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September 18, 2012

Why am I involved?

That is a question I was recently asked and quite frankly couldn't directly answer. I immediately thought my answer would be "I’m involved for the purpose of spreading HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention strategies to African-American females seeking answers to their health concerns." Although my response sounded decent, I still pondered that same question throughout the day. It wasn't until I got home later that night and watched Apple unveil its latest smartphone that everything clicked. As an avid fan of technology and lover of anything made by Apple, I realized how my obsession for simplicity and design drove my involvement with @myhealthimpact

I was not only brought in to build a website and integrate it with social media but rather to create an unforgettable user experience. After hosting several focus groups, I observed countless individuals failing to gain their desired results from the search engine. It really got under my skin because I couldn't understand how something as trivial as finding health information or health news could be so convoluted. All of the sites I visited contained text heavy graphics and disastrous workflows. It seemed as if the content developers did not want users to understand their work. The confusion and disappointment across the faces of our participants led me to rethink how I would properly brand health news for an evolving generation.

My team and I sat down to discuss what aspects of health news aggregation our users wanted and decided to focus on building a community that drove user interactivity. We wanted to plug today’s top social media platforms into our web infrastructure and conduct polls to track our user engagement. This also included the ability to work with other organizations, HIV activists, bloggers, and researchers to partner on various campaigns and contests.

After much iteration of design prototypes, we were finally able to settle on what we think is the most visually interactive health site on the web today. To piggy back that point, the assortment of colors and patterns we selected for the website were for the sole purpose of being able to identify with our target audience which were African-American females. It brings me so much joy to see the results of critical thinking as my research team and I worked on improving HIV/AIDS awareness on the web now and for the future.



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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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