Humanising Ministry of Health-Bulgaria Website
The Ministry of Health — Bulgaria is a public institution, responsible for improving the state of the nation’s health through implementing policies for integrated prevention, early diagnostics and effective disease treatment.
It is composed of a hierarchical structure of administrative and specialized directories, and is responsible for the good governance and budget allocation of government hospitals, emergency centers, health inspection bodies and other executive and controlling entities in the Health sector.
The Health sector and its reform are among the most important and topical matters in Bulgaria’s public space. The reform strives at greater efficiency, transparency, accountability and dialogue among different stakeholders, and thus creates the necessity for effective communication processes and channels.
It was our mission to create a representative website that serves the information needs of different target groups including patients, journalists, politicians, employees, other public institutions, as well as private companies within the health sector. The website had to present the rich and complex content in a comprehensive manner compliant with all legal requirements.
The project started with a thorough research on the target audience and analysis of their information demands, perceived deficiencies of the current website and optimization opportunities. The results clearly indicated the need for a total restructuring of the website and rethinking the way it communicates with the audience.
Within a dedicated team we managed to complete the entire project in 2 months, from design, through information architecture and programming, to content optimization and transfer, the latter referring to over 200 pages, 5700 news and 3600 files after filtering out the outdated and duplicated information.
Some of the useful methods we used are card sorting (at the information architecture stage) and early prototype testing by end-users (at both the design and information architecture stages).
The Problem Solving
One of the main issues we faced was the immense amount of content that was disarranged and often duplicated and outdated. The website’s content legacy resembled a patchwork of content, added at different points of time without consideration of previous changes and a guiding principle.
In order to filter and structure properly the content we consulted with experts from the Ministry, as well as end-users. To secure that the standard will be met in the future we created an easy-to-use content management system that supports the administrators and gives a clear track record of admins’ actions and entries. We worked along with administrators to set content management rules of thumb and conducted admin trainings. Another major obstacle was to change the way the Ministry is communicating with its website users. So far, the communication has been mainly one-sided, from the Ministry outwards, and predominated by administrative and legal terms that are hard to understand by non-experts.
We had to ensure that the content is both understandable and compliant to the existing administrative and legal requirements. We set a standard for categorising and naming news, files, and pages, and added descriptions that translate in every day’s language the complicated terms and abbreviations. Along with decision makers and admins within the Ministry we developed feedback mechanisms to enable dialogue, as well as reporting tools to ensure better accountability.
- Clear structure, organized by the type of audience.
- Unique content of every page, “translated” into every day’s language.
- Mechanisms to foster communication with the end-user.
- Minimalistic design that allows users to focus on the important information
- Tools demonstrating the Ministry’s activities, achievements and “human face”.
- User-friendly content management system.