Designing Health Information: What Every Health Professional Needs to Know

From left: Xanthi Scrimgeour, MHEd, MCHES,
Stacy Robison, MPH, MCHES

From left: Xanthi Scrimgeour, MHEd, MCHES,
Stacy Robison, MPH, MCHES

Too often as health professionals, we take care of the content of our messages but give away the power of design when we send it off to someone else. In their presentation, Stacy Robison and Xanthi Scrimgeour encourage health professionals to take back their power for the benefit of their audiences by learning the basic elements of design to create documents and resources that are not only useful and usable but also attractive — because “attractive things work better.” If in creating attractive, well-designed materials we can ease the mental burden placed on the user, we can free up space for them to better use in trying to understand and absorb the material.

To do this, Robison and Scrimegour offer the following ten basic tips for health professionals:



  1. Create an obvious path for the eye to follow.
  2. Use visual hierarchy.

  3. Use a grid to keep content and images aligned.

  4. Incorporate white space.

  5. Use bulleted and numbered lists.

  6. Use conceptual cues.

  7. Use images to facilitate understanding.
  8. Use icons or images to call out important content.
  9. Consider sans serif fonts.

  10. Increase your font size.

Design is about much more than appearances. If we can successfully utilize tools of visual communication, we can help the readers of our materials to find what they need, understand it when they find it, and remember it after they have read it.