigation tabs across the top of the page will open drop-down menus, which link to key content. The NIH employee information link, a popular feature of the old design, remains on the new homepage, now in the upper right corner.

Additional revisions are described in an online guide to the redesign at www.nih.gov/news/redesign/overview.htm. For more information about the new NIH web site, contact the Online Information Branch at olib@od.nih.gov. NIH Record Icon

Redesign Adds Resources

Other features of the new NIH homepage include:

  • Quick links to information on research funding. The user survey showed that many visitors wanted to quickly learn how to apply for grants. "The new page has one-click solutions to their most frequent requests," said Dennis Rodrigues, chief of the Online Information Branch, OD.
  • Improved access to research training opportunities.
  • A subscription link, where visitors can select from more than 40 NIH e-newsletters, RSS feeds and podcast subscriptions.

The redo also contains a link to the newly redesigned Office of Extramural Research homepage that features:

  • A user-friendly layout, new search tools, updated links and resources.
  • New content areas including an overview of the NIH grants process.
  • New electronic research administration (eRA) web site that highlights system features and prominently displays resources.

For more information, visit the NIH Extramural Nexus at grants1.nih.gov/grants/partners/0507Nexus.htm.

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