Rating the NHS hospital trust ratings

If you’re having trouble locating the new quality ratings for your local NHS, and it’s much harder than it should be given its place at the top of the news agenda – you’ll find them at a special website, annualhealthcheckratings.healthcarecommission.org.uk. Gotta love that address, guys.
There’s a link to ‘search our findings‘. First mistake, and it’s a big one: wrong words. I’m not interested in your findings, I’m interested in my local area, my hospital, myself. For one thing, it tells me that your process is more important than my access. But more importantly, we know people scan rather than read pages… and having the right ‘scan word’ is essential. (It’ll also help your search engine optimisation.) Overall score: Weak
Lots of search options – name, A-Zlisting, type of NHS trust, code number, distance from a given postcode. (Lose a point for using non-standard English regions: there’s no such thing as South Central.) Nice hover effects in the search results (with clear evidence that they’ve coded for Firefox first, rather than IE6 – try the hover effect). Overall score: Excellent
Then when I get to the page for my local area… it all looks so generic. I can see the scores for ‘quality of services’ and ‘use of resources’ (although I probably saw those already in the search results), but everything else looks like it’s produced by a template. Too much use of ‘this organisation’, and not its name. I don’t feel like I’m looking at a page that’s truly about my area. Overall score: weak (sorry)
The pages of more detailed scores don’t feel quite so generic; but what is going on with the merged graphs? The designer has tried to find a creative way to force two graphs into the same physical space; having stared at it for a while, I think I understand it, but I don’t know if many people would have my patience. But hey, the ratings are there in big letters, so you know how they did. Overall score: Good
So it’s a mixed picture to be honest. It’s clear that they’ve made an effort… and good on them for that. But as with so many projects, I can see aspects where the editorial (or ‘user experience’) person should have been a bit more proactive. Even the smallest changes could make big differences to the site’s usability. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good… but it could have been excellent.