WebMD Mobile, from a paranoid person’s perspective

I wouldn’t call myself a hypochondriac (in fear of offending those who may actually experience health anxiety at real levels), but I would say I have hypochondriac tendencies. Being able to count on getting sick exactly once person season (thankfully my spring incident has already passed), I spend a considerably embarrassing amount of time browsing symptoms on WebMD via my phone. Seriously.

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For anyone who might be able to relate, WebMD isn’t exactly the best place to go if you’re wanting to alleviate health anxiety, considering any time you even type in the symptom “aching ____,” you’re bound to get search results ranging from “broken bone” to “pregnancy.” I realized this upon browsing it today on my phone and stopping for a moment to look at all the alarming language just on the home page itself.

The advertisement that appears at the top of the home page says, word-for-word: “Children’s Rash: What’s Serious, What’s Not?” This is followed by a cringe-inducing image of some sort of…germ, I dunno.

Quickly wanting to ignore this information, I found myself frantically looking for some sort of menu, which wasn’t hard to find. As you can see, there’s a hamburger menu at the top left, which offers several detour options for their WebMD visit. Unsurprisingly, mine is “Symptom Checker.”

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It’s interesting to see how many other services and information pages offered by WebMD. I didn’t know they offered a Healthy Recipe Finder or information about Health Care Reform, or even the option to receive personal messages from your physician. I’d bet good money that the Symptom Checker is the most widely viewed page on this site despite all of the other cool features.

With all of the information and safety precautions that are required of WebMD, it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of the pages on its mobile site direct users to download their mobile app, which is actually where the Symptom Checker can be accessed. At first, I found this disappointing, but for the most part I think this move makes sense. The Symptom Checker brings up thousands of possible results, and since WebMD mobile already contains so much information (via both images and copy), I like that interested users (such as me) are directed to a more appropriate vehicle.

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Overall, I’d say the site provides a good mobile experience given my prior knowledge of mobile sites. I can’t say it would work for those not as familiar with mobile sites, but it gets the job done and condenses a ton of information into a relatively digestible site. If I had the choice between accessing this site from my phone versus from my laptop, I would still go with the laptop.

Looking at this site from a desktop perspective, I already feel more at ease with the increase in space (therefore making the text look a lot less overwhelming), and for some reason, I also feel like I’ll be able to find the information I need more easily. Maybe it’s because the search box on the desktop view is much larger and more prominent, so I feel like searching from a desktop will be easier than searching from my phone.

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2 thoughts on “WebMD Mobile, from a paranoid person’s perspective

  1. I am also a WebMD checker! However, I’ve never accessed it on my phone until now. I was also presently surprised with the overall experience. One thing that you mention in your post is the necessity to download an APP for the full-site access to WedMD. I also had a similar experience with my mobile site blog when I accessed Pinterest— you needed to download the APP. It’s interesting to differentiate between the mobile experience of just a plain website or an APP and what the benefits or plain purpose is to have an APP over just a website. I’m by no means an APP expert, but my curiosity is definitely stirring after considering this idea from your post!!

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  2. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at this website on my laptop let alone my phone, so this was an interesting blog to read. Regarding the app download, this seems to be a common theme among many mobile sites. There are positives and negatives to this trend including easier/more access for frequent users and decreased hard drive space. What I liked best about the mobile site was the hamburger menu. This is another common feature of mobile sites, but I haven’t seen other websites use a categorized menu quite like WebMD. In the photo you included, I noticed there were three categories (Health Tools, Health Conditions and Living Healthy) that each had corresponding links. For the amount of information on this site, I thought this was a great way to manage the site’s navigation. However, I did notice that these categories don’t align with the desktop version. Hopefully this wouldn’t confuse any frequent users.

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